Which muscles do squats work? Stylist Strong trainers answer the most googled health and fitness questions.
Whether it’s heavy, loaded barbell squats, a dumbbell goblet squat or body weight versions, squats are probably the most famous resistance exercise that exists. In fact, new data uncovered by Better Gyms shows that they’re the UK’s most googled exercise, closely followed by crunches and planks.
But there’s a reason squats are always at number one. For some people it’s their desire to get in on the big-bum trend, others love squatting for strong, watermelon-busting thigh muscles, and many people also add the move into circuits to help with a healthy heart. But here at Stylist Strong, we don’t just recommend throwing an exercise into your routine because everyone else does. No, we think that understanding why you’re doing it is just as important: education is the best motivation we can have, after all.
Each week, Stylist Strong’s ambassadors answer some of the most asked questions from women who want to get into lifting. This time, they’re breaking down what muscles squats target, and why we should all do them.
WHICH MUSCLES DO SQUATS WORK?
“A lot! It’s a big compound move so it’s working multiple muscle groups. That includes the glutes, the quads, adductors (the muscles on the inside of the leg), the hip flexors and anything that works to stabilise the hips. It’s also amazing for the core.”
“Squats will work a lot of muscles, but mainly your glutes and quads. Changing your foot position, reps and weight can switch up the muscle focus, too.”
DO SQUATS HELP GROW GLUTES?
“One of the main things that people aim to target when squatting is the glutes. But some people can sneak out of hitting the glute muscle and get into quad dominant movement, depending on their style of squatting. Also, not everybody is biomechanically made to squat and it’s really hard for some people. That might mean they move in slightly different ways and the glutes don’t load as much. But when your hip flexes and when your knee comes up towards your chest, your glutes are loading, and that’s what’s happening when you squat. Your thighs are coming closer to parallel so your glutes are loading.”
“Squats will build your glutes, especially if you make it into a sumo squat, which is when you have a wider stance with your feet turned out a little.”
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SQUATTING?
“Because it’s a compound and it’s working multiple muscle groups it’s helping you to build more muscle mass which in turn is going to give you a higher metabolism. It’s also really helping the muscles around the hip, which tend to switch off a lot when you’re at your desk. It’s about helping your body become a bit more functional for your everyday life.”
“They’re a functional exercise and so it’s a movement pattern that our body should be doing. If you think about what babies do, they just sit in a squat the whole time. We were meant to do that. But sitting at desks limits our range so practicing squatting and getting a good, deep squat is really important. It also helps stabilise your pelvis. Think about how the pelvis moves during running, lunging and even walking. It’s really important to have those glutes and adductor muscles. If you don’t, other muscles start to take over and that’s when you start to get runner’s knee or pelvic floor issues.”
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