At Athletic Lab it wouldn’t be unusual to see a workout that involves some form of squatting (overhead, back, front, loaded, bodyweight, etc) every day of the week. Squatting is a foundational movement that provides a high ‘bang-for-your-buck’ in terms of training stimuli. Because you’re incorporating the majority of muscles in your body to perform a squat it is a great exercise for training economy…no need to do leg extensions for the quads, leg curls for the hamstrings, and hit the “Thigh Master” for the adductors when the squat hits all those muscles at one time in a much more functional manner. Because the squat hits so many muscles at the same time it kicks your metabolism in to overdrive really quickly.
The squat also has a lot of carry over to other exercises. In fact, Russian sport scientists found that when technique in the Olympic lifts is proficient, the limiting factor is often one’s back squat max (an efficient power clean:squat ratio should be 1:1.3). The same thing has been found for the deadlift by the elite powerlifters of the famous, West Side Barbell powerlifting club. Finally, the squat is functional. It’s something we all need to be able to do well or we risk losing our ability to accomplish many simple tasks. Standing up, sitting down, picking things up, carrying heavy objects, and a host of other activities are all related to our hip and leg strength and mobility. Once we lose either the strength, range of motion, or both to perform a full deep squat we are on the road to a lower quality of life where we’re unable to do many seemingly simple actions.
The squat is a great movement because, if performed with appropriate technique over a complete range of motion, it can boost strength, metabolism, mobility, and increase a person’s performance in other exercises as well as in life.