The Squat: The Universal Movement

On November 9, 2013 by Matthew Chan

The Squat is a universal movement that all physical art forms share in one form or another. Various forms of the squat are used in martial arts, combat, dancing, yoga, qigong, gymnastics, aerobics, and of course, weight training–it is used as an exercise to build strength and stamina, to generate force, to help find ones center, etc.

The legs are to the body what the trunk is to a tree. The stronger the tree trunk is, the more the tree can grow, develop and branch out. Strong legs are the foundation of a great physique–aesthetically and functionally.

If you ask a martial artist where each punch and kick begins, they will tell you it begins from the feet and the legs. In fact, back when I was learning traditional kung-fu, the instructor would have me practice my stances and footwork for months before I even began to learn forms and techniques. Spending countless hours in a horse stance and other stances helped build the leg strength and stamina I required to execute the techniques efficiently. Without leg strength, my upper body strikes would have no power behind them no matter how strong my upper body muscles were. In kung-fu, the legs are the foundation of a powerful body.

Ask anybody who can bench 500 pounds, and they will tell you that leg drive is a huge factor in successful pressing. The kinetic force generated from the legs transfers to the upper body, resulting in a stronger press. This applies to most weightlifting movements.

As strength coach Mark Rippetoe puts it:

“There is simply no other exercise, and certainly no machine, that provides the level of central nervous activity, improved balance and coordination, skeletal loading and bone density enhancement, muscular stimulation and growth, connective tissue stress and strength, psychological demand and toughness, and overall systemic conditioning than the correctly performed full squat.” – Mark Rippetoe

If you are fortunate enough to have functioning legs, go squat!

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