our backs we bear the load; that doesn't make it a bad thing. The
pounds, the ounces are distributed in fine proportion throughout
the structure from head to heel. We contract with all our might,
not a tissue is spared the struggle. No man or woman can boast of
exercise unless he or she performs the full squat. Would be the
same as swimming without water, football without goal posts or tennis
minus the net. What senseless game might be played? No bar adorned
with plates, no sturdy racks to approach with brave focus, no thick
leather girdling the back or ragged wraps about the knees? It's
racing without the speed.
must be done unless you are afflicted with fear, ignorance or physical
limitation. The payoffs are big, well worth the investment of time
and strain and should be integrated into your training once conditioning
delineate the statements of the preceding paragraph.
is understandable; the prodigious bar balanced high upon the back
in a position of little control, the long and unsteady descent to
an unknown depth, the quivering, demanding ascent, the coordination
of multiple muscles and the concern for health and life. How painful
will it be, are they safe and will I topple? Good. With a slight
adjustment of our attitude we can replace disabling fear with enabling
Ignorance is dismissed once we unbury our heads and recognize the
comprehensive strength-building benefits of squats, appreciate that
they are a logical and natural workload and highly supported by
the professional weightlifting and sports community. Upon the proper
performance of squats we are addicted to their mysterious allure.
limitations, of course, need be dealt with individually. A partial
squatting movement practiced with little or no weight might very
well prove to be therapeutic, healing and enabling.
payoffs are visible in weeks as the overall strength of the body
improves. The hefty demand on the entire structure causes an overall
muscular response and positively affects the enzymes and hormones
of the system. Growth is stimulated. Muscle weight is gained. Heart
and lungpower is increased. Legs improve in shape and buttocks muscularize.
The lower back and mid-section become stronger, more resistant and
is our ongoing incentive: looking good, feeling good and performing
well. Before we can practice squats it is wise to ready the ligaments
and tendons that support the muscular-skeletal system in the heavy
work. The muscles are ready but the tough bands of connective tissue
are not. A month of leg extensions and leg curls, leg presses and
deep knee bends (2-3 sets x 12 reps, 2 times per week... and don't
forget calves, 3 x 20) will move us safely to the squat rack for
our introductory sets. From there it is time and strain, strain
day has arrived. You're physically conditioned; you're psyched.
The bar is on the rack before you. The first thing I recommend is
that you perform 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions of moderate-weight
leg extensions to prepare the knees and quadriceps for the work
ahead. Note: I feel more secure when squatting after having adequately
trained my mid-section and torso region muscles warmed, activated
first set of squats is done with a forgiving attitude of experimental
curiosity, an awkward trial and error approach to relax the stiffness
within. Step to the bar (safely accessible, three inches lower than
shoulder height), grasp it firmly at an appropriate distance to
the left and right of the shoulders (12-15 inches) and assume a
position under the bar that satisfies your sense of comfort and
stability. Positioning of the bar will require your close attention
as you intuitively shift to correct all things: balance, sturdiness,
courage, foot placement, knee action, lower back stress and shoulder
are fully under the racked bar, feet shoulder-width apart and have
taken three deep breaths to assure sufficient oxygen uptake. Good.
Stand upright, quickly assess your surroundings, step backward with
an economy of movement to clear the racks and resume a shoulder-width
stance. Stabilize and focus. Slowly descend as if simply sitting
in a kitchen chair behind you. Your eyes remain fixed in a slightly
upward gaze (maintains balance), buttocks go backward as you go
down; your lower back, hips and knees bend in concert until your
thighs are parallel to the floor. Up you go, pushing off with your
heels. Be careful not to tip forward allowing the back and bar ascent
to lag behind the leg thrust. Upright, take a deep breath and hold
it going down keeping the torso muscles tight; reach parallel, push
up and exhale as you ascend.
two repetitions in all their flow and floundering. Don't stop now.
The fun has just begun. 3 sets of 12, 10 and 8 are a reasonable
combination for your first weeks of interplay.
trick for the tentative beginner: Set the safety bar on the racks
to allow you to descend ten or twelve inches only. This provides
plenty of muscle action and movement to build strength, confidence
and exercise understanding. Lower the safeties as you progress from
workout to workout.
Be careful always. The squat is a brilliant exercise that requires
one-hundred-percent focus, light weight or heavy weight. Three sets
of 12, 10 and 8 are a reasonable combination for your first weeks
running, jumping, climbing, kicking, dancing and staggering are
made easier through squats.
more on how to squat, click here
advanced squatting information, click here
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