Too many times I have heard this debate going on in gyms or classrooms; to squat or not to squat. For most of these arguments I just stand back and observe the facts for each side before I chime in. I get a lot of feedback and sometimes a little hostility when I confront a fellow personal trainer or collegue that shares the view of a lot of miseducated professionals about how squatting is bad. Many a time, gym attendants and supervisors approached me in a commercial gym setting and tell me that I have too much weight on the bar while squatting and that I’m going to wreck my knees. I have even seen a sign on the mirror in front of the squatting rack telling their members or drop ins not to squat! Needless to say I do not attend public gyms any longer; it’s too frustrating!
Now that I have ranted and raved, let me explain to you why a squat MUST be a staple exercise inside EVERY program you ever build for yourself or have another trainer build for you.
First, we squat everyday. If our bodies are meant to squat, why are there people (and trainers) saying that squats are harmful? My answer to that is that they do not know proper form to squat. The saying ‘lift with your legs and not with your back’ holds true in every sense. Our legs are meant to work, while our back is meant to stabilize. The whole point to a squat is to use those very large muscle groups to move mass. Many people, especially with labor oriented jobs, squat everyday and still get injured. This is because they weren’t told how to do it properly. If everyone properly squatted, my job would be in serious jeopardy.
Second, the argument that squats are bad for the knees is plainly ridiculous. If your trainer or friend tells you not to squat because they got injured, tell them to get some coaching! I tore my ligaments in my knee playing football and was scared after it was healed to do any lifting on it due to the fear of more injury. It wasn’t until my mentor (Andrew Heming at TWU) taught me the squat PROPERLY, that I realized what I had been missing out on. Not only is it the greatest lower body exercise, it brought my knee to a whole new level of health! Every since then I have been able to bring my squat personal best to 315lb at a 168lb body weight (at that time). I have seen and helped many people with injured knees, get them squatting, and watch a life transforming moment as the squats bring their lifestyle to a whole new level!
In closing, every one should squat. If you can’t, get help. If your hip won’t got deep enough, get help. If you’re afraid because of past injury, get help! And our fully qualified trainers (with Kinesiology degrees) can help you!
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