Nothing builds strength and mass like a good deep squat. That’s why it’s called the king of all exercises. Unfortunately, it’s also the king of how many people do it wrong. Every time I visit a commercial gym, there are always a few people trying to squat, in addition to those who don’t know what they’re doing. That’s obviously noble, but the execution is usually poor. Lacking depth, most do half squats or are at least 2 inches short of proper depth. Another mistake is too narrow stance and movement coming mostly from the knees with excessively upright torso.
The most basic and effective squat is the one where the hips do most of the work, not the knees! Stance slightly wider than shoulder width, feet turned out to the side, knees following the toes and not in front of the toes, or only a few inches maximum. The center of gravity in the middle of the foot and the barbell on the back must be in this axis throughout the whole squat. This is achieved by leaning over to the front. Careful, not by bending the upper or lower back. The back must always be in a neutral position, activated and pushed into the barbell. This type of squat engages as many muscle groups at once as no other exercise.
As for squat depth, the ideal is a few cm below parallel. And no, it really doesn’t mean that the bottom edge of your butt gets to the level of the top of your knee. That’s still a good 5 cm short of proper depth, or the bigger your butt, the more cm you’re missing. It’s not necessary to squat completely “ass to grass”, not many people can do that because of the mobility of their hips and ankles. If you squat deep enough but your lower back rounds up at the bottom, it’s not good. Better to ease up on the depth first and gradually work on mobility.
People are trying to find the ultimate trick to build strength with “functional” training in the form of bullshit like squatting on a bosu ball because it’s supposedly the best for mid-body strength, um, far from it! If you want to waste time, add cables, machines, and lest I forget, multi-press. But I’ll cover that in my next article. Most people just don’t understand that gaining real strength and mass requires working on basic exercises, engaging multiple muscles synchronously over and over again. Squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press, bent-over rows, shrugs, military press, powerclean, and a few light exercises for small muscles with dumbbells or resistance bands. That’s all you need. And if you want a really strong core, put in barbell rollouts, front squats, landmine, etc.
But I wanted to talk mostly about squatting. Here are a few points to consider before you decide to be a pussy and not squat:
- The squat will improve your sprint, jump and maybe you will finally be able to carry your girlfriend for a longer distance. And yeah I’m talking about heavy weights – they won’t slow you down. The superstitions going around about this are bullshit. What slows a man down is fat.
- Squatting twice a week with gradually increasing weight will pack on muscle, whether you like it or not. Even if you don’t eat as much as you should because squatting will force you to. Heavy squat training for multiple sets with heavy weight can double the hunger and anabolic response of your entire body for the next two days (yes your biceps too :D).
- A strong squat translates to your performance in bed and in the number of beers you drink, cures cancer and separates the posers from the hardcore guys.
- Have you ever seen a butt of a woman who squats regularly? Try it, but then don’t blame me for getting hit by a bus.
- There’s no substitute for the feeling of ending up on the floor after a set of 20 reps with more weight than you weigh yourself. You’ll feel like you’ve died and this must be the afterlife. Do you have the balls to do so?