Why You Should Squat Heavy: The Science Behind Squatting

Cressey is a highly respected and highly educated strength and conditioning coach

By the way, on DVD Cressey talks about the threshold for injury to the muscles or the human body

The idea is that strong muscles are less likely to get injured than weak muscles (Well, that makes sense)

Now let’s apply the same knowledge to squats

Imagine in your head two best friends who are relatively the same weight, height and age

Friend X can do 1RM (repetitions-maximum) of 135 pounds

Friend Y can do 1RM from 405 pounds

The logical (and correct) thinking is that Friend Y is less prone to injury

I’m going to spoil the surprise for you and tell you that X eventually developed back pain, knee pain from overuse

Muscles have a certain capacity to do work

Let’s use the biceps as an example

Let’s say your best bicep curl is 100 pounds for 1 RM

If your biceps were doing 5 pound curls every minute for 8 hours, it might last and last

However, what happens if your best bicep curls only weigh 20 pounds for 1 RM

Your poor biceps won’t be able to hold a 5 pound weight every minute for 8 hours

Eventually you can potentially develop tendonitis, DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) or even rhabdomyolysis

Now, let’s replace the biceps with the squat muscles

Squat muscles will include your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, core, etc

If your squat muscles can support and lift the heavier 1RM, your body will naturally be more resistant to injury

Standing and sitting will be an easier task if you have strong squat muscles

Navigating stairs or long walks/hikes won’t be a problem with strong legs/core

The point I want to make and make is that you have to lift the heavy!

Staying in your comfort zone and doing bodyweight squats for high reps isn’t a bad thing

If you are young and capable, I challenge you to find that personal record and try to continue to increase your strengths

There have been many studies and articles written about how muscle loss and weakness is positively correlated with mortality and shorter life span (1-7)

Squats, when done correctly and with good programming, will increase core strength, increase muscle mass/strength/strength, increase your resistance to injury, and increase your life expectancy

When I was in physical therapy school, we learned that walking speed and weakness were directly correlated with how long an elderly person had lived (8)

Think of heavy squats as a necessary nutrient in your life

Take your squat vitamins and don’t be afraid to drop them like hot SQUATs!

Dr Kevin Sonthana, PT, DPT, CSCS

Dr Aaron Horschig, PT, DPT, CSCS, USAW

Newman AB, Kupelian V, Visser M, et al

Strength, but not muscle mass, was associated with mortality in the health, aging and body composition study group

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Association between muscle strength and mortality in men: a prospective cohort study

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Heterogeneity in rates of decline in grip, hip, and knee strength and rates of all-cause mortality: a study of women’s health and aging II

J Am Geriatr Soc 2010 Nov 58 (11): 2076-2084 Goodpaster BH, Park SW, Harris TB, Kritchevsky SB, et al

Loss of skeletal muscle strength, mass, and quality in older adults: a study of health, aging and body composition

Objectively measured levels of physical ability and mortality systematic review and meta-analysis

2010; 341:c4467Rantanen T, Harris T, Leveille SG, Visser M, et al

Muscle strength and body mass index as predictors of long-term mortality in initially healthy men

Journal of Gerontology: Medical Science

Journal of Gerontology: Medical Science

Journal of Gerontology: Medical Science

2000; 55A(3):M168-M173Ruiz JR, Sui X, Lobelo F, Lee DC, et al

Muscle strength and adiposity as predictors of adult cancer mortality in men

Measures of lower body function and risk of death at 7 years of follow-up

American Journal of Epidemiology

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