Squats are an important exercise to include in your workout plan. Whether you`re a guy looking to gain lean muscle mass, bulk up, or you're just trying to get in better shape and lower your body fat percentage, squats are one of the most effective exercises a man can do for those purposes. Although squats primarily work the muscles in a man's lower body, they also help by stimulating a large growth-hormone release, improving the development of your upper body at the same time.
The basic squat most guys know is the front squat. With this exercise, you squat down as though you are sitting in a chair to the point where your thighs are just past parallel to the floor. Other variations of this exercise include the split squat, hack squat and the full squat in which you descend lower than with a front squat, until your hips and knees are fully bent. You can use your own body weight as resistance, hold a dumbbell in each hand, or a barbell with squats. If you're more interested in getting big muscle gains, the more difficult variations -- hack squat and full squat -- are ideal to include in your workout.
Benefits of Squats
As a power exercise, squats offer many important benefits as part of a man's total workout plan, namely that they work multiple muscle groups in one movement. That includes the quadriceps, hamstrings, gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in the calves, and the gluteus maximus muscles in the buttocks. Regardless of your personal fitness goals, all men need proper body proportion to prevent strength imbalances and postural difficulties, and the squat is one of the best exercises to help with this. Squats improve the strength and size of your muscles, and also help enhance your core strength and balance, as well as improve flexibility, notes Jeremey DuVall of Men's Fitness.
Mind Your Foot Position
The position of the feet greatly affects the muscles targeted in a guy's body during squats. To hit the quadriceps and hamstrings in your upper legs, keep a narrower stance with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Widening your stance to hip-width or slightly wider develops the abductor muscles on the outer thighs and the gluteal muscles in your buttocks. As Muscle & Fitness advises, guys who want to put the focus more on the adductor muscles along the inner thighs should point their toes on a wide angle during the exercise.
Precautions to Consider
Maintaining proper form is essential when performing squats, especially when you're incorporating weights into the exercise. Regardless of which type of squat you do, try to keep your back straight, core engaged, and your chest up and out, with your shoulders back. Keep most of your weight on the heels of your feet, and push up off your heels, not your toes. Even the strongest, most experienced fitness guys can benefit from having a spotter, especially after you work your way up to a heavier weight.