The squat, commonly known as the “King of all exercises” is the most basic strength exercise in weightlifting, and is one of the most commonly used exercises as it is the most effective exercise in weightlifting for building basic strength, particularly of the legs and trunk.
The squat makes your legs, thighs, and core muscles stronger and in turn, increases your overall strength, mobility and balance. Squatting works your entire body from head to toe, by engaging almost all muscle groups including your neck, back, stomach, hips, thighs, and feet. Due to this mass engagement of muscles, your body’s circulatory system gets fired up which revs up your metabolism. A high metabolism means your body uses more calories, which will result in fat loss. As you can see. the combination of all these functions working in unison provides your body with significant benefits. You may have heard from those who lack knowledge of squats that they are bad for the knees and ankles. This could not be farther from the truth as squats actually help to restore bad knees by conditioning them to become stronger, and inevitably prevent future damage.
How to execute the squat:
Place the barbell behind your neck—retract your shoulder blades tightly and rest the bar in the meat of your upper traps, un-rack the barbell and step back from the hooks.
Place your feet between hip and shoulder width apart with the toes turned out so that at full depth each thigh and the corresponding foot are in line with each other. Always remember this cue, “where your feet point is where your knees go”.
Set your back in a bit of an arch, and then take in a large and deep breath, and hold it in, while you forcefully tighten all your trunk musculature.
Before you execute the actual squatting movement, remember that you want the barbell to travel in a straight plane of movement down and back up in a straight line with your center of gravity. Then bend at the knees and hips almost simultaneously. You will want to break at the hips just before breaking at your knees simply because a little forward lean will help the bar dig into your rear delts a bit better, and be more stable.
Squat down as directly as possible into the bottom of the squat with an upright posture, maintaining tension on the legs throughout the movement and controlling the speed of the descent. Full depth is achieved when the knees are closed as much as possible without losing the arch in the back or when your hip joint is parallel with your knee joint (if you cannot sit into a full depth squat, you need to work on mobility). Upon reaching the bottom position, immediately transition and stand as aggressively as possible, again with the knees and hips together in a hip hinge movement to maintain your upright posture. Try to lead the movement with your head and shoulders while directing your gaze to a spot in front of you.
There is a large number of possibilities when it comes to programming the back squat. Most commonly weightlifters will use sets of 1-5 reps, but it’s not unheard of to use as many as 10 occasionally, briefly and far out from competition. Really, what it comes down to when deciding a rep range is between if your focus is on overall strength (low rep), or if you desire hypertrophic growth or toning (high reps).