Monday, April 5, 2010
IT DOESN'T COUNT UNLESS YOU GO ALL THE WAY!!!
What counts as parallel you might ask? Parallel means the crease of your hip is at the same level or just lower than the top of your knee. I don't understand the point of doing a squat unless you are going to parallel.
Recently I was at a local popular gym chain (I'll let you guess which one), and thought I would do my leg workout since very few people work legs at this gym. No lie, I've seen the same individuals work chest and biceps 3 or more times per week........really guys you've got other muscles in the body.....just a thought.
Well the workout Gods played a cruel joke on me, and sent a pack of "heavy lifters" in to annoy me. To help you get an idea of what I was up against, let me describe a few things about these individuals. They travel in groups of at least 4 (1 to squat and three to spot......lift them up), they use knee wraps for every set (even for warm up sets), they have no concept of how to actually use a squat rack.....umm anyone heard of safety bars???? These "heavy lifters" load 4 or 5 plates on each side of the bar (405-495lb), wrap their knees up tight, and strap on their lifting belt. They stiff leg walk over to the bar; position themselves under it, with a spotter on each side and one behind them. They un-rack the weight, take a step back, and proceed to go into the squat movement, well a quarter to half squat movement anyway. Their back spotter is hugged in close behind them, arms wrapped up under the lifters arm pits to help hold him up so the weight doesn't crumple his skinny weak ass legs and crush him to the ground. The side spotters are helping to control the descent of the weight, but their most important job is to help lift the weight up so the lifter doesn't end up on his ass or better still his face with the weight pressing his pathetic body into the ground (remember no safety bars are allowed do be used, that would just be silly!) But hey it's all good, they can tell people that can squat 495lb for reps! I would think they would have massive quads with that big of a squat, but no.... somehow they still have skinny chicken legs.
Now don't get me wrong I'm all for heavy squats, and there is a time and a place for heavy knee wraps, belts, lifting singlets, and multiple spotters. I've been to my far share of power lifting competitions. Now those guys squat some heavy weight, and DEEP!
So what the big deal with squatting deep? Well a couple of things. For starters you are going to stretch the quads more, and increase the time that the muscles are under tension, which will equate to more motor neurons and fibers being recruited. More time under tension=bigger stronger, muscles.
More importantly you work the gluteal muscles (gluteus maximus muscle, gluteus medius muscle and gluteus minimus muscle.) Oh by the way the gluteus maximus is one of the largest and strongest muscles in the body, and is the muscle that you need for getting up and down from a seated position, climbing stairs etc. Not to mention strong gluteal muscles give you a nicely shaped butt.......and who doesn't want that? If you said no.......your a liar!
If you find that you can't get up from your chair at work without pushing off of your desk, or the sides of your chair with your hands, chances are you have....and are a weak ass. Atrophy of the gluteal muscles which is often caused from disuse and constant pressure for sitting can lead to lower back pain, and difficulty with some movements that naturally require the gluteal muscles.
What...??? Lower back pain can be caused from a weak butt.....?? uhh ya it can! The problem is if your butt is weak, your hip alignment could be off, and your lower back is going to be trying to compensate, and do the job that your butt should be doing, not to mention what your poor hamstrings are trying to do. It is theorized that potentially half of the non injury related lower back pain could be alleviated by strengthening the butt muscles......that's a lot of people by the way!
So not only do strong gluteal muscles make you have a damn sexy looking backside, it can help your everyday activities, and potentially make your back pain go away.
Hmmm so now you are thinking....how do I strengthen my gluteal muscles.......the answer is.....by squatting my friends.......and squatting deep!
P.S. I know there is some lame brain out there that is going to bring up some stupid comment about the fact they heard squatting deep is bad for your knees. Well it isn't! So don't waste time by bringing it up! (If you have a knee injury...well that could change a few things, and is a topic for another time, and yes there is a time and a place for a modified squat, again for another time.)