Simply put, squats are the most difficult, intimidating and painful exercise you could possibly have in your arsenal. They require massive amounts of discipline and willpower to perform correctly.
After you have performed a set of squats to failure, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. They are also a challenging exercise to master from a technical standpoint.
All this aside, squats are one of, if not THE most effective, growth-producing exercises you could possibly include in your workout routine.
They will pack more size and strength onto your lower body than any other exercise out there, and due to their high level of difficulty, they also force your body to release higher amounts of important anabolic hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone. This increased secretion of hormones will pack muscle size onto your entire upper body as well.
In addition, squats cause what is known as a "spillover effect": a strength gain in almost all of your other exercises. When I started squatting to failure, my bench press virtually increased by 20 pounds overnight. If you're looking for serious muscle gains and you don't already squat, you'd better get started.
Quite simply, they really, really work.
Unfortunately, many people have yet to experience the benefits of heavy squatting. It seems that people will come up with just about any excuse they possibly can in order to steer clear form the squat rack.
How many times have you heard the all too common "They're too hard on my knees", or "I heard they stunt your growth." What do I say to that? Nonsense!
If you're in the gym with the goal of maximizing your total body muscle gains, squats are an absolute must.
Proper Squatting Technique
For safety reasons you should always perform your squats in a power rack or cage. This way you can adjust the height at which you clear the bar, and you can drop the bar on the safety pins if you need to bail. The safety pins should be set at just below the depth you are squatting and the J Hooks should be set at about the level of your nipples.
At all times during the squat your head should be pulled back, your chest raised and you should have a slight arch in your lower back. You should always be looking straight ahead, and at no time should you be leaning too far forward, or be looking up or down.
Step up to the bar, placing your hands at about the same width as a bench press. Before clearing the bar, make sure it is placed evenly along your traps. The bar should rest on the lower portion of your traps and across your rear delts. It should almost feel as if the bar is going to roll off your back.
Now that you have cleared the bar, take only as many steps back as necessary. Most squat injuries occur when backing up, so make sure that you only back up as far as you need to. Your feet should be placed about shoulder width apart or slightly wider, and they should point out at a 45-degree angle.
Take a big, deep breath, and make your descent. You should not lower yourself straight down, but rather as if you were sitting in a chair behind you. At all times your knee must remain in line with your feet, and they should never bow in. Lower yourself until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground.
As soon as you have reached the bottom position, rise up immediately. Do not relax in the bottom position! Drive up with your heels and straighten your back as quickly as possible.
Once you are in the upright position again, take another deep breath, and continue the lift until you have completed the desired number of reps.
You have all the reason in the world to get into the squat rack, so go ahead and do it. Treat this lift with respect and you'll be shocked at the resulting muscle gains. I would recommend performing your squats once per week, for 2 sets of 5 to 7 reps. Focus on pushing yourself hard on this exercise and continually strive for more weight and more reps.
To learn about more highly effective, growth-producing exercises that you can include in your routine, Most trainees have no idea how to pick and choose the proper exercises and they dramatically limit their gains as a result.