To squat or not to squat….it’s a no Brainer! Part 3

Welcome to the final episode of our squat serious. I’ve had some good questions and nice feedback from a lot of you, which I appreciate very much, so I think that you all are getting something out this series. Hopefully, as we go along, I can continue to feed you information that you like to hear and crave to learn more about, so by all means feel free to make suggestions….the better I understand what you want the better I can give it to you. With that being said let’s look at what we’ve covered so far in Parts 1 & 2.

 

PART 1

In the first installment we learned a little bit about the difference between multi-joint and single-joint lifts and how they effect the body. More importantly, we learned how multi-joint, or compound exercises can produce a high hormonal response, especially when done with heavier weights. Then there is the effect squatting has on or joints and tendons. Keeping yourself mobile throughout your life should be a high priority, and squatting can help keep those hips moving and the ligaments and tendons strong as you age (which, sadly enough, we all age). And of course we were informed that squatting will make you more aesthetically pleasing to the eye…..don’t worry about why, it just does!

 

PART 2

This part broke squatting down into two categories: bilateral and unilateral. Once we defined each category we were shown some examples, for instance, in bilateral, or two sides (legs), squatting we have back squat and in unilateral, or one side (leg), we have rear foot elevated (RFE) squats. Again, the exercises mentioned in this article are only the beginning of your squat movement selection. I had someone ask about overhead squat, for example, (thanks Ray!) which can be a good starting point if you’re using very light weights but is also a pretty advanced exercise when trying to handle significant loads.

 

THE FINAL EPISODE

Finally, we’ll look at a couple of ways to implement these exercises into your routine and maybe you’ll get a little sneak preview of what’s to come.

 

When it comes to programming and exercise selection, it’s never one size fits all (yes, I realize I’m repeating myself from part 1). So for that reason I can’t just tell you to start squatting and pray that you get it right. There are a couple of ways to implement squats and legs in general into your routine to make it work for you. First is pretty simple, have a leg day. The typical “gym rat” breaks there weekly routine into body parts, typically chest, back, shoulders and arms….notice no legs. If you have the time for one extra day at the gym, make your 5th day a leg day. “Well, I only have four days to workout during the week and legs don’t fit in.” Well, besides the fact that your priorities are mixed up if you have an arm day but not a leg day, this is an easy fix, throw them in with arms. An arm workout doesn’t take much out of you and therefore doesn’t require much energy. Also, your biceps and triceps are small muscle groups, so it doesn’t take too much to fatigue them. Doing legs before your arm workout won’t hinder your gun sculpting.

 

The one-body-part-a-day routine can be a little too high volume for the average person. See, when weightlifting became popular in the mid-70s with Arnold, Lou and Franco, people thought that the only way to workout was the way bodybuilders did….after all, they were pretty big so it had to work. The problem is these guys had….”help”….if you know what I mean. Sure these guys were all genetic freaks to begin with, but add some special sauce and you have a recipe for hypertrophy. Basically, what this did was help them with recovery so they could workout more often and for longer periods of time without being overtrained. The point of all that is this….I personally do an upper body, lower body split four days a week, so two upper body days and two lower body days. For leg days, I have one day which is primarily anterior chain (quads) and one day which is primarily posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings, we’ll talk about this soon!!!). This way, you get enough leg work in to be able to develop strength and size in your quads, glutes and hamstrings more efficiently. You would have to spend 2-3 hours in the gym to work all of these muscles properly in one day. Finally, you can work your legs every day by simply adding one anterior chain and one posterior chain exercise to each workout. No matter how often you workout, 2 days, 4 days, you’re working the front and back of your legs as much as your upper body which will help keep a good, aesthetic balance. Adding just two leg exercises to each workout will help keep the soreness down also because you’re not overloading your legs one or 2 days a week. A lot of people worry about leg soreness and having it effect their work and everyday lives, which it can. Go hit a hard leg day for the first time in years and tell me you don’t have trouble standing up the next day. Two exercises added into your routine a day will keep this to a minimum.

 

A couple of tips when starting off. Keep the weights low in the beginning. Again, this has a lot to do with soreness, but adding too much weight in the beginning can lead to bad form which leads to bad knees and a bad back. While we’re keeping the weights light let’s keep the repetitions high…think 12-15. In the beginning we’re building some muscular endurance. After a month or so we can focus on building strength and hypertrophy.  The most important thing, when it comes to any type of exercise selection, is to KISS….keep it simple stupid.

 

So, now we’ve covered why to squat, what squats we have to choose from and finally how to throw them into your routine. If I’ve inspired one person to start doing legs I will be a happier person, but hopefully everyone has gotten some good information. Continue to send request for future post topics and by all means leave comments!

 

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