With the holiday season coming up we are faced with a nationwide dilemma that occurs every year – excess calorie consumption coupled with a shortage of time to exercise!
Beginning with Halloween, Americans have made it tradition to eat their way to a larger waistline to enter the New Year with. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning holiday feasts or second helpings of dessert (I do it too) but what I’d like to do is present you with an option that might make you feel a little less guilty about gorging yourself.
A question I am commonly asked is, “How do I lose weight?”, in one form or another. My answer is always the same, “Eat less and move more.” Weight loss almost always comes down to calories in versus calories out (of course, quality of the calorie matters too). So if you plan on eating more this holiday season, I would encourage you to exercise more as well.
The catch 22 is that all of the family gatherings during this time of year have a tendency to get in the way of your exercise program. One solution is to break your routine up into smaller but more frequent sessions.
What if you can’t get to the gym? By now you should know that bodyweight exercises are as effective as they are convenient.
You should also know how important it is to squat. Squatting is as natural and as necessary as walking; in fact, you can’t walk if you don’t stand up first! Squatting is not only one of the most basic human movements but it’s also a great way build strength in your legs.
The muscles in the lower body make up approximately half of all of your musculature, and when you squat you use virtually every single one of those muscles.
Squatting is a great exercise in and of itself! If you put time into doing no other exercise but the squat, it would be time well spent!
So here is what I propose, a “Squat Challenge” to all of our members to do more squatting this holiday season.
The squat is the king of all lower body exercises. It works all the major muscles groups in the thighs, hips and low back – and these are some of the largest/strongest muscles in the body. There is a lot of potential for strength & development in the lower body and it all starts with the squat.
Consider the notion that our legs are our foundation, and like any building, the stronger the foundation is the stronger the structure atop it will be. To the teenage boys I train that do not workout the body parts they cannot see in the bathroom mirror, I like to use analogies to help them understand the importance of training the legs.
Think of your body like a tree: the trunk of the tree will always be bigger than its branches. But as the trunk increases in size and strength, so do the branches.
You can’t shoot a cannon out of a canoe. So if you want big guns you gotta have strong legs.
The bigger the base of the pyramid, the higher it’s peak.
I could go on…
The point is that you need to achieve a balance between your upper-body and lower-body strength; and under normal conditions, your lower body should be several times stronger than your upper body.
I encourage everyone to incorporate some bodyweight squats into their exercise program if they are not already doing so. Aside from the fact that it is a great exercise to develop the muscles of the lower body, take note of the everyday activities such as getting up out of a chair, getting in and out of bed, climbing stairs and even walking. The carryover effect of squatting to your daily activities is not one to be overlooked.
The above article was written for a retirement community with an average age of 88. If you’re reading this now, you should be adding weight to your squats.
Bodyweight squats are great and all, and you can get a good workout in less than 5 minutes doing them, but the chances are that you are not a community dwelling senior who has a hard time getting up out of a chair. You are capable of handling a lot more resistance. So whether in the form of goblet squats or back squats, 1/4 or full, olympic or power, for strength or endurance, squat some weight this holiday season and give those extra calories a place to go.