I never get this question from people who come into my gym. They usually always agree to squat whenever we are doing them. Are they hesitant to go all the way into the bottom of the squat? Sure, but that’s not a fear of squatting. It’s more a lack of knowledge of what a real squat is. I generally get push back from people who haven’t squatted in years or don’t normally squat in their fitness regimen that the squat is possibly dangerous. The longevity of this fallacy is really quite amazing.
I don’t recall the exact story as to how it started, but I do know for sure the push back came from a doctor here in Texas in the 1940s or 1950s. He had a patient come to him complaining of knee pain and immediately diagnosed the squat as a movement no one should do below parallel. This notion, astoundingly, perpetrated major universities, as well as most doctors. The squat has been around since before time was time. The squat was never invented. It is the ORIGINAL way to sit down. Yes. The squat was originally how people or homosapiens began sitting. It was just a form of resting. It’s something you should just be able to do. It’s so rudimentary that I would compare a person who can’t reach full depth on a squat to someone who doesn’t know their ABCs.
The ABCs are the very first step to learning English and in that same spirit, the squat should be the very first step in being physically competent. We aren’t even talking displaying excellence in the squat with weight. We are simply saying holding the bottom of the squat with no other resistance than your own bodyweight is something every man, woman, and child should be able to do, no questions asked. Now, as any intelligent species does, we take something and find ways to enhance its ability to provide more for us.
So, we took the squat and put a very steady and stable object on our backs while we do it to provide more resistance, a barbell. I’m sure at some point in history somewhere people were trying to test how well they could squat by holding a giant boulder or some odd object. Then one day, someone decided to invent this very stable object that always had weight evenly distributed. Voila, the barbell.
We use it to enhance our very simple, natural body weight movement. The heavier your ability to squat, generally the better you are at the simple fundamental form of squatting. It’s just something you should be able to do. I really don’t even care to argue about the benefits of it. It really doesn’t strike me as something I should have to convince someone of; if you can’t squat, you can’t say your physical ABCs.
The athletic benefits, however, I will explain briefly. I’ve never met two athletes where the one who was better at squatting wasn’t the better athlete. There explanation over. Is it possible that LeBron James may not be able to squat properly? Sure, but it certainly begs the question, just how much more freakishly athletic would he be if he could? We often get comfortable with what works. This is human nature. We don’t like change if we’ve found something that works for us. But, the thought shouldn’t be, “Well this works fine.” It should be, “What if this will make it work better?” Squat.
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