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The squat is arguably one of the most beneficial exercises you can perform in the weight room. So often in conversation, the narrative around squats is geared solely toward aesthetic gains. However, squatting is a rudimentary part of human movement. Think about it: How often do we get up from a chair in one day? How often do we squat down to pick something up off of the ground? How often do we bend down to get in and out of the car?
The point is: we squat every single day, whether we are taking the time to be intentional with our form or not. If we want to live a life of quality well into our later years, we must squat properly and squat often. A proper squat not only strengthens our muscles, but it also fortifies the ligaments, tendons and bones. The result: longevity via movement.
If the functional benefits aren’t convincing enough to get us to the squat rack, maybe the hormonal benefits will be. Compound exercises such as the squat are great for increasing testosterone. Ratamess et al. found that post-exercise testosterone levels were significantly increased following 6 sets of 10 squats. This study is a reminder that we don’t need to max out every time we are in the gym in order to increase testosterone. Instead, focus on volume. Find a weight that would be considered moderate and crank out more than the typical 3 sets of 10 that you have been doing since high school. Above all else, do them correctly by paying attention to your form.
There is a lot more to a squat than just sitting down and standing up. If you don’t believe me, try these tips and see how much better your squat feels.
Master these squatting principles with bodyweight first, then start adding resistance. For beginners, my favorite way to add resistance is starting with the goblet squat. To perform a goblet squat: simply hold a dumbbell or kettlebell underneath your chin and follow the steps listed above.
A progression from the goblet squat is the barbell back squat. The basic principles of the squat remain the same. However, since you now have a barbell on your upper back, squeezing your shoulder blades together and pulling them down prior to un-racking the weight will be incredibly helpful. The back squat can seem like a risky movement at first but, as long as you follow the tips listed above and prioritize form over weight, you will be squatting safely.
So, if you are looking for a way to boost your testosterone and prepare your joints for a long life full of activity — learn to squat. Be mindful of how you squat every time you sit down and stand up. Create that healthy movement habit for yourself in life and in the gym.
NASM CPT, TRS
Masters in Exercise Science & Sports Psychology
Movement and Mobility Specialist
Crewther, B. T., Cook, C. J., Gaviglio, C. M., Kilduff, L. P., & Drawer, S. (2012). Baseline strength can influence the ability of salivary free testosterone to predict squat and sprinting performance. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 26(1), 261-268.
Ratamess NA, Kraemer WJ, Volek JS, et al. Androgen receptor content following heavy resistance exercise in men. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2005 Jan; 93 (1): 35-42
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