You’ve discovered the squat. One of the “big three” exercises that all athletes should do to increase overall strength has become a passion for you. This is a good thing!
Squatting with weight will improve muscle growth and strength throughout your body like no other exercise.
It is exciting to start squatting with weight as part of a lifting program, but there are certain things you should do to make your squats count more.
Every type of squat variation has the potential to push your entire body to its limits. Some things that you should do before and after squats workout will make the motion more beneficial, and they will help your body recover more quickly.
Why The Squat Is So Effective?
The most natural and distinctive human motion is standing upright. The largest muscle complexes in your body are found on your posterior chain. When these muscles work together, they help you stand, walk, run, jump, and climb easily.
The posterior chain muscles include:
- Lats (back).
- Gluteals (rear end).
- Hamstrings (back of the upper legs).
- Calves (back of the lower legs).
Not surprisingly, many of the things that you should do before and after squatting involve stretching and manipulating these muscles. Though the quads (front of the legs) are the primary movers in the squat exercise, the posterior chain is responsible for helping them work hard
The squat is effective because it focuses on the natural standing motion. It engages almost every large muscle group in the body. Since the large muscle groups are used, turning the squat into a heavy resistance exercise happens relatively quickly.
When heavy resistance is used, muscle growth and strength can skyrocket. Some studies also suggest that a person’s overall physique is highly influenced by how much they squat.
Many muscle fibers and nerves working together prompt the body to grow fast. Squatting definitely engages a maximum number of fibers and nerves at once. Strength and size increases should be expected when you put your time into doing squats.
Things To Do Just Before Performing Squats
You know that squatting requires your body to move in a very specific way. Every joint involved in the exercise should be warmed up before loading a bar.
You should do the following to make sure your body accept the challenge of squatting.
Lateral Shoulder Raises
Successful squatting requires your body to be in a proper power position with an arched back and non-slumped torso.
If your shoulders are cold they will not be able to support the weighed barbell as they should. Lift light weights with your arms to loosen every part of your shoulders.
This exercise loosens the knee, hip, and ankle joints. It signals to the body that longer, wider, and weighted steps are soon to follow.
Cold joints are not surrounded by enough lubrication. Injury can occur if joints are forced to perform lifts without internal fluid support. Try to lunge enough to make deep steps feel comfortable before squatting.
Stretch The Posterior Complex
Loosen your lower back, hamstrings, and calves before squatting. Try doing things like broomstick twists for your back, good mornings for your hams, and angled standing stretches for your calves.
Many people have a hard time doing proper squats when these body parts are tight.
A good indication that your posterior complex is tight happens during the first few reps of a squat routine. The giveaway is that your ankles will rise from the floor when you are in the lowered position.
When this happens all of the force in a squat is directed to your joints. Spend time stretching your posterior muscles to make every squat rep more productive.
Perform Several Unweighted Reps
Before your heavy squatting begins, condition your mind and body to the motion with a few unweighted reps.
Go through a few squat reps using only your body weight, or use a naked barbell. Unweighted warm-up reps will help you determine if your body has been properly prepared for weighted reps.
Things To Do After You Complete Squat Workout
If your muscles have been truly worked during a squat workout, they will return to a state not unlike what they were before you began. Instead of being cold and rigid, they will be pumped and rigid.
It is very important that you follow squats with motions that keep the muscles elongated, but ready to upload nutrients that are waiting in the bloodstream. Muscle fibers that have been worked hard are looking for a signal to start repairing.
After squats, try to do the following motions.
- Lunges and bodyweight motions similar to your warm-up sequence.
- Light secondary lifts like seated leg extensions and lying hamstring curls.
- 5-10 minutes on a stepper/climber machine or light aerobic exercises
- General lower body stretching.
Before, during, and after squat workouts you should stay hydrated. Water and intra-workout drinks are wonderful for keeping the body primed to do difficult lifts like the squat.
If you ever stop sweating during an intense squat session, this means that your body has run out of hydration.
An adrenaline response is occurring, and the muscles will respond negatively to squats by shortening. This is when squatting becomes ineffective.
In short, staying hydrated is one of the surest ways to make every rep count.
Pre-Squat and Post-Squat Nutrition
Since the squat involves the largest muscle groups in the body, having enough available protein is essential. Protein reserves provide an immediate stimulus for your muscles to recover and grow.
Carbohydrate reserves are also important. If you have planned a day for an intense squat workout, make sure your body is receiving enough clean carbohydrates for fuel at least two days before.
Getting the most out of squatting also requires your muscles to contract hard. If you are in the mode of trying to grow your leg muscles, do not skimp on elements that help your large muscles contract. Sodium, calcium, and magnesium should be plentiful in your system.
The following is the most important thing you should do after a strenuous squat workout
No amount of squatting will help you transform your physique if you do not give your body an opportunity to recover. On the day that you do intense squats, plan to eat your heaviest late meal, and get a good night’s rest.
This is especially important if you are the type of person who experiences delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Sometimes, squat soreness won’t happen for a few days.
Rest and nutrition help you get through these periods of soreness, and they help you prepare for another squat workout.
- Stay hydrated on days before squat workouts, and continue hydration to help with recovery.
- Fuel your squats with balanced amounts of macros like high-quality protein and non-sugary carbohydrates.
- Stretch every major muscle group, especially your posterior muscles, before squatting.
- Never start a squat workout with heavy weights.
- Follow squats with “cooling” exercises like lunges, leg extensions, hamstring curls, aerobic exercises, and abdominal movements.
Making squats a central part of your plan to build your physique should be a positive and progressive experience.
Nothing will ruin your squats like injuries and lackluster sessions. Make it a habit to do the proper things before and after your squats to make them as beneficial as possible.