I think the squat is a great exercise in a general fitness program with these three caveats:
1. The heels stay in contact with the floor throughout the entire movement, both the concentric and eccentric phases.
2. The knees do not flex beyond 90 degrees.
3. The knees do not go in front of the toes.
Yes I squat! it is the king of all exercises and has a hormonal effect that no other exercise can produce..not even the deadlift. No other exercise can replace the squat in its entirety. Form is paramount and should be learned from a qualified person who understands the biomechanics of the motion as well as the “functional anatomy” of whats involved.
If someone is looking for strength and athletic improvement the squat should be a staple in their routine.
I would also like to address the knees past 90 degrees myth…it is false. stopping at 90 degrees in the knees leads to a quad dominant squatter which places excess stress on the ACL caused by a shearing effect of the femur and tibia due to the disadvantaged position of pull for the hamstrings not allowing the hamstrings to pull the tibia posteriorly.
A lot of the mechanics of the squat is dependent on anthropometry of the individual we can’t just say no knees over toes or don’t go past 90.
If anybody wants to read more on the mechanics of the squat pick up a copy of “Starting Strength 2nd ed.” by Riptoe and Kilgore. There is like 60 pages devoted just to the mechanics of the squat.
I know squat!
I am at a loss for words to describe how I feel about squat. 8)). Squat is one of the first movements we do as toddlers and we do it so beautifully. Children even perform squats beyond 90 degree flexion and rise up from that deep squat position with little effort. And they can do it on sand in a sandbox with a plastic shovel and bucket their hands.
Somehow something called life happens where we forget how to perform functional movements like the squat and have to be retaught the movement. It’s always a joy when I am able to teach someone how to perform a squat and so see their face when all the components of the squat fall into place for them and they feel the fullness of that complex yet simple movement.
Thanks for a great question!
Squats are a great lower body exercise and can be instrumental in your developing strength and power. That being said, they may not be for everyone. Squats may not be the best or safest exercise for people with structural issues such as bad knees. However even if working with clients with some physical issues, there are modifications or other exercises that can be used.