“Doing squats so my ass matches my sass.”
— The T-shirt I’m almost too shy to buy
Squats. Turns out there’s a lot more to this simple move than just engaging your glutes for firming up the tushy — although that’s always a plus. Here’s a quick squiz at why they’re good for us all and why we need to engage this secret weapon more often.
1) Squats build our foundation for athleticism
Hip and leg strength are the starting blocks to most athletic endeavours. Lower body power gives us strength, speed, and oomph, and the humble squat is one of the easiest and yet most effective way to engage and improve this power. It’s also why squatting has been incorporated into athletic training for decades, in its many splendoured forms.
2) They’re great for your pelvic floor muscles
The pelvic floor is a set of muscles and connective tissues that support pelvic organs such as the bladder, the uterus (if you have one), and the bowel. These muscles aid urinary control, continence, and sexual function. BTW, weak pelvic floors don’t just strike women who’ve given birth. In fact, research shows that the category of ailments that are classed as pelvic floor issues occur in women whether or not they’ve delivered babies before. Men don’t get a free pass either: pelvic floor disorders are also prevalent with men and are on the rise.
Strong glutes and hamstrings are very important to the overall health of your pelvic floor. And the deep squat gets you there — provided it’s done correctly.
Not sure what you’re doing? Check yourself out in the mirror while you’re first doing them until you’re familiar with where you need to be. Some things to watch for are not dropping low enough, leaning your body too far forward, allowing your knees to drift inward, and performing the exercise too quickly. Aim to complete about 2-3 sets of 10 reps daily.
3) It’s the Swiss Army Knife of exercises
How can squats love thee? Let me count the ways. If you combine them with vertical or broad jumps, you can build power. If you use weights, it’ll increase your strength ceiling. Shallower squats with feet placed closer together tend to be more beneficial for strengthening pelvic floor muscles directly, while wider and deeper squats build your glutes and hamstrings.
The humble squat looks simple but is actually a compound movement which means a more efficient, full-body workout. It also increases your mobility because it takes your body through a wide range of motion and extends muscles and tendons such as the calves, hip flexors, thoracic, and knees.
Best of all — you can build it into your day. If you’re not too self-conscious, try ditching your office chair now and then and subtly settle into the squat for a few reps. Or do that ew-gross-bar-toilet hover the next time you’re in the loo.