6 min read
In the beginning, there were people…. And they needed to defecate, i.e. poop. So they squatted in order to do so. Then some years later the majority of the world began using the modern toilet and all our problems ensued.
It is that simple and factual. The squat has a function. It’s function is a resting position and a “pooping” position. So from a health perspective, and separately but related a training and movement perspective, we can see how important it is to maintain this natural and essential physical function.
From a health perspective…
This video from Squatty Potty does an excellent job presenting an overview of why squatting is both natural and most beneficial method for excretion.
From a training and movement perspective…
Before we get overly detailed, know that everyone who could squat should squat, and nothing can replace or replicate squatting.
There are two ways to approach squatting. One way is to approach it with general health goals, and a second way is to approach it with performance goals. Squatting for general health simply refers to regularly entering the squat as a rest position and practicing some basic strength protocols for general lower body strength development. Squatting for performance refers to developing different squatting positions and practicing multiple training protocols for greater lower body strength development and researching a deeper understanding of how the squat affects overall physical and mental performance
Squatting for general health.
The easiest way to squat for general health is to perform the Squat Stretch with Heals Elevated, pictured below. By elevating the heels, achieving full range of motion becomes much easier. All one must do is keep their weight into their heals, press their knees away from one another, and allow their body to completely relax. Simply practicing 30 seconds to 5 minutes 1-5 times a day is enough to develop a basic level of squatting for general health.
It is possible that one may not be able to squat immediately. The most effective process to achieving the squat is then to squat with assistance, by holding onto something in front of you as you squat as deeply as possible. Also, practicing other isolated stretches expedite the process of obtaining a squat. These (free) Movement Sessions have all the necessary stretches to aid you in your squat development.
If you have questions or would like more personalized details you can simply email [email protected]
Squatting for performance.
The squat is one of the most important movements for strength training. When done properly, the squat demands involvement of nearly every muscle, joint, ligament, and tendon in the body.
“Movement is the give and take of mobility and maximum depth of contraction regulated through active flexibility.” Dan Baruch
Strength, mobility, and flexibility can be developed for max strength or for general strength. It is very important when you have a health first approach to movement and training that you do not develop exclusively max strength. This is because the more you develop certain movement patterns the more you take away from developing other opposing movement patterns. This “patterning” of the body for max strength sacrifices the longevity of your joints, ligaments, and tendons.
Lower body strength development by squatting involves achieving a level of proficiency in multiple squatting positions and practicing a variety of training protocols. This takes months or years because each variation must be practiced long enough to develop the necessary level of mental comprehension, physical adaptation, and personalized strength capacity.
In a later article, we will discuss deeply the difference between training with body alignments that utilize physics and the most effective positions for leverage and power transfer; v.s. body alignments that maximize deep physical (specific and overall) strength development.
Variations of the squat.
The easiest way to think “surface level” about the variations of the squat is to look at ankle placement. Squats can be done with ankles together, directly under the hips, shoulder width, and wider than the shoulders. Each ankle position effects the rest of the body uniquely.
Pictured below is an example of a squat done with ankles under the hips, which is the first ankle position one should develop.
Training protocols for the squat.
A few sample protocols are:
Rest: .5-2 minutes
Rest: 1-5 minutes
Rest: .5-3 minutes
Notes: Pause 3-5 seconds at the bottom position of the squat
Below is a video example of a single repetition done to develop controlled movement under medium to heavy load. The goal is to move slowly to the bottom of the squat, pause, and then move slowly to the top of the squat.
The big takeaways.
• Everyone must squat (to the best of their abilities).
• Squatting is a natural movement pattern we are all born able to do.
• Squatting is one of the most effective movement patterns for developing lower body and overall strength.
• We should all use something to mimic the squat position while using the bathroom.
• When ready and if possible everyone should develop a basic level of squatting strength. This on average and depending on age, sex, weight, height, and training experience means squatting between 100 and 400lbs.
This article has intentionally not included additional details on squatting for performance because having a health first philosophy means developing your body in a way that promotes longevity. This means, those who concern themselves with questions like; high bar or low bar, chest up or chest down, feet pointed in or pointed out, etc. have likely lost sight of what matters. Reaching a personal best (P.R.) is not why we all should train.
If you are curious why the techniques and process taught in the BARUCHealth programs have been chosen, please email [email protected] to learn more.
All The Very Best,
BARUCHealth Programs For Health Vitality & Performance