Wednesday, January 12, 2011

You don't know squat!

But if you do, you know a lot.  

I promise this is not a fitness blog.  LoL!! I'll keep it brief.

I have learned so much since I started this fitness journey. I've learned about myself, my body, and I've l learned a lot about fitness and nutrition in general.  It was only inevitable that I would also be learning lessons about life.  

Once you've been exercising for any amount of time, you realize you have exercises that you really, really like.  One such exercise for me is the squat.  

It stands to reason that I would really like the squat:  my legs, like most women's legs, are the strongest part of my body.  So while I've always dreaded push-ups (not so much anymore, by the way), I could always look forward to the squat.  In no time, I found myself squatting with 35 lbs. dumbbells in each hand.  My gains in upper body exercises?  Not so substantial.  

Anyway, I've been working out at home for a while now and every DVD that I've ever watched emphasizes these things while squatting:

  • knees should not track over the toes
  • sit back in your hips
  • sit down into the squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor as if you're sitting in a chair
That's really about it.  It's not until I started with NROL4W that I started to look for more information about the squat only because I was no longer using dumbbells (I'm using an olympic bar at the gym).  And I was really surprised.  Really surprised!  

I learned first of all that I could have seriously hurt my knees doing squats the way some of these DVDs instruct!  The first DVD that comes to mind is Jari Love's Get Ripped and Chiseled but also Chalean Extreme.  Not one person in these DVDs (including Love or Johnson) is squatting correctly. 

For a squat to count as a squat, there needs to be some serious depth in the movement. Not as if you're sitting in a chair but as if you're trying to take a dump in a hole in the ground.  That deep.  A squat is not chair pose with weights.  

I've seen videos on You Tube (like the Squat Rx series and An Intro to Squats by Mark Rippetoe) but the article (reading is my way of learning) really drove home the point and helped me really understand what's supposed to be happening when I squat.

I haven't been doing full, correct squats all this time but today in the gym, that was my focus.  I thought I'd probably only be able to squat the bar (45 lbs.) but it turns out that 65 lbs. was a challenge and 70 lbs. is really where I should be.  Thanks to yoga (and my natural inclination to sit on the floor and squat to do close to the floor tasks), it seems I have pretty good mobility in my ankles, hips and hamstrings.  The squatting today felt really, really good . . . and complete in a way that squats never felt before.  I think I love this exercise even more now.  

So, I'm feeling grateful to be learning good form and preserving my joints but I'm feeling a little wary of mass-marketed workout DVDs about weightlifting these days.  Now that I'm learning about the various exercises, I see places where these fitness experts have made mistakes.  I wonder if people could really injure themselves.  I definitely think folks should be more responsible about what they put out when they claim to be an expert.  

This serves as a gentle reminder to always, always, check a second, third and fourth source for information.  Never, ever take what any "expert" says at face value. 

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