The squat is one of the best exercises because it works the whole body and provides a number of real-life benefits. Many people will benefit from starting with variations of the barbell squat to build structural balance through the lower body.
Benefits of Squat Training
Sure, squats are hard work, but they are WORTH the effort because they convey the following benefits:
- Walk faster and move better
- Run faster at short sprints and for longer distances
- Jump higher
- Have a stronger, leaner core
- Have a stronger, healthier lower back
- Prevent pain and injury in the knees, hips, and lower back
- Achieve greater bone mineral density and have less chance of fracture
Build Structural Balance With Squat Variations
Known as the "king of exercises," squats are a mainstay of any training program. But if you are new to training, you may not be ready to do a loaded barbell squat. If you're like a lot of people, you need to establish structural balance throughout the lower body before you can start loading plates on the bar.
Start With Split Squats
Split squats are an ideal variation for anyone new to squats. They are the place to start if you have pain in the knees, hips, or lower back. Split squats train the whole lower body musculature and can help increase hip and ankle range-of-motion so that you will be ready to try barbell squats.
An important benefit of the split squat variation is that it trains your knees to travel over your toes safely. A big misconception about squat training is that you should not let the knees travel over the toes. There’s no scientific evidence that having the knees travel over the toes will hurt the knees. In fact, your knee travels forward over your toes every time you walk up and down the stairs.
Full split squat variations are a great way to train the muscles around the hip and knee joint so that you can go up and down stairs with ease but without pain.
Progress To Dumbbell Squats
Dumbbell squats are an excellent variation for anyone who has basic structural balance. Once you have mastered split squats, dumbbell squats allow you to work on squat technique while building strength through the lower body.
To do them, hold the dumbbells at your sides during the squat. With dumbbell squats you don’t need the superior flexibility required for front squats or the technical knowledge of back squats.
Be sure to do full-range squats as low as you can go, keep your chest up, and focus on technique at all times.
Squats are a great exercise to help you achieve your goals faster. Start with the squat variations here and you will set yourself up for a lifetime of increased strength and performance.