Hello!  I hope you all had a terrific Memorial Day weekend.  Enjoyed family and friends and took a moment to think about why we have that day anyway.  Well enough pleasantries, down to business.  Every day I look at magazines and articles and read about “The best exercise for this” or “The best exercise for that”.  Truth of the matter is that in order to be the best exercise for anything, an exercise has to involve more than just that one thing.  So, by definition, any exercise that isolates one specific area, is probably not the best of anything.  It goes back to our discussion on functionality.  Ask yourself this; “During the course of my day, what do I EVER do that isolates one specific area of my body?”  The answer is never, right?  Everything that we do is a complex combination of different body parts and systems.  So therefore, a good exercise will target multiple muscle systems and multiple muscle areas.  So, then, the question is what DO you do in your day more than anything else.  I’d bet money the answer is sit and stand.  The most functional simplistic movement on planet Earth.  Well, all that movement is, really, is the squat.  And that is the best exercise ever.  Now you’ll hear “experts” argue that squats shouldn’t be done because they are bad for the knees, or bad for the back, or hurt the ear-lobes (not really, but the others are equally as ridiculout).  I would agree that they CAN hurt the knees, back, etc., but SHOULDN’T.  When done properly, the squat is the safest exercise in the world, even for someone with bad knees, bad back, bad ear-lobes, whatever.  The key, however, is just that.  That they must be done properly.  Now, I’m not going to spend your time trying to explain the proper mechanics of a squat without visual demonstration here.  I am going to argue the merits of it, and I will attach links at the end so that you may hear AND see how it all works.  Now when I talk about a squat, I’m not even talking about having barbells loaded on your back or dumbbells with you or anything.  You can get the same benefit out of simple body weight (BW).  Plus, when I teach squats to even the most experienced of my clientele, this is where we begin.  The weights that we add are completely secondary.  We have to have the movement right, first, but again, I digress.  So why the squat, you ask.  Well, according to my very expert analysis (HaHa), in order to be the best, an exercise must activate and utilize multiple muscle groups.  The squat qualifies with honors.  Not only does it work all the muscles around the hips (glutes, Hamstrings, Adductors on the inner and rotators on the outer), but also the major knee extensors (Quads), as well.  Add in to this the fact that the squat (especially when you do get to the point of added weight) is a fabulous postural and core strength builder.  And when I say core strength, I’m talking about the deep muscles all the way down to the bottom that do NOT, I repeat NOT get worked with hundreds of silly crunches.  These are the muscles that help you alleviate lower back pain and these are the muscles that give the flat tummy (in addition to the diet).  This, in and of itself, will make you noticibly more stable and balanced in your everyday life.  Now, in order to do this, the squat will require many coordinated firings from the neural system, again helping with spatial awareness and stability.  Add the added hormonal response to increase muscular strength AND tone and you’ve got a winner.  Plus, as stated earlier, our main goal with exercise is to make every day life better.  And what more do you do every day than sit and stand?  So with that in mind, how is the squat NOT one of, if not THE, best exercise ever?

 

PS – OK, so as promised, here are some links that will help you practice and hopefully perfect your squat technique.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kawBY5p29fQ

http://media.crossfit.com/cf-video/CrossFitJournal_Rippetoe_TheSquatAndHamstring_Pre.wmv

 

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