Squatting plays a major role in my CrossFit and weightlifting training. I know that if I’ve got great squat numbers I’m going to have a great weightlifting performance to reflect it. My own training routine includes squatting a minimum of 3 times per week, mixing up both front and back squats as needed. So I’ve decided to compile a little list explaining my top 5 reasons why squatting is so important to me!
Muscle Building and overall Strength
Squatting is a foundational movement! Squatting is a completely natural movement which works the muscles of the back, quads, hamstrings, core, and calves. Practicing squats means keeping all of those muscles and the joints they articulate on both strong and mobile. I maintain a strict squatting routine to build that foundation of strength and muscle, which is what keeps me performing at my best as often as I can.
Building muscle mass (hypertrophy) is not really a priority in either Weightlifting or CrossFit, because weighing less is actually to my advantage, as long as I can maintain the level of strength I have built. However, there is always some mass that gets packed on when we do volume training, and a certain amount of mass is necessary to increase strength.
Overall strength is really what I am after. Without the functional strength I get from squatting, I wouldn’t be performing at the level that I do!
Functionality and Utility
Squatting is totally natural, we know that, so let’s talk more about why I really need to squat to perform! It’s one of the most functional parts of CrossFit; we see squatting in all the lifts, as well as wall balls, box jumps, etc.
The foundation of a good squat number and the mobility to perform front, back, and overhead squats correctly goes a long way! When I started out, a 1RM squat of 80kg would only get me so far… having a sizeable squat helps make all the other movements less intensified and more manageable.
Strong correlation to weightlifting
It’s pretty obvious to say, but any lifter is performing heaps of squats! The strength power required in my back and legs to move weights around requires a lot of squatting. After all, a clean is truly dependent upon whether you can stand up with that bar or not! Lifters typically squat 3 to 5 times per week at varying intensities and volumes, though often staying in the 2RM to 5RM range.
Improvement in Sprinting
Back squats are a favourite for all sprint athletes. It requires us to explode, with as much power as possible and using the exact same chain of muscles, in the same sequence, though unilaterally. I don’t want to say that squatting itself makes me faster, because that would be inaccurate to some degree. Squatting makes you stronger. The definition of “power” is the change in speed over time. So squatting allows me to generate the strength needed to improve my power.
Again, a foundation of strength is the most important part of your body that will make you perform generally better in all aspects.
Side note: A great exercise that I implement is jumping barbell squats. This has helped my power and my ability to be more explosive, particularly with the starts of races.
Improvement in Core Strength
All of the movements we do are initiated in the core. Think of walking, running, lifting, and all of the overhead movements I need. All the planks and sit-ups in the world couldn’t strengthen my core like squats do!
The oblique and transverse abdominals are stabilised through squats as the load is placed at the top of the spine, forcing it to maintain and upright position. The mechanics of a front squat put even more stress on the core as the weight is shifted anterior, creating a longer lever to force through. Front squats work my core in the most functional way possible, because it replicates exactly the strength I need for cleans, wall balls, thrusters, as well as a lot of the overhead work.
Well there you have it… My top 5 reasons for squatting!