Functional Movement: Why Squat?

by Paige Romanowski

Paige Romanowski, certified personal trainer, is the owner of BodyRite Training. She is excited to announce the opening of her new personal training studio in Jamesport on January 4.  Visit Paige’s website at bodyritetraining.com

Fitness is accessible to everyone these days. Information pours through your smartphone from all directions regarding the newest trend in exercise and what really is the ticket to the perfect body. I can barely stomach a lot of the nonsense I see on Instagram and Twitter because most of it is trendy, dangerous and not very functional. Call me old school, but I like good old fashion human movement that makes sense to our bodies and for our day-to-day lives. 

The complaint factor can be high in the hour of fitness with BodyRite Training. Times are tough when the heart rates are high and there’s still eight minutes left until quitting time. Everyone has a favorite exercise or two, maybe it’s because they can perform it well or maybe it’s because they understand the benefits. Squatting is by far a favorite of the BodyRite community. Absolutely no one complains when it’s time to give a SQUAT and here’s why. 

Squatting was a fundamental and vital movement for all of us as babies. Lowering ourselves into a squat meant access to all of our favorite things on the floor. As age takes over, squatting on a regular basis becomes a movement of the past and not so vital in our every day lives. Nowadays, gyms make it such that one doesn’t even have to squat thanks to the invention of nautilus equipment. Members can meander through the maze of isolation equipment crowding the gym floor in search of the leg extension, leg curl or leg press machine. Functional trainers like myself cringe at such equipment because it not only takes up floor space, but most of all seated isolation machinery doesn’t get the human body moving the way it was intended to.  

Squats are amazing because they do so many things for our bodies all at once. The central nervous system turns on when squats are performed properly. Human growth hormone and testosterone are released which is a big positive in order for muscle growth and overall muscle mass improvement to take place. As mentioned previously, squatting is a functional movement which means it has application in our every day lives. I never squat my clients on a Smith machine because it restricts natural human movement and seems counterintuitive to me. I prefer clients working with strength training implements like kettle bells, sandbags or barbells when squatting. Squatting without the assistance of a guided track requires the body’s stabilizing muscles making up one’s “core” to engage, thus improving overall balance and coordination. Because squatting is a multi-joint exercise or compound movement, more than one muscle group gets involved in order to produce this very complex movement. Squatting taxes the body incredibly because almost every muscle becomes a participant. 

Because of the positive stress that squatting imposes on the body, more energy must be expended in order to perform such a movement. Exercise that requires more work for our bodies logically demand more energy. The squat is an excellent choice for burning calories versus sitting down on a piece of nautilus equipment. Sports performance will certainly increase if squatting is a part of one’s fitness regime. Having trouble completing that 5k in under 30 minutes? Consider incorporating weighted squats into your weekly routine and watch you athletic abilities improve! 

The positives of squatting are abundant – almost too many to count. Stop going to the gym and sitting down for your workout. Turn up the heat on your squats and try increasing your working weight. Eliminate the number of squats per set and try squatting for time. Step away from the Smith machine and try squatting in the front rack position with a kettle bell. The possibilities are endless and so is your human potential. If necessary, hire an experienced functional trainer to help you with the fundamentals or better yet, come see me at BodyRite Training’s new location in Jamesport, New York!