Squats are a compound exercise, working the glutes and quadriceps muscles. Correct form is essential for strength and mass gains. Lifting weights beyond capacity, over training and incorrect exercise techniques can lead to soreness and injuries. Workouts with heavy weight will increase muscle size and body weight. Increased size and weight may not be an intended goal for everyone, particularly women.
Common technique errors include squatting with a too wide or narrow stance, weight shifted forward instead of back and bringing hips too low below knee level. These errors can lead to knee injuries. Back injuries may occur when deviating from a natural back arch. Improper bar placement may result in neck or upper back injuries. Excessive squat workouts will strain muscles, tendons and ligaments supporting the knee area. Problems include overstretched ligaments, commonly known as sprains, and overstretched muscles and tendons, commonly known as strains
Muscle joints, supporting tendons and supporting ligaments respond poorly to excessive and repetitive movements or too heavy of a weight and/or incorrect form. Repetition may lead to joint pain and muscle soreness. Exercising above threshold levels may produce pain and muscular soreness. There are two types of soreness: acute soreness and delayed soreness. Acute soreness occurs immediately after exercising due to lactic acid buildup. Delayed soreness occurs one to five days later. Inadequate rest and recovery time between workouts will increase soreness and increase the chance of injury.
All weight training programs should include equal amounts of intensity for opposing muscle groups. The quadriceps muscle group in the front thigh works opposite the hamstring group in the back part of the thigh. Overloading squat workouts may create an imbalance between quadriceps muscles and the opposing muscle group, the hamstrings. If you have strong quadriceps and weak hamstrings, you are more likely to suffer from pulled hamstring muscles.
Strength gains from squat workouts may cause tightening of the muscles and the tendons and ligaments, the connective tissue in the knee joint. Tight muscles, tendons and ligaments limit the lengthening of the opposing muscle groups and reduce flexibility ranges. Lack of flexibility may increase pain and injury.
Increases in muscle strength correlate with increases in muscle mass. When dieting or weight loss is not part of the training program, the results can include gains is muscle size and body weight. While this may be a goal for males, it may not be an intended goal for females. Understanding the training effects before beginning a workout program prevents these unintended results.
- Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition and Human Performance; William D. McArdle, Victor L. Katch and Frank I. Katch
- Being Fit: A Personal Guide; Bud Getchall
- Health/Fitness Instructor's Handbook; Edward T. Howley and B. Don Franks