We boost immunity with antioxidant drinks, fight inflammation with superfruit tonics, drink vitamin & mineral water and guzzle down protein shakes. Nothing wrong with all of this – unless you don’t do squats. Squats changed my life in weeks – and they can do the same for you. Teaser – want to be happier? Do squats. Want stronger relationships? Do squats. Want to save your life…read on.
As my mother use to say – you can immediately tell the health and overall wellness of a person by looking at their butt. Like it or not, it announces to the world your state of health and how you live your life. There really is little hiding this backside billboard unless you plan on sitting through life. Yoga pants can only Houdini away the truth for so long. No cardio – it shows. No squats – we can see. Binging on ice cream and The Bachelor – it’s all there on display for the world behind you to see.
First, a guy thing. For us guys, there’s nothing worse than the top-heavy look. The off balanced muscular upper body bobbling awkwardly atop of a pair of hairy twig legs. Legions of dedicated gym rats bulk up quickly above the waist only to be imprisoned in track pants hiding a pair of underdeveloped sickly looking twig legs. It’s really embarrassing for everyone – both for the off balanced guy and the audience witnessing this awkward show.
Myself, I wasn’t much better than my top-heavy peacock friends. Yes, I admit I occasionally dawned the tight “Baby Gap” shirt to amplify my upper body. I tirelessly and begrudgingly struggled through countless leg days at the gym with limited results. My routine never changed, and I seemed to be forever stuck at the same weight and lower body strength. There were times I became impatient and piled on a few too many plates only to be set back further with a series of painful lower back injuries. Fortunately for me, I am an avid mountain biker, so I was able to develop and maintain some leg strength climbing mountains despite failing miserably in the gym. Sadly, because I was hitting my legs both infrequently and incorrectly, I missed the true benefits of squats in my youth. This was a big miss, and I am only now realizing the amazing benefits of squats.
What I now know, is that apart from producing a showcase lower body, squats also power you through your day. Yet, there are additional even more important reasons to do squats. More on this in a minute.
For me, the realization of the benefits of squats came during the COVID pandemic. Like many of us, I was cut off from the gym. This as it turns out was a blessing. My highly ineffective gym routine was shut down and I was forced to reinvent not only my workout but my life. As of writing this blog it is April 1st, 2021. I have been able to build-back-better my physical and more importantly my emotional and spiritual strength. (no April Fool’s joke!). How? I was introduced to the benefits of the kettlebell workout and legions of great YouTube advice. Now at 49 years old, I can do things I couldn’t possibly do when I was 25. Then along came a host of emotional and spiritual gains I didn’t expect – these were more profound than anything I could have imagined.
My metamorphosis began when I stole a 13lbs kettlebell from the office where I worked. I was desperate for equipment because COVID made it impossible to source any gym equipment. I remember standing in my garage looking down at the stolen kettlebell wondering how I could turn this little weight into an overall body workout. I jumped online to find out what I could do.
If you have never done a 5-minute kettlebell only workout – I would highly recommend you do so as soon as possible. Start your transformation with Mike Rosa’s Anabolic Alien series of 5 Minute Kettlebell Only Workouts. It’s intense, brutal and highly effective at waking up muscles.
Today, I still have my stolen 13lb kettlebell along with two 25lb bells, two 35lb bells, Rogue parallette bars and the truly amazing gymnastics rings hanging from garage ceiling. I have also incorporated a weekly end-to-end 17-Mile Drive bike ride, inline skating, skimboarding and a puppy for long walks. Most importantly, my four girls who I adore usually keep me busy.
Squats now are the single most important part of my exercise routine. Without them nothing else matters. Kettlebells ensure I have perfect form; they are accessible right beside my home office (no excuses) and I have plenty of videos to watch while crushing through brutal lower body exercises. I find the humor from watching Jimmy Kimmel clips seem to distract me from the agony of each set.
Before getting into my routine and the life changing benefits, here are 10 obvious and maybe not so obvious reasons why you should do squats:
- Strengthens Your Core: Squats will strengthen your back and abs along with every muscle from your hips to your toes. According to powerliftingtechnique.com squats will activate your core but may not give you that six pack you want – you’ll need to do some other routines including cardio to get ripped.
- Crushes Calories: According to tigerfitness.com squats have been shown to be more effective than running. Burned-calories.com says you will burn around 8 calories for every minute doing normal intensity squats. The average amount of squats in one minute is 25. With 100 Squats you will burn approximately 80 calories. Also, the more muscle you have the more calories you burn in a day – so build those leg muscles to burn more calories.
- Can Install a Butt: For years it seemed like pants just hung off me like I was a coat hanger. Then I did squats and installed a butt. It was actually my brother one day who commented…” what’s up with your pants, they fit now.”
- Improves Posture: Front squats force you into a thoracic extension and thus pull your shoulders back and open them. Squats in general help battle the slouching posture that prolonged sitting can trigger.
- Better Sex: Better shape means better sex. Plus, squats cause a spike in hormone production.
- Up Your Happiness Quotient: Squats cause a massive increase in endorphins, which help to relax the body and make you feel happier and calmer.
- Less Stress: It may seem counterintuitive, but squats lead to more peace and less stress. There is a profound calmness and ease of stress.
- Builds Character and Discipline: There is a feeling of mastery by starting and finish something difficult. Squats leave you feeling more capable and uplifted regardless of the chaos around you.
- Helps Prevent Injuries: Squats work almost every muscle in your body. A stronger, more agile and more flexible body will ultimately reduce the risk of injury.
- Increases Levels of DHEA Hormone: Studies suggest that heavy resistance training including squats can increase DHEA levels. DHEA has been studied for its potential to increase bone density, decrease body fat, improve sexual function and correct some hormonal problems.
Here is My Squat Routine. Warning – this is a highly effective routine, but it hurts. Start out with light weights. Write down your progress and track it…I can’t emphasize how important data tracking is for gains (MS OneNote or Google Docs are good tracking tools).
- Warm Up: I like what Mike Rosa has developed in his Anabolic Aliens YouTube series. I start my leg workout with the Intense 5 Minute Kettlebell Leg Workout,
Tip: An hour before my leg routine I drink a Sweet Prairie Haskap Cold Brew. I can only assume it’s the quercetin and caffeine together that turns this drink into rocket fuel. I feel like I can bite through the kettlebell I have so much energy. Obviously, we also sell Sweet Prairie Haskap. But I’m sharing what has worked for me and this drink works. I can safely say I wouldn’t be a member of the Century Club without it. Go easy on the coffee if you get the jitters regularly…doing the routine below gets your heart pounding and too much caffeine works against you.
- Goblet Squat (35lbs – 3 sets of 100): Wake up and blast your legs muscles. This is a progressive routine where I started out struggling through 3 sets of 10 squats. I slowly worked my way up to 3 sets of 80. On April 10, 2021, I joined the Century Club and hit my first set of 100. This routine is the core of my workout. It has transformed my lower body adding strength, definition and mass like no low rep barbell squat could ever achieve.
- Racked Kettlebell Squat (70lbs – 3 sets of 10): After the goblet squats, particularly when you are working between 80-100 reps, your legs are fatigued. This one is a killer, but it really finishes off your thighs.
- Offset Reverse Lunge (35lbs – 3 sets of 10): This exercise is easy on the knees and focuses on the thighs and glutes which are needed for power and stability. At this point your legs are soggy spaghetti if you have kept your form and pushed hard. Be patient and be ok with lower weights here.
- Bonus Round: This is one set of anything that targets an area where I feel I need more work. For me, the upper chest is an issue as it is underdeveloped. I am supporting this area with Over-Head Half Crush Goblet Press. Other days I’ll do a routine of sit ups. I would encourage you to try Mike Rosa 5 Minute Ab routine.
ONLY DO THIS LEG ROUTINE ONCE PER WEEK. You are overtraining if you do it more than once in a 7-day period.
So, there it is in all it’s simple but brutal glory. A very basic, no nonsense leg routine incorporating kettlebell squats as the core. With discipline, time, good nutrition and rest it will work for you.
The euphoric feelings I experience after completing this grueling workout should be illegal and they last for days. It matters less how bad my week is going because I have tackled this squat routine. My legs and body are pumped. The recovery soreness is satisfying. My mood is positive. I feel strong. I am happier. As an added bonus, my libido is on fire even during the hardest of weeks.
If you’ve read this far, I’ll share a final thought with you. This routine not only changed my life…it saved it. Prior to COVID, I lost a business. I had no income. My marriage and my family were on the ropes. Then COVID hit. I was locked in the house. I lost a dead-end job. Finally, I lost someone close to me. Seemingly the world was coming to an end for me. However, the law of nature is that all bad times are temporary. This is an unbreakable law.
Thankfully, before getting fired I stole a kettlebell from the dead-end job and started doing squats. Oddly and honestly, that kettlebell saved my life. Despite the mess of my life and COVID, I just started to build-back-better — I STARTED WITH SQUATS. Today, my health is better than ever. I have two businesses blossoming for some unknown reason. My relationships are back on track and getting awesome again. Life is coming back online. This turnaround happened in months and it all started with squats.
The message. No matter how bad or far gone you feel – DO SQUATS. You can and will build-back-better. I did…and I’m nothing special.