Switch Your Swagger

Squats are one of the best exercises you can do for your body. If you consistently perform this exercise in your program, then I am certain you know it’s true.

Switch Your SwaggerThe benefits of squats are endless. Not only do they naturally increase the GH levels in your body allowing you to grow all over, but they also offer a full body workout while providing a solid cardio workout. If consistent resistance and progression is applied to your squat, more muscle and less fat will inevitably be the result.

Squats use almost every muscle in your body when performed properly. However, there are four prime movers associated with squatting that deserve some attention.

Quadriceps

Your quadriceps or thigh muscles are comprised of four smaller muscles. These muscles perform specific functions in your leg. The rectus femoris (upper quad) is responsible for bending the hip and straightening the knee. The vastus lateralis (outer quad) assists in straightening the knee. The vastus intermedius (sitting just behind the upper quad) and vastus medialis (inner quad) extend the knee.

Hamstrings

The hamstrings sit right behind the thigh and are responsible for the bending of the knee and extending the hip.

Glutes

This muscle group consists of three individual muscles: gluteus maximus, gluteus medias and gluteus minimus. These muscles are responsible for lifting the thigh forward and out to the side and rotating the leg inward and outward.

Spinal Erectors and Abdominals

These muscles are responsible for keeping the spine upright. Persistent squatting can actually get you a lot closer to six-pack heaven than spending countless hours on the abdominal machines.

The four prime movers must work together to perform basic functions like walking). So, it is easy to understand how even the smallest muscular imbalance can cause injury. Therefore, proper squatting can help you develop muscular balance in your lower body. The key word here, however, is proper.

Standard Squat

Target Muscles: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors and abdominals
Benefits: Anyone, beginner to advanced lifters can perform this full body exercise. Squats are a precursor to total body development, as they aid in increasing overall size and strength.
Note: To develop your squat properly, emphasize your overall strength levels, as well as postural stability. If your current program includes consistent squatting, but you are not achieving your desired results, implement some program variation such as reps, rests, and even sets. Finally, add some variation.

You can maximize your growth ability by supplementing with anabolic signallers that are intended to help you achieve intense muscle growth. Aminocore is ideal for your muscle-building purposes. This scientifically formulated supplement helps to build hard, lean muscle in three ways:

  • First, it increases anabolic signalling by increasing protein synthesis;
  • Second, it reduces the breakdown of muscle tissue during intense workouts;
  • Third, it also includes a full spectrum of B vitamins that aid in protein synthesis and muscle recovery.

As with any exercise, adaptation can occur causing a plateau. If you squat consistently, you need to switch it up over time. To keep your body and squats from plateau-ing, implement different types of squats into your workout. Not only will variation help you avoid muscular adaptation, it will help fully develop the muscle bellies of your legs and inevitably increase your overall strength and size.

Here are some variations of squats you can add to your workout regime:

Hack Squats

Target Muscles: Responsible for creating the teardrop on your thigh.
Benefits: A good substitute to regular squats.
Note: When performed with a barbell. the old-school way, hack squats can help improve your grip, as it forces you to hold the bar tightly, similar to a deadlift.

Front Squats

Target Muscles: The workload is emphasized on the quadriceps.
Benefits: This lighter loaded squat can actually help improve your posture because the weight is placed in the front, causing your back to work harder to prevent you from falling forward.
Note: Keep your elbows high to rest the bar on your upper chest and shoulders.

Jump Squats

Target Muscles: Fast twitch muscle fibers not typically hit in traditional lifting. It incorporates all muscle groups as well.
Benefits: This is a versatile variation that helps build strength-speed, rate of force, power and plyometric capabilities. This high-speed movement will also help fire neural output and muscle recruitment
Note: Jump squats may be the secret to nicely shaped and toned glutes.

Sumo Squats (aka Plié Squats)

Target Muscles: Quadriceps and glutes with an emphasis on the vastus medialis
Benefits: Sumo squats can be performed anywhere and can also be performed as a cardiovascular workout.
Note: This is simply a wider variation of the wide-stance squat. Good for glute-building.

Valeria Fazio

Valeria Fazio holds a B.A. Honors degree in history from Carleton University and a diploma in professional writing from Algonquin College. She has been competing in amateur fitness and figure competitions for three years, and has recently qualified for the 2011 Ontario Provincial Figure Championships. As a certified personal trainer and nutritional coach, Valeria helps others in her free time to achieve their fitness goals.

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