If you want an exercise that is both loved and feared by bodybuilders, powerlifters, strongmen, and athletes alike, look no further than squats.
There are plenty of benefits of squats that can be enjoyed, which is what we’re going to be looking at today.
The biggest downside associated with squats, however, is the fact that the DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) is so brutal after you complete your training.
If you can fight through the pain, you’ll find that squats are one of the most beneficial and functional exercises in existence.
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Despite there being so many squats benefits, far too many lifters out there simply do not perform them on a regular basis, and they wonder why their legs are lacking any considerable size and definition.
After reading about the awesome benefits in today’s article, all of that will change.
Once you understand just how awesome squats are, you’ll never train your legs without them again.
Do you want to burn fat and get in better shape?
Of course, you do, who doesn’t?
Well, if you’re serious about shedding a few pounds then be sure to perform plenty of squats as part of your training regime.
Squats are the ultimate fat burning exercise because they’re so physically demanding to perform.
When you perform squats you’ll find that you burn off a considerable amount of calories, which in turn means that you’ll lose weight.
What’s not to love about that?
When talking about squat health benefits, we simply cannot overlook the fact that squats are so beneficial for your legs.
Squats promote muscle hypertrophy in the legs, making them ideal for people looking to avoid chicken leg syndrome.
Squats are a compound exercise that targets the quads, the hamstrings, the glutes, and the calves, so if you want a set of muscular and powerful legs, you really can’t go wrong.
A compound exercise is one that recruits several muscle groups all at the same time.
The benefits of training via a compound exercise are fairly obvious in that one exercise will recruit several muscle groups all at the same time.
Instead of isolating just one body part, you can target several.
So, what does this mean for you?
Well, basically, it means that you get the benefits of several isolations to exercise all rolled into one.
Squats not only work several muscles in your legs, but they’re also great for working your core as well.
There’s a lot to be said for functional training as of late.
Thanks to the popularity of CrossFit, more and more people are training to be functional as opposed to simply look jacked.
If you want the ultimate Crossfit or functional exercise, however, then look no further than the squat.
Squats are an exercise that will transition over into everyday life.
Think about how often you need to squat down in everyday life to perform even the most basic of tasks and you’ll understand.
Squats will help you to do everything from squat down to tie the laces on your shoe, to pick up a heavy item off the ground without injuring your back (remember, lift with your legs, and never your back).
If you’re looking for an exercise that is functional and practical, look no further than the squat.
When bodybuilders and powerlifters think of squats, they’ll often think of the barbell back squat.
This is the most common form of this exercise, but it is certainly not the only squat variation for you to choose from.
Some of the most prominent benefits are all to do with the fact that the exercise is so versatile.
There are heaps of different types of squats to choose from, which will not only keep your sessions fresh and exciting, it will also help to provide slightly different benefits.
A few key examples include Front squats, goblet squats, pistol squats, sumo squats, Bulgarian split squats, Hindu squats, dumbbell squats, and regular bodyweight squats for calisthenics workout.
We’ve looked at how squats will promote hypertrophy in the legs, but what about muscle growth in the rest of the body?
Well, one of the benefits of the main squat for bodybuilders is the fact that exercise is great for overall muscle growth and repair.
Because experts have found evidence to suggest that squats promote increased production of anabolic hormones responsible for muscle growth such as growth hormone and testosterone.
These androgenic anabolic hormones play a key role in protein synthesis, so the more you produce, the more muscle you will build.
Flat pancake butts are out, and rounded, peachy, squat booties are in.
If you want to build a butt to be proud of, be sure to include plenty of squats in your leg training routine.
Squats target your glutes perfectly, making them the perfect exercise for butt development.
Another of the lesser-known benefits of doing squats includes the fact that they have been found to improve circulation in your legs.
If you find yourself experiencing leg pain, soreness, tingling, or numbness, this could be due to poor circulation.
Your circulatory system is increasingly reliant upon the movement of the extremities in order for it to function as it should.
If you aren’t active enough, poor circulation is likely to become a real problem.
Performing squats on a regular basis will improve your circulation, which in turn will enable more oxygen-rich blood to be pumped around your body and to reach your lower body muscles and extremities.
Performing squats isn’t just beneficial for building muscle in your quadriceps, it’s also beneficial for increasing strength and power in your quads.
Having strong quads will help everything from adequate leg extension when standing up and sitting down, to overhead pressing heavyweights when training.
Not only that, but strong quads are also very beneficial when it comes to explosive speed and power.
Many of your fast-twitch muscle fibers located in your quads are worked when you perform squats, and as these play an essential role in explosive speed and power, you can see why squats are so beneficial.
Many sprinters and football players incorporate squats into their training routines for this very reason.
For virtually all bodybuilders, except for a select few, the most stubborn part of the anatomy to add muscle mass to is, in fact, the calf muscle.
Even the G.O.A.T Arnold Schwarzenegger had a weakness, by his own admission, which was his calves.
If you struggle to build muscle on your calves, squats are fantastic.
Arnold was able to add several inches to his calves which he did primarily by squatting and working on his calves even harder than before.
If your calves are lacking, squats will work wonders to pack mass onto them.
If you’re looking to increase your vertical leap, there are plenty of benefits that will help you to do precisely that.
As mentioned, squats target your type-2b muscle fibers which are your fast-twitch muscle fibers responsible for generating explosive speed and power.
Working these muscles means that you can generate more explosive power in your legs, which will drive you up into the air as you jump.
When people think of core strengthening exercises, they tend to picture exercises like planks, mountain climbers, leg raises, wall sits, and stomach crunches.
It turns out that several benefits are all based upon the fact that the exercise does wonders to strengthen your core.
Because you have to brace and engage your core and keep it tight when you perform squats, you recruit multiple core stabilizer muscles to keep you stable as you perform the exercise.
This, in turn, helps to strengthen the core.
A strong core means that you have a solid foundation to build upon.
Sticking with the benefits involving a strong core, another benefit of strengthening your core through squats is the fact that you’ll be able to lift heavier weights in general.
Your core is where you generate a great deal of your functional strength and power, which will help you with your other lifts.
In particular, you’ll find that pressing movements like leg press, bench presses, and military presses, benefit hugely from squatting.
Providing you perform squats correctly you’ll find that they help you to significantly reduce your risk of injury.
Squats help align your spine, they promote good posture, they strengthen your muscles and joints, and they help to boost circulation.
Roll all of these benefits together and you have the ultimate recipe for injury prevention.
Whilst we’re on the subject of good posture, you will also find that another great benefit of squats is the fact that the exercise helps you to improve your posture.
When squatting, your spine is aligned, your core is braced, and you must always keep your head up straight.
This strengthens your spinal erectors and keeps everything in alignment, which ultimately results in superior posture which will benefit you for years to come.
When you squat, you are constantly aware of your form as one wrong step could be disastrous.
This awareness will carry over into everyday life and your posture will improve greatly as a result.
Okay, when you perform heavy squats your knees will be under a little more pressure, but you must remember that when most people squat, they squat sensible weights, not the bar-bending weights that you see powerlifters squatting.
Squats are therefore a very beneficial low impact exercise.
Okay, whilst there is no room for ego at the gym when it comes to bragging rights, a respectable squat is certainly something to be admired amongst seasoned lifters.
We know that every gym bro going will brag about his bench, and we know that building strong deadlifts or power clean is not as tough as building a strong squat.
If you are able to squat a respectable amount of weight, however, you are well within your rights to brag to your buddies, gymgoers, and anybody else who’ll listen, about just how much weight you’re able to squat.
The fact that you squat and train legs alone are something to brag about in this day and age. So, brag away, friend.
One of the reasons why elderly people tend to suffer from arthritis and osteoporosis of the joints is because of the fact that they don’t use their joints as much as they once did.
The human joints function at their best when they are used regularly and in terms of the benefits, you’ll find that your joints are certainly worked when squatting.
Your hips are engaged, your knees, your ankles, and even your wrists and elbows as you hold the bar in place and re-rack it and un-rack it.
Over time, this will help strengthen your joints which will potentially help you later in life.
Finally, if your training sessions have become dull and monotonous, why not do more squats.
Though challenging, the exercises are ultimately fun and very rewarding.
You can also check different variations of squats forms on Squats Vs Deadlifts.
First up we have front squats.
Front squats are performed with the bar in front of the body, held across the shoulders as opposed to behind the neck/traps.
It is a very popular exercise in the CrossFit community, making it an extremely functional movement.
Secondly, we have overhead squats.
Overhead squats are popular amongst Olympic lifters and CrossFitters and are almost a hybrid between a barbell snatch and a back squat.
Zercher squats are some of the lesser-known squats variants on our list today, but that doesn’t make them any less impressive.
Zercher squats are like a front squat, except for the fact that you perform them with the bar held in front of you around waist height, rather than across the shoulders.
Anderson squats are also unusual to see in the gym, though they are still extremely beneficial if executed properly.
They get their name from Olympic strongman Paul Anderson, and they actually begin at the bottom of the lift, rather than at the top, so you begin in the squatting position.
As you can probably tell from the name, Bulgarian split squats are a very complex variant of the humble barbell squat.
Bulgarian split squats, as the name implies, are performed on one leg, when you are stood in a split-legged position, with one leg on the floor and the other resting behind you on a bench.
Usually, they are performed using a kettlebell or a dumbbell and they’re great for improving your overall balance and coordination.
Guess how many legs you use to perform this squat variant?
Yes, up next we have one-legged squats, and although they’re performed on one leg just like Bulgarian split squats, the two exercises are actually very different.
With this exercise, typically you will stand on one leg, hold both arms out in front of you, and then slowly bend the knee of your standing leg, with the other leg held in the air and out in front of you.
Hack squats can be performed on a hack squat machine, though they’re considered more effective with a barbell.
The exercise is very close to being a deadlift as you actually lift the weight off the ground, rather than starting with it in the air.
If you want to improve your quads, this squat variant is ideal.
So, there you have it, just a few of the many, many benefits of squats.
If you don’t squat regularly, hopefully now that you can see just how beneficial the exercise is you’ll rectify that ASAP.
Reda is an ACE Certified Nutritionist, Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt and bodybuilder with 11 years of experience. He's been published on many influential websites such as lifehack.org, Wealthy Gorilla, Good Men Project and more.