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Squats. They’re a love ’em or hate ’em kinda exercise.

If you love to squat then you’re probably already squatting on the regular.  But are you doing real squats?

If you hate to squat, well, then I guess it’s my job to convince you to do them anyways.

There is no squat alternative that’s half as good as squats. None. You need to be doing squats. Period.

Did you get that? YOU NEED TO BE DOING SQUATS!

What Muscles do Squats Work?

If you’re doing a real squat – which you will be from this day forth – a lot.

What is a squat?

It’s basically a knee and hip extension.

Squats gain this extension by working your quads (front upper leg), glutes (butt) and adductor magnus (inner thighs) plus a lot of the smaller leg muscles we use all the time.

But wait! There’s more!

Squats are a standing exercise which means you need to keep your body upright. This involves working a bunch of back muscles and your abs (yes, abs!) to keep your spine straight.

Sounds pretty good, amirite?

More Specific – Which Muscles are Used?

Squats are a heavy workout for 3 of the 4 quadricep muscles:

– vastus lateralis

– vastus medialis

– vastus intermedius

* The fourth, the rectus femoris quad muscle, works but not nearly as much as the other three.

Squats require a knee extension. This is possible because the 3 working quad muscles all cross your knee joint, thereby enabling an extension.

Squats also need you to flex and extend your hips. This is possible because of your glutes and adductor magnus.

Squats need that upright body. This is possible because your spinal erectors, abs, obliques and (to a small extent) your lats are all working.

What about the hamstrings, you ask?

Hate to break it to you, but squats aren’t a hamstring exercise. Your hamstrings are working, a bit, but they’re basically fighting against your quads. If your quads are winning (and they should be) your hamstrings just aren’t getting enough.

What’s a “real” Squat?

I don’t remember where I first heard this phrase, but it’s always stuck with me.

ASS to GRASS. That’s a real squat.

Check your squat form. I mean, now. Check your squat form.

Stand up and do a single squat – just one. Like you normally would. Don’t be fancy or change it up now.

How far down did you go? Until you can consistently perform (at least) 12 perfect-form real squats, you should not be picking up any weight. Stopping at parallel (or above) is ridiculously common. BUT IT’S A MISTAKE!

If you’re not dropping BELOW PARALLEL, you’re only working HALF the muscles. And, sorry not sorry, your glutes don’t start working until you drop below the knee.

Repeat TimeTo get all the benefits of squatting, you need to be doing real squats (in other words, you need to be squatting deeper than the knee).

What are the Additional Benefits of Squatting?

There are so many benefits of squatting. Let’s check out the top 6.

Squat Benefit #1 – Squats are a functional exercise

A functional exercise is one that helps your body do real-life shit. This would be the opposite of exercises that help your body become better at exercises.

Squats are a functional exercise and functional exercises are fucking amazing. We should do more of them. The #1 reason to be exercising is to LIVE a healthier LIFE. Functional exercises will help us during regular LIFE, not just during a workout.

To learn more about Functional Exercises, check out 7 Essential Functional Movement Exercises.

Real Life Squatting Examples

A man squats down to play with a cute puppy

1. Oh shit, I dropped my phone. Better pick it up.

How Squats RelateI’m probably going to do a quick squat down to grab it.

2. I’m sitting in a chair. I need to stand up.

How Squats Relate: You’ll do this at the top of every squat.

3. OMFG, look at the cute puppy! Must. Pet. Now.

How Squats Relate: Puppies are little, you gotta squat down to reach them.

Squat Benefit #2 – Squats can help keep you regular

I’m talking about bowel movements. Shitting. Defecating. Number 2. Okay, I’m going to stop with the synonyms (because it would be a nearly endless list).

Regular squatting can help with digestion.

Do you know how your digestive system works?

You eat some food, it’s processed by your stomach and then through your intestines (small and large). Then it hits your rectum as excrement (another synonym) where it waits to be squeezed out.

How do squats help? Well, they provide some nice pressure on your internal organs that can aid digestion and keep it flowing along, thereby keeping you regular.

Life Tip: 100% unrelated to exercise squats but dropping timber (last synonym, I swear) is so much better with your legs up in a squat-like position. Get a squatty potty (or just use a footstool) and try it.

Squat Benefit #3 – Squats help prevent injuries

Want to limit your chances of getting hurt? Squat.

Seriously, if you’re involved in any kind of movement in life and/or you plan to get old one day (fingers crossed): Squat.

Squats can help you maintain mobility, improve balance and improve flexibility. All these things can help you reduce or prevent injuries. Win win win.

Life Tip: It’s never too early or too late to plan for the future.

Personally, and it’s a real long ways off, but I plan to be an old bitch who dances, travels and just gets out there and does shit. Squats are going to help me get there.

Check out Betty White (she’s in the whole video, but from 3:07 is her prime time) – she would have been 90 or 91 years old when this video was filmed. What kind of bitch isn’t inspired by this?

Squat Benefit #4 – Reduce Cellulite (because Squats Improve Circulation)

Sign me up!

Okay, so one of the main causes of cellulite is poor circulation. A benefit of squats is improved circulation. Ergo, you could reduce (or say goodbye to) your cellulite.

Anyways, even if you don’t have cellulite (I hate you, just kidding, not really), you could still benefit from improved circulation.

Poor circulation can cause a ton of side effects especially numbness, tingling, coldness, etc in the extremities (hands and feet).

Squat Benefit #5 – You Can Squat Anywhere, Anytime

Picking up stones

Squats don’t require any special equipment. They don’t require any special skills.

There is nothing to stop you from poppin’ a squat. It doesn’t matter where you are or what else you’ve got going on.

Watching TV? Squat during commercials. In the bathroom? You guessed it – do a couple squats. Walking anywhere? Drop a couple squats every couple minutes.

Good person alertWhile you’re down there, consider helping the planet out and picking up some trash.

Seriously, there are zero excuses for this one. No. Whatever “reason” you’re trying to give is an excuse and it’s worthless. You can squat anywhere, anytime.

Squat Benefit #6 – Burn, Baby, Burn. Calories, that is.

Squats help you build muscle. If you have more muscle, you burn more calories. Estimates put this as a pound (or half a kilo) of fat converted to muscle will burn an extra 35-50 calories a day.

Perspective35 calories a day is 245 calories a week. That’s enough calories for (almost) two glasses of wine or cocktails.

If you burn more calories, you lose more weight. But wait, there’s more!

When you finish squatting, you keep burning extra calories for a while after.

Be SmartMuscles are good. They won’t make you “bulk up” or whatever lame excuse you’re using. Build them and reap the calorie benefits.

Squat Benefit #6+ – Many More Benefits of Squatting

There are still so many benefits of squatting, it would take days, weeks, months, years, to name them all. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but there are a ton more. Here’s a few more (short and quick) examples:

Squatting can help you:

  • increase jump height
  • run faster
  • boost confidence
  • increase (good) hormones
  • improve posture

This list could go on and on and on. If you aren’t convinced to squat by now, you either weren’t paying attention (back to the top!) or you’re just in denial.

Start squatting.

How to do a REAL Squat

1. Stand straight. Your feet should be slightly more than shoulder-width apart with your toes turned out a wee bit.

2. Keep your back in a neutral position. Keep your chest up. Look slightly skywards.

3. Hinge your hips back a bit. This will help you keep a neutral spine when you begin to bend your knees.

4. Slowly bend your knees until you’re below parallel (or until you’re as low as you can go). Keep your knees behind your toes.

5. Return, in a slow and controlled manner, to the starting position.


* Inhale as you lower, exhale as you rise

*If you’re having trouble getting low enough, try raising your heels slightly (by resting them on weight plates, or something else that’s sturdy). If this helps, you’ll need to work on your ankle mobility.

This is a great instructional video – just make sure you’re dropping below parallel (she says 90 degrees a lot)

The 3,000 Squat 30-Day Challenge

Beginner – I can’t do 12+ real squats

Your Task: Do 100 squats every day for the next 30 days. Total Squats = 3,000

Your Goal: Be able to do at least 12 real squats (drop it low, beginners)

Your Instructions: Squat. Keep pushing to get lower.

Intermediate – I can do 12+ real squats

Your Task: Do 100 squats every day for the next 30 days. Total Squats = 3,000

Your Goal: Be able to do at least 12 real squats (drop it low, beginners)

Your Instructions: Squat. Keep pushing to get lower.

Advanced – I can do 12+ real squats, with weight

Your Task: Do 100 squats every day for the next 30 days. Total Squats = 3,000

Your Goal: Increase your weight (safely) and check your form to make sure it’s always correct.

Your Instructions: Once you can complete a full day of squats (100!) at your current weight, increase the weight by 5kg/10lb the next day. Rinse and Repeat.

Tracking Your Challenge

When I did my 30-day Squat Challenge, I kept track of it in my Bullet Journal because I like things like that.

Don’t have a bullet journal? Have no idea what that is? Learn more about What is a Bullet Journal from Planning Mindfully.

A Bullet Journal isn’t the only way to keep track of your life squat challenge. You can use any calendar or piece of paper and just write the number of squats you do each day.

Or use your smartphone and download an app. I use Habit Tracker by App Holdings when I want to start a new habit. It’s free and available for android or iOS.

However, if you want to keep track of your workouts and challenges all in one place, I highly recommend Jefit – they have a web version, android app and iOS app. Plus, the free version is awesome.

It’s Better With a Buddy

If you’ve ever had a gym buddy, you know that they can help keep you accountable and motivated.

Let This Bitch & Her Readers be your squat challenge buddy!

Tell us how you’re doing in the comments below! Post links to your progress pictures, stats or your trackers. We’d love to see them.

A Healthy Life Includes More Than Just Squats

The 6 benefits of squats plus a 30-day squat challenge pin

Now that I’ve convinced you to squat, I want to be clear:

Squatting alone isn’t enough.

Whatever your goals are – and if you don’t have goals, it’s time to fix that – squatting can help you achieve your health and fitness goals. But squatting alone will not be enough.

Don’t abandon whatever other healthy activities you do in favor of squatting. There is no ONE answer. No ONE solution.

Life is all about balance, and health is no different. You should avoid focusing too much on any one thing, try to find a balance (one that works for you).

Add a 30 Day Squat Challenge to your life, and once that’s done, keep squatting as part of your regular routine.

If you liked this post, please PIN IT or share it. Thanks!

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