To be honest with you, I always hated Mondays. Not because it's the start of the week, and I have 5 more days to go to reach the weekend, but because it's my leg day.
My gym is on the second floor of the building, and there's like 14 stairs that lead there. You can't even imagine what it's like to destroy your legs, think everything is over, and then facing those 14 stairs. If you ever had a similar situation in your life, then you know the struggle was real.
There was a time when I was skipping leg day. My whole family has funny genetics – strength was always in our legs. Abs are fine, chest and lats are weaker, and there's no shoulders and arms. But the legs and butt were always our core power.
And that was pretty much my excuse. Why should I have a leg day, if I have a weak chest and arms? Why should I work on something I already have?
Boy, was I wrong.
If you don't want to have muscular thighs or steel shaped calves that's definitely not the reason to skip a leg day. The type of exercise does not fully decide your growth. Repetition and series are the ones who decide will you have huge legs or small legs.
Squatting and generally leg workout can bring huge benefits to your transformation, and when it comes to health squats are also very important.
Saying that you should NOT skip squats or leg exercises during your workout, no matter if you want muscular thighs or small legs. Later, we will also cover how to use squats to achieve your goals.
Make sure to read all the information from this post because the more you know, the more you grow. I mean like in a healthy way grow. Yeah, you got the point.
Most important exercise ever
Yes, squats are considered to be the king of all exercises.
That's because when you are squatting you are hitting huge muscles on your body. Compare the size of your biceps and your quads. It's huge!
When you squat multiple muscle groups are working including quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, abs, and lower back. By engaging all these muscle groups you get to increase the intensity of your workout and burn more calories. Simply challenging bigger muscle groups will result in the body spending more energy to perform the exercise.
Squats boost testosterone
Let's first break a myth: “ONLY squats boost testosterone“.
Working out in general boosts testosterone. Every single exercise boost testosterone, it doesn't matter if it's a squat or biceps curl.
Testosterone is one of the most important steroid hormones in the human body, and it's very important to have balanced testosterone. And this is also a rule for women, not just men. Men do have much higher testosterone levels which is produced in testicles. Women also have testosterone in their body which is produced by ovaries.
Studies have shown that people who regularly workout have higher levels of testosterone in their bodies which results in:
- Heart and blood health
- Better protein synthesis (your body absorbs proteins much better)
- Bigger muscle growth
- Higher metabolic rate
- Slowing down aging processes
- Improved mood
- Better libido
- Stronger bones
- Better memory
Even though all types of exercises (weight lifting or high-intensity interval training) are proven to boost testosterone, squats are proven to be the most efficient exercise for the testosterone boost.
However, this boost is not permanent. Testosterone boost lasts a few hours or max one day. Now you must be thinking “well, I'll do squats twice every day, and I will have more testosterone“. That's not the way it goes, unfortunately.
There's a thing called being overtrained. And it's a thing. Professional athletes battle with overtraining, because that's something similar to the weight loss plateau. Progress is stopped because the body needs rest. If you try to do squats twice a day for 10 days you will end up being overtrained which will result in testosterone levels elevating and your legs will atrophy.
If you want to permanently increase your testosterone make sure you never skip a leg day and to have a quality protein shake after the workout. Protein in your diet will work together with testosterone on building your muscle and preventing muscle breakdown.
And don't try to save money when it comes to protein. Spend a few more bucks on quality and something tasty.
For example, the Gold Standard by Optimum Nutrition is the best one out there and will definitely do the work. It's tasty, it's healthy and it got the “Protein of the Year” award 2018, 2019, and 2020 for best quality protein on the market. Make sure to check it out!
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Best solution: Your body will have testosterone increase no matter which exercises you do. But squats will bring you a bigger increase, and you should do them 1-2 times per week.
Squats will improve your balance
When you are standing on legs made of steel and your core is strong, your balance will be drastically improved.
Having regular squatting routine muscles right above your hips are engaged often, and right there is the core of your body. The inner ear is in our brain and it keeps us in balance by being in communication with the core of our body.
Imagine that you walk the street and someone accidentally hits you with the shoulder while running in a taxi. At that moment your inner ear will reach out to the muscles around your core, and have the brain engage those muscles in order for you to stay on your feet.
Balance is essential in controlling your body, and squats are one of the few exercises being able to help there.
Squats prevent injuries
Injuries in the gym are usually the result of bad form.
A few days ago I saw a friend of mine in the gym and I saw he had some kind of injury, he was walking funny. When I asked him what happened he said
“Oh, nothing much, I tried to do a 440 pounds deadlift without the belt, and I heard a crack in lower back“.
Conclusion: injuries can happen due to stupidity too.
Doing such a big deadlift requires a belt around your waist that will ensure your spine and abdomen are safe because the pressure there is ginormous. But here's one more fact:
He had a minor injury because he was having a regular leg day, including 3 types of squats. Those squats made his core extremely strong, and any other way than that he would end up with a broken spine and disabled in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
It's also the case when you do a bench press. Those last two reps you do are extremely hard and imagine if your arms and chest fail… The only thing that can save you is your core because by lifting your body off the bench and flexing your entire core you will give more strength to your chest and you have a chance of not getting the bar on your throat.
Squats help to strengthen stabilizer muscles and increase flexibility which can save you many injuries in your future workouts.
Squats will give you explosive reactions
And I don't mean you will be short-tempered.
There was a study conducted on seventeen international soccer players age 25 where scientists wanted to see is there any difference between soccer players who are doing squats and those who don't. They wanted to see which group runs faster and jumps higher.
The result was that a group of players who did squats had way better results in spring and jump, which totally makes sense.
When we jump, our legs and core release a huge amount of energy. It's the same when we sprint. When you start sprinting your core will control the hip movement and legs coordination. So strength in legs and core is a related and very important and best way to make them strong is doing squats.
Squats help with digestion
I thought this was bro science. But they actually do!
You see when you squat you are pumping body fluids. Squats do help to dispose of body waste and to deliver nutrition to all tissues. They also help your colon to move feces through and makes sure nothing “gets stuck”.
The thing is our bodies are built kinda funny when it comes to digestion. Humans are the only beings on Earth that need to push feces upwards because our colon is made like that. Modern toilets today do not require a full squat and that caused a massive increase in constipation in modern lives.
Squats create pressure by the thighs compressing the internal organs in the abdomen and that way it helps with digestion and elimination.
So yeah. Do squats for abdominal health.
Other benefits of squats
Besides these various benefits squatting can bring you, there are others that come with the package. I didn't want to cover more details about them because they are usually coming from the same thing – strengthening the core and increasing workout intensity.
Some of the other benefits are:
- Increasing metabolism – As a high-intensity exercises squats tend to boost your metabolism much quicker than other exercises
- Lower back pain becomes history – Our modern sedentary lives cause lower back muscle atrophy. Getting those muscles back up and running will cause lower back pain to go away, and what's even more important – never to come back again.
- Increasing mobility – Power output is being increased by increased flexibility.
- Every-day activities become easier – either if you are a mom who runs after kids all day or you are a professional athlete, one thing is certain – squats will ease your every-day activities.
- You can do at least 1 type of squat – I hear this too often: I cannot squat. There are various types of squats, and there's no way you can't do at least one type of them. Start with half-squats and build your way up.
Other exercises for legs
Bear in mind that no exercise can substitute squat. No matter what others tell you, there's no single exercise that can engage all muscles squat to engage or to bring exercise intensity that high
Since we covered the king of all exercises – his majesty Squat, here are some of the other exercises that can boost the pursuit of your goals. They are best if you want to build a small waist and big butt!
Lunges are awesome for leg and booty workout. They are based on getting pressure on one leg at a time and they are highly recommended if you are trying to define or grow your legs.
This awesome machine lets you simulate squat, but again, a squat is squat. Leg press mostly puts pressure on your quads and hamstrings and it should be a part of your leg day.
Leg curl machines
These machines are awesome if you want to target a specific muscle on your legs. Leg curl allows you to lift the weight using quads (if you are sitting) or using hamstrings (if you are laying on your stomach, reversed). This is something I would recommend after doing squats and lunges.
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Let me know in the comments what's your favorite type of squats!
Founder at Extreme Loser