What’s the best strength-building exercise that many of us could be doing right now, but definitely aren’t? Consult enough exercise scientists and the latest exercise research, and the answer would probably be a resounding one: squats.
“For lower body strength and flexibility, there’s probably no better exercise,” said Bryan Christensen, a biomechanics professor at North Dakota State University in Fargo, who studies exercise. of resistance.
The benefits are not limited to the lower body. “It really is a full-body exercise,” said Silvio Rene Lorenzetti, director of the Performance Sports division at the Swiss Federal Institute of Sports in Magglingen. “It requires core stability and trains the back.”
Some people worry that squats put the knees and hips at risk, but the exercise can actually help protect and improve the function of these joints and others, said Sasa Duric, exercise scientist at the American University of the Middle East in Kuwait, which studied squats. The movement “helps maintain flexibility, stability and function” of the hips, knees and ankles, he said.
But perhaps more fundamentally, squats are essential for living well and aging well. “When we’re cleaning the house or planting a vegetable patch, we have to squat down,” Dr Duric said. Ditto for sitting and getting up from chairs and lowering down to toddler level for face-to-face play.
Essentially, according to a 2014 scientific overview, squats are “one of the most primary and critical foundational movements needed to improve athletic performance, reduce injury risk, and support lifelong physical activity. “.
The right way to squat
The squat is simple, portable and powerful. “You don’t need a gym,” Dr. Christensen said. Anywhere with a few feet of open space will work, whether it’s a living room, office, stairwell, playpen, or closet. And the only equipment needed is your body weight.
If you’re new to squats, one of the safest and easiest ways to get started, Dr. Duric said, is to use what’s commonly known as a box squat, so named because it’s usually performed with an exercise box found in gyms. But you can also make them at home, in which case you will use a chair, stool, bench or bedside table.
If you have lower body disabilities or past injuries, first ask your doctor if squatting is advisable for you. “Be patient and pay attention to proper technique,” Dr. Duric said. “Don’t rush the squat.”