Squats!

Deflation?

Deflation?

Oh dear!  That’s not a good look….but I must confess, I was adamantly determined to avoiding squats FOR YEARS!

Long ago when I first started working out with my sister at the YMCA, we asked a trainer to show us how to maximize our time in the gym.  We had already been working out for a while at an all women’s gym but we’d decided to take the plunge and get more serious about weight training, hence our eagerness to pick the brain of the big, buffed up trainer who was on morning duty at the Y.  He showed us a few things and I remember he recommended we do squats which he swore would put some mass on my chicken legs.  I nodded dutifully as he demonstrated proper form, and proceeded to ignore his advice for the next several years.

Mind you, I always worked on my legs and did so diligently, doing leg extensions, deadlifts, lunges of all types and at times jogging on the treadmill but I just didn’t want to do any squats.  They seemed so hard…and exhausting…and I was sure I could get comparable results doing other exercises.

I was wrong.  One day in 2009, in a fit of pique over my stick legs, I wrote an email to a friend, a Marine who I was pen pals with.  He was deployed to Afghanistan at the time.  He didn’t give me any sympathy, just basically told me to stop complaining, man up and SQUAT.  Now coming from anyone else, it might not have actually made me change a thing but he had a deep passion for lifting like I did and oddly enough we were very successful in pushing each other in a friendly but powerful way even across the miles.  With his challenge flag thrown, I couldn’t worm out of doing squats any longer.

Using good form is a must.  If you don't know how to squat, ask a skilled trainer to show you proper technique.  Like so many exercises, squats are wonderful done correctly but you can injure yourself if you don't perform them correctly!.

Using good form is a must. If you don’t know how to squat, ask a skilled trainer to show you proper technique. Like so many exercises, squats are wonderful if done the right way but you can injure yourself if you don’t perform them correctly!.

That was the beginning of some very good progress, which I immediately saw in my legs but also in my physique as a whole.  Luckily my glutes were never problematic (I never looked like the flat bottom girl) but squatting served to help keep my backside nice and tight, it vastly improved my quad development and strengthened my core.  At one point I made it a goal to be able to squat twice my bodyweight and I did that successfully.  I don’t squat quite that heavy anymore but squats are still an important part of my lifting program.

You can do squats with a barbell, or you can do them with dumbbells.  I used to prefer barbell squats but these days I'm really enjoying the dumbbell squats.

You can do squats with a barbell, or you can do them with dumbbells. I used to prefer barbell squats but these days I’m really enjoying the dumbbell squats.

If you want an even bigger challenge, you can do the dumbbell squats but instead of just standing up at the top of the movement you can pop up into a jump.  Made sure you use good form and soft knees for the jumping squats.  Start out with relatively light weight until you see how your body reacts to them.  If it hurts your knees while you’re doing them or in the next days after, stick with just standing up with the weights and forgo the jumping.  Jumping squats work for me…and I love them!

Nice glutes here (nice everything really), I know she squats!  Photo from Ironman (AU).

Nice glutes here…great physique overall, I know she squats! Photo from Ironman (AU).

4 responses

  1. Great post! I have a love/hate relationship with squats but like you said, they are the best for leg development. That’s a cool idea to add the little jump style top.

    1. I have a mostly hate relationship with them…or rather I should say, with DOING them. I completely love the results and finally decided that I’m willing to put up with having to do them to get the legs I want. The jumping squats are fantastic for quad development but aren’t for everyone. If it doesn’t hurt your knees to do them, I highly recommend them. You can even do them without weight but the jumping just stimulates/exhausts the muscle like nothing else.

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