Here is a artcile I wrote for another site. It might be of some interest to some of you.
If you need the references let me know.
Squats - They do the body good!
"If you don't do what's best for your body, you're the one who comes up on the short end." -- Julius Erving
My most terrifying (yet exhilarating) gym experience occurs every Wednesday morning I usually prepare myself a hearty breakfast, and then focus on the near-death experience that will occur in the following hour or so. Every Wednesday I squat.
Anyone who squats knows that it's not a exercise to be taken lightly. For those of you who are sitting there scratching your heads and thinking, "what's this guy talking about", let me explain.
I'm sure you've heard, on numerous occasions, the expression, "You gotta squat". What people don't realize is that squatting is like going the extra mile, and it requires a 110% effort and nothing less. Squatting is something that you must learn to do with the mind as well as the whole body. A proper integration of mental and physical energies will ensure that one will be able to squat using a "total" effort.
In the squat there are numerous muscles of the body working in unison to provide the stability and mobility needed for this movement. It has been suggested that there are up to (and possibly more than) 200 muscles involved in this lift.
One question that is often asked is, "how do squats promote growth throughout the body?" To answer this requires more than simply saying that it's a compound movement. It involves multiple joints and muscles which in turn increase the level at which the nervous system must coordinate movement in conjunction with the lifter's muscle-skeletal system.
Exercises like the squat can produce a dramatic effect on the body by increasing, among other things, one's hypertrophy and maximal strength. To understand why, we will look briefly at several of the body's systems. The body is complex and integrated with many of its systems interwoven with each other and working synergistically to produce an effect.
Here are some helpful excerpts from the NCSA _Strength and Conditioning Manual_:
The hormonal system or what is known as the endocrine system added with the nervous system makes up what is known as the term, "neuroendocrinology". This term describes the relationship of chemical substances that have both neural and hormonal functions. Usually the endocrine glands are stimulated to release hormones by a chemical signal received by the receptors on the gland or by neural stimulation (resistance training).
The increase in anabolic hormone levels observed consequent to the performance of heavy resistance exercise can increase hormonal interactions with various cellular mechanisms and enhance the development of muscle protein contractile units. On neural stimulation from an alpha motor neuron to initiate a muscle action, various signals (electrical, chemical, and hormonal) are sent from the brain and from activated muscles to a number of endocrine glands. Hormones are secreted during and after the resistance exercise bout to the physiological stress of resistance exercise" (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 , 8, 9, 10).
In plain terms this means that the nervous, muscle-skeletal, and hormonal systems are responsible for the effects promoted by exercises like the squat. There are various hormones which produce this effect, and the one that most people are familiar with is testosterone. It's been documented that testosterone serum concentrations can increase independently or with various exercise variables (2, 8, 11, 12). The squat, which is defined as a large muscle-group exercise, is one of them.
So now that we've learned how some of the human body's systems are involved with exercise, the 64,000 dollar question is. . .where do squats fit in?
Squats can increase growth throughout the body because they use numerous muscles and this means they stimulate more muscle fibers than, say, an exercise like the leg press. The greater the fiber recruitment, the greater the process for potential remodeling in the muscle or, since we're referring to the Squat, this will activate many muscles.
Only muscle fibers that are recruited by resistance training are subject to adaptation including hormonal adaptation and, as I said above, the more muscles used in a exercise like the squat the more the muscle fibers are stimulated. Squats increase serum testosterone concentrations as they are large muscle- group exercises ( 2, 9, 10, 13, 14, 16).
Squatting intensely can also increase serum testosterone concentration levels using 80-95% of your 1RM.
Squatting using a high volume of sets or using short rest periods between 60-90 seconds has also been found to raise serum testosterone concentration.
To increase Growth Hormone, squat using high reps that are associated with higher lactate concentrations (10).
So there, you have it. Squatting can lead to overall growth--which is not to say that you will reach 250 pounds if you just do squats. However, a squat in conjunction with other large muscle-group exercises will put you on the road to an increasingly muscular physique, especially if you keep a watchful eye on diet and restorations practices.
You may grow weary of simply squatting with bar strewn across your back, so I've taken the liberty of compiling a variety of ways you can squat which will help keep your interest-level at its peak.
Smith Machine Squat
One Legged Squat
Side Lunge Squats
Standing Swiss Ball
Squat Partial squats
Pile Squat Box Squats
Written by Maki Riddington
Thread: Why Squats Are Important!