If you asked me for one exercise that I think should be a part of every woman’s workout routine, there would only be one answer: The squat. The benefits of squats for women are just as convincing as they are for men. Or even more so. And you can even do these at home with a decent power rack if you have a little extra space.
At the same time there is also probably no other exercise in the whole fitness community that has generated so many myths, different opinions and misunderstandings and that people will never get tired of talking about.
Still, if you were to only take all the positive aspects that the myriad of different views on this subject has in common you would still get one of the greatest overall exercises there is.
So bear with me here and just check out what the Squat has in store for you. You might want to reconsider your hesitation to do this exercise after reading my list of the 5 main benefits of doing squats especially for women.
#1 Good Bye flat Butt
One of the main muscles being worked out with this exercise is the gluteus maximus. And this fella happens to be the one that makes up most of the shape and appearance of your butt. Not only does it give your behind that perfect round shape but it will also make it so firm you can crack nuts with it like Gerard Butler.
But the list of engaged muscles only begins there. The other primary muscle are the Quadriceps (quads) and Hamstrings. The secondary muscles include the Gluteus medius/minimus (the smaller brothers of the butt muscle), the Soleus and the Gastrocnemius (together forming the calf muscle) the Erector Spinae (hello stabilized spine!) and the Adductors. Altogether giving you those sexy worked out legs with one exercise.
By the way: With the Adductors being trained here as well you can leave out that terrible leg squeeze exercise, you know, the one in that gynecological-chair-like machine! Another big plus.
#2 More overall Muscle Mass = More Fat Burn
Muscle tissue burns way more calories than fat tissue. So the higher the percentage of muscle mass in your body the higher your basal metabolic rate (BMR). That means that even in your sleep you will be burning calories like a steam engine. And this works especially well with the squat because the gluteus maximus (your butt muscle, remember?) is by volume the largest in the human body -and one of the strongest as well by the way.
Studies show that in the field of weight loss cardio is way behind its reputation, especially compared to alternative forms of working out. In fact there is an ever increasing number of advocates of the view that when it comes to effectively and steadily burning that unloved fat, besides reasonably adapting your diet of course, weight training is the way to go.
#3 Awesome Abs without endless Crunches
This one might sound counterintuitive, but to significantly workout your abs you do not necessarily have to spend hours of doing crunches every time you work out. This is another area where the squat will happily jump in and help.
To properly perform the squat you will have to massively engage your core muscles to stabilize your upper body. The Rectus abdominis, better known as the abs, is one of the main postural muscles and is highly activated when performing the squat. In fact, many of the the big time bodybuilders have been known to hardly ever even specifically workout their abs but to just let the basic full body exercises do that work for them.
And not only do abs look pretty good on you but working out your core muscles with a compound movement like this also gives you more stability and improves your all over balance.
#4 Functional Movements improve daily Activities
A lot of the standard workout exercises are very restricted in the involved movement, especially when done with the help of a machine. This can be a good thing to learn the general motion or when you are in a situation where you are recovering from an injury and any deviation from a standard movement path could make things worse for you. Otherwise the free movements are almost always the better option.
With the squat this is especially true. And when done correctly it will perfectly prepare you for all activities in your daily life where any kind of lifting of any amount of weight is involved. This can be two gallons of OJ at the store, some fresh soil for your garden or your 4 year old at the playground.
#5 Testosterone: Your Fountain of Youth
I can almost hear you ask: Testosterone? But aren’t we talking about women here? Well, yes we are. But just as men’s bodies produce small amounts of estrogen, women’s bodies do the same with testosterone. And research shows that a higher level of testosterone in women not only increases the overall muscle growth and prevents the production of unnecessary fat mass but also -and maybe even more important- helps to decrease the risk of a hart attack, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and also works against a loss of libido when the years keep adding up. That’s a pretty big list!
The problem is that with increasing age the naturally produced amount of testosterone decreases in women just as well as in men. If there just were a way to boost that level without going to some shady age clinic. Well it just so happens that lifting heavy and doing compound exercises involving the large muscle groups will do exactly that. And I bet you can guess which exercise perfectly meets these criteria.
..you see: neglecting this basic exercise is not a really good idea. I have to admit I have done that myself for bigger parts of my workout life. But since I started doing it again on a regular basis I can only say that I just love it.
The most important thing to remember here is, however, to always find a professional to show you the proper form and to watch and correct you the first couple of times. There are just way too many people doing it wrong and getting suboptimal results or even injuring themselves and ultimately giving it a bad rap.
I’d love to hear your experience, opinions or any additional benefits of squats for women that you can come up with. Please feel free to add any comments below.