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5 Muscles That Are Used for Squats

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Our Summary and Answer:

 

Squats are a weight-bearing exercise that will contribute to stronger muscle in the front thigh, hamstrings, quadriceps femoris, erector spinae, hamstrings, and calves. Squats are a great exercise to add to your workout routine. They will strengthen the muscles in your front thigh, hamstrings, quadriceps femoris, erector spinae, hamstring, and calves while helping you develop better posture and control over your body.

 

If you want to build a strong, powerful lower body, then squats are an exercise you should do regularly. Squats are fantastic for building muscle, strengthening joints and bones, boosting the metabolism, improving posture, and providing an efficient way to condition your cardiovascular system.

 

Even though they seem simple enough, there is more to squats than meets the eye! Here we will break down five muscles that are used for squats!

 

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What Are Squats?

A squat is a compound, full-body exercise that involves the use of multiple joints and muscle groups. To perform a squat, you need to begin in an upright position with feet about shoulder-width apart. You then push your hips back and lower yourself down into a squatting position, keeping the weight on your heels.

Once you reach a 90-degree angle with your knees over your ankles, use the force of hip extension to drive up through your heels and return to an upright standing position.

 

A squat is broken down into two phases: the eccentric phase and the concentric phase. The terms “eccentric” and “concentric” refer to the downward (lowering) or upward movement of weight, respectively.

 

Muscles That Are Used for Squats Eccentric Phase

Now that you know the basics of a squat let’s talk about the muscles used during each phase. The first thing to understand is that your body acts as one unit during the movement. Thus, all exercises engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, which makes isolation exercises virtually impossible.

 

While it may be impossible to isolate individual muscles when performing squats, most people find that the following muscles are used most often when performing squats:

 

#1 - Gluteus Maximus

The gluteus maximus is the largest and most superficial of your three gluteal muscles. It makes up a large portion of the shape and appearance of your buttocks.

 

As one of the strongest hip extensors, it plays a vital role in nearly all activities that involve speed or power output from behind you – such as jumping, running, or throwing.

In addition to the gluteus maximus, the other two gluteal muscles – gluteus medius and minimus – work together to provide abduction (moving the leg away from the body’s midline), lateral rotation (twisting) movement, and stabilization for your hips. Studies show that the gluteus medius and minimus are more active during single-leg exercises like squats than in multi-joint leg exercises.

 

#2 - Thigh Muscles

Your thigh muscles are made up of the quadriceps femoris, which make up a large portion of the front thigh, and the hamstrings in your posterior thighs. These muscles, along with the gluteus maximus, are primarily responsible for extending your hip and knee joints to perform squats.

The quadriceps femoris is the only muscle group in your body that crosses over both the hip and knee joints. They work as a team to perform extension at the hip joint when you stand from a seated position and bend the knee joint when you complete a squat.

 

Doing squats regularly will give your thighs, especially the quadriceps femoris, an incredible muscular boost.

 

#3 - Erector Spinae

The erector spinae (also known as the spinal erectors) is a group of muscles and associated tendons extending along either side of your spine. They work together to move, flex, rotate and stabilize your trunk – particularly when you bend over at the waist or lift something heavy with straight arms.

 

The erector spinae are also an essential stabilizing muscle during squats. They help control your posture, particularly when you do deep squats or perform other movements that place a large amount of stress on the spine. Additionally, these muscles play a vital role in several sports because strong trunk musculature is necessary to withstand impact forces and transfer power from your lower body to your upper body.

 

When doing squats, you use your erector spinae muscles to support the weight of your upper body. This will strengthen your core muscles and prevent injury.

 

#4 - Hamstrings

The hamstring muscles are in the back of your thigh, and they work together to perform knee flexion (bending) when you stand up or sit down. They also assist with hip extension along with the gluteus maximus during squats.

 

One key difference between squats performed using a barbell versus those performed using body weight is that the barbell squat will place more stress on your hamstrings than the bodyweight version of this exercise.

 

When you perform a bodyweight squat, your knees are bent, which means that less work needs to be done by your hamstring muscles than a barbell variation where both knee and hip extension co-occurs. However, using either form of squatting will still place a lot of stress on your hamstring muscles if you perform these movements with optimal form.

 

To make sure that your hamstrings don’t become overworked and prevent injuries, try doing squats at the end of your leg workout. This way, other muscle groups like those in your legs and hips can rest before working out your hamstrings.

 

#5 - Calves

The calf muscles in your lower legs are called the gastrocnemius and soleus. These two muscles work together to perform plantar flexion, which is when you stand on your tiptoes. Squats will help you develop stronger calf muscles because they are a form of weight-bearing exercise.

 

Like your hamstrings, the calves will usually take less beating when you do squats using bodyweight compared to barbell exercises where knee and hip extension co-occur. However, even if you use only one type for this movement in your training routine, you will still strengthen the calves when doing squats.

 

Generally, squat variations that require you to hold onto something or that allow your heels to lift off the ground are more difficult for your calves because they place them under a tremendous amount of strain. So, if squats aren’t an already established part of your workout routine, don’t be surprised if it takes some time before these muscles adapt and become stronger.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What muscles do squats work the most?

The muscles used for squats include your quadriceps femoris, erector spinae, hamstrings, and calves. These muscles are used to perform squats and strengthen the muscles in your legs, back, hips, and feet.

 

What Are the benefits of doing squats?

There are many benefits to doing squats, including strengthening your core muscles, increasing muscle mass and bone strength, boosting athletic performance in sports like football or soccer, toning your legs and buttocks, helping you lose weight more effectively by burning calories at a faster rate than other exercises. All these benefits are achieved because squats work several different muscles in your body.

 

What are the disadvantages of squats?

There are several disadvantages of squats, including the risk of injury if done with poor form, lack of motivation due to being demanding or time-consuming compared to other exercises, and not performing them because you don’t have access to specific equipment. However, all these disadvantages can be eliminated by training smartly and safely without sacrificing your results!

 

Final Thoughts

With information about the muscles used for squats, you can better understand how to squat correctly. The bottom line is this, don’t neglect your lower body with all those arm exercises and leg extensions!

 

Squats will help tone your glutes, strengthen your hamstrings and quadriceps, improve balance, in addition to so many other benefits. We hope this article has helped you learn more about the muscles that are used for squats.

 

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