While there are many great exercises for weight loss, these three “must do” exercises should be part of every program! These three are special because they are compound movements, involve multiple muscle groups, have a strong core activation, can be done without equipment, and are the foundation for almost all other exercises!
You can work your entire body with just these three exercises! Of course, with any exercise program you need to have variations. Exercise programs are only as good as it takes for the muscles to adapt!
Simple changes can be made to any program by altering the order of exercises, adding weight or sets, or changing the tempo of the exercise. Keep that in mind when designing your exercise program!
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Squats are The King!
Yes, the king of all exercises reigns supreme! Squats are called the king of all exercises because this exercise uses almost every muscle group in the entire body to perform a proper repetition. Whether you use weight or not, you will feel all the muscles in your body working with the squat! The primary target of squats are the quadriceps, gluteals and hamstrings. Squats also develop strength in the stabilizer musculature of the abdominal and back. This stabilization effect is what makes squats more difficult that the leg press. Additionally, a decent amount of flexibility is needed in your back, shoulders, ankles and of course legs, to perform a proper squat.
Do leg press machines replace squats? What do you think? What’s stabilizing you in a machine? Don’t get me wrong, leg press machines are valuable, they are just not the same as squats!
The squat is used daily for sitting or bending activities. It is extremely important to keep practicing squats as we age to keep our legs strong and our balance firm. The lower the chair is that you sit in, the deeper the squat effect will be! Try it with a few different heights and you will learn the difference between a shallow squat and a deep one. You will feel many more muscles activated with a deep squat! Furthermore, you will keep the knees strong and safe when you allow them to move through the proper range of motion rather than stopping half way. There is a myth that deep squats are bad for the knees. In fact, the truth is the opposite! When you stop at the half way point in a squat (or “parallel to the floor as some instructors might have you do), you actually put the stress of the weight squarely on your knees since the gluteals and hamstrings gain maximum activation at the bottom of the squat. In order to do a full bottom squat, or a deep one, you will have to sacrifice weight! Yes, it is humbling to do a deep squat, one where your butt touches your heels (well, at least get close). But what you will feel in your muscles will make up for that! Now, you may not begin with a deep squat. It does take practice, patience and persistence. Remember, anybody can throw around heavy weights but not everyone can control and full range of motion! As always, quality over quantity!
Sports and Other Disciplines
Squats are the foundation for many other disciplines such as Plyometrics, Pilates, even Yoga! Squats may be done explosively, as in plyometrics, or slowly as in the yoga “chair pose”. Squats provide a vital application for power and speed in all sports.
Football, basketball, a weekend tennis game, a round of golf , all use the squat movement! For sports that require upper body power, and almost every sport does, the squat is critical in relating power transfer from the lower body to the upper body, if golf is your thing, try to practice putting indoors to complete more holes and move across the field more times.
Would a basketball player stand straight to shoot a ball? Would a golfer? No, they both start in a squat like position. Yes, the basketball player will have a deeper squat stance but both athletes are using the power transfer from the lower body to upper body for their sport. You will also use squats in almost every weight training exercise you do!
The lower body is the foundation, much like that of a house. When solid and strong, it can withstand some punishment! But if your foundation is weak or unbalanced muscularly, then injury can and will occur to some part of your body. The squat is by far the biggest metabolism boosters of all time! Plus the lean muscle added from doing squats regularly keeps your metabolism
raging all day long!
Bottom line benefits of Squats:
• Lower body gets blasted
• Upper body secures weight and is a stabilizer
• Abdominals and lower back get strong
• Mega calorie burner
• Can be cardiovascular exercise
• Crucial for sports movements
• Need for every day living
• Helps increase flexibility in hips, ankles and lower back
• Metabolism boosted
• Body fat burned
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