Why Squats Are the Best Strength-Building Exercise for Your Legs

The story around squats is confusing. Some say “squat every day” while others warn “squats are bad for your knees!” The truth is in the middle—squats are amazing for building lower body strength, but at the same time they can cause problems for the uninitiated. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the barbell back squat, and why it’s worth your attention.

Source: Why Squats Are the Best Strength-Building Exercise for Your Legs

Body weight squats are can be effective. We do them regularly in my boot camp class at the gym and after a couple of sets, you can definitely feel them. As always make sure your form is good (keep your weight on your heels…you should be able to wiggle your toes, keep your chest up, back straight, make sure your knees don’t go in front of your toes, etc).

You can change exactly what muscles are used by changing your leg and foot position (narrow or wide squats, plie squats with your feet wider apart and your toes turned out, etc). Putting your hands on your head (prisoner squats) can ramp up the difficulty a bit more. If you want to improve your power (and have good knees) you can do jump squats.

Get Serious About Strength and Balance With One-Legged Squats

Lots of people seem to disregard the effectiveness of calisthenics arguing that it’s not good enough for lower body development.

However, as I have talked in another post there are lots of calisthenics exercises to challenge your lower body.

In this article, I am going to cover one of the most famous calisthenics leg exercises, the pistol squat.

Source: The Definite Guide to the Pistol Squat

I haven’t seen any yoga postures that are identical to the pistol squat, but there’s stuff that’s close.  The legs for Eagle posture for a start, but the balancing foot posture that I can’t remember or find the name of is really close to the pistol squat.

Either way, the page is very comprehensive about how to work up to the pistol squat if you aren’t there already.

12-Minute Daily Yoga Sessions Could Help Improve Your Bone Health

Knowing that more than 700,000 spinal fractures and more than 300,000 hip fractures occur annually in the United States, Dr. Fishman hoped that similar findings from a much larger study might convince doctors that this low-cost and less dangerous alternative to bone-loss drugs is worth pursuing.

Those medications can produce adverse side effects like gastrointestinal distress and fractures of the femur. Indeed, a recent study published in Clinical Interventions in Aging found that among 126,188 women found to have osteoporosis, all of whom had Medicare Part D drug coverage, only 28 percent started bone drug therapy within a year of diagnosis.

Many of those who avoided drugs were trying to avoid gastrointestinal problems.

On the other hand, yoga’s “side effects,” Dr. Fishman and colleagues wrote recently, “include better posture, improved balance, enhanced coordination, greater range of motion, higher strength, reduced levels of anxiety and better gait.”

Source: 12 Minutes of Yoga for Bone Health

I want to believe, but the study had no control group and the exercise is self reported.

Does It Matter How Many Reps You Do When You Work Out?

Do you even lift? 😉

So, your workout has you doing 4 sets of 5 reps for this exercise, 3 sets of 8 after that, and—oh, thank goodness—only 2 sets of 50 to finish it out. Well, hey, the good news is that these rep numbers aren’t just based on a sadistic desire to see you huff and puff. Here’s how they differ and what they mean for you.

Source: Does It Matter How Many Reps You Do When You Work Out?

I haven’t seen anyone connect high intensity training with the heavy, low rep approach that is proven to increase strength.  I don’t know that they are related…

The Real Benefit to Working Out With a Buddy

It turns out there are real performance benefits to working out with a buddy. But aside from motivation from moral support and distracting you from the pain, those improvements can also come from another interesting source: insecurity.

Source: The Real Benefit to Working Out With a Buddy

If you don’t know your limit, the Köhler effect can really mess up your workout.  I’ve seen a lot of people burn themselves out trying to keep up with a group they should not be.  I’m not a good runner, but I see it when swimming and cycling.

I met someone last year whose strategy was to go with the fastest group, and try to hang on with the hope that there’d be improvement as time went on.  This person was so used up, they couldn’t hang onto the second fastest group.  I don’t know if they made the third…  It was ambitious, and there are some for whom that would work.  There’s value in trying to see if you can, but have an exit strategy in case it’s too much.  It might not be today that you fit with that group, and it’s fine to take it down a notch for a speed/distance/etc that you can in order to get stronger.

What to Do If Push-Ups Hurt Your Wrists

It’s hard to get stronger by doing planks and push-ups if your wrists can’t comfortably support your weight. Here are some strategies to work around those tight wrists and eventually improve your strength in them.

Source: What to Do If Push-Ups Hurt Your Wrists

Using something as a handle – kettle bell/etc – can really help.

Will Stronger Abs Help You Poop Faster?

The intestines themselves are smooth muscle, however, there is a large involvement in straining thoracic and abdominal muscles whilst defecating.  The abdominal muscles act to increase the pressure within the abdomen following contraction to prevent mechanical damage to the spine during dynamic movements, assist posture etc but also this can assist in the movement of a stool.

The mechanism of excretion is an intrinsic reflex that is stereotyped to produce a certain intensity and speed if intestinal contraction called a mass movement. So, your defecating won’t be ‘faster’ as they travel through the intestine, but you will have more force available to you to move very dry, compact stool, or large stools out of the bowel which may require your assistance.

In short, no, having a six pack will not mean you have super charged defecating that fly out of your rectum, but you will be able to increase the pressure available to you to push stool out.  Careful though, don’t use those gains for a grade 3 rectal tear…

Know that bathroom posture affects your health – we’re not meant to sit on the toilet seat.  Squatting is the natural position for our body to poop (and give birth for that matter).

Fun Fact: The “Poop Splash” is actually called a “Worthington Jet“.  Yes, some guy out there thought it so fascinating, that in 1895 he did the science on it.

How to Turn Yoga into Badass Exercise with Advanced Poses

Yoga can be more than a relaxing way to spend a rest day. It can be a challenge in itself: you can build serious strength working up to impressive poses like Crow or Dancer.

Source: How to Turn Yoga into Badass Exercise with Advanced Poses

What’s advanced depends on your ability. I can hang out in Crow, have some difficulty getting into Stork …but wrapping my leg around for Eagle? The squat portion isn’t an issue. My Half Moon is getting better – it’s not the pose, just the balance. But my hips are incredibly loose – my leg will fall out of Toe stand, double pigeon is more comfortable for me to sit in than cross legs.

My take is that we all have at least one yoga pose that we can do really well. Might not be the one we want…

Skip the Tiny Weights: Weight Lifting Isn’t That Different for Women

So many strength workouts for women stray from actual strength and power development, emphasizing lighter weights. This perpetuates the notion that the workouts men do somehow just aren’t for us. But that isn’t the case. Women can and should weight train just as intensely, and with the same exercises and programs, as men, if they want to.

Source: Skip the Tiny Weights: Weight Lifting Isn’t That Different for Women

It’s all about what works for you.