Squats mainly increase the strength of your legs’ muscles. It also enhances the mass and muscles around your butt, thighs, and calves.
It’s a great exercise that’s famous among women nowadays. A good reason for this is its convenience since it doesn’t need any equipment. However, heavy squats do need equipment since it’s a more harsh and intense exercise.
With all that said, even the easiest form of squats still has its fair share of preparation. Like push-ups, it might look easy to do, but it’s challenging. If you throw yourself immediately and do squats, you might get into some trouble.
Squats can potentially give you unnecessary strains and aches all over your body. You can also do squats and see no results. This is because you should know how to perform its motion correctly. That’s why you need to know what to do before and after squats.
The List Part 1: Before Doing Squats
#1 Know What You’re Getting Into
The first thing that you should do before doing squats is to understand the exercise. There’s a common notion that squats are a good exercise for the butt. Although that’s true, it’s not the entire story.
There’s a lot of body parts involved when it comes to squats. The butt isn’t the only part that will benefit from it. Likewise, it won’t be the only body part that will receive pressure.
Not knowing what this exercise is can be dangerous. After all, squats can injure you as we will further discuss below.
#2 Do A Check Up On Your Body
Squats put a strain on your legs, knees, and your hips, if you want to be safe, I suggest you get a pair of knee sleeves or wraps for squats. So be sure that you don’t have any injury in those parts because it will stress your muscles. If you’re going for heavy squatting, it’s best to consult your doctor.
Heavy squatting is a whole different workout. The reason for this is because your back and shoulders will also be affected. Thus, if you’re not sure of your body profile, getting examined by an orthopedic is a good idea.
Heavy workouts are dangerous for people with back problems such as scoliosis.
#3 Get Mentally Prepared
If you’re about to get yourself into heavy squatting, then mental preparation is also essential. A lot of people tend to get themselves involved with tough workouts only to quit. A good reason for this is they didn’t prepare mentally.
Heavy squatting involves not just you doing squats, but it will also demand you to carry weights at the same time. With that said, try to research on how challenging and painful squats.
After all, it will be challenging; mental toughness is as important as physical endurance.
#4 Find A Good Diet Before Your Squats
Finding a proper diet is another key to get your desired gains. A good diet along with the proper supplementation will feed your muscles and help it grow bigger and stronger.
Not having a good diet will either weaken your strength or block your muscle’s growth through fat.
A good diet would usually comprise of low-fat and low-carbs. Along with this, abundant protein and fiber are good for workouts. Research on what’s the best workout food for you before doing squats.
#5 Perform The Right Warm-Ups
Now that you’re aware that squats will target the specific muscles mentioned, warming up is the next step. Warming up will reduce the pain and stress that could potentially strain your body. Thus, you’ll be able to avoid feeling sore the next day.
Doing warmups will also wake up your joints. Particularly, this is true for your knees and ankles. For a good and basic warm up, you’ll need an exercise that will stretch your joints.
Common exercises for squats include lunges, knee hugs, and knee flexes. There's a lot of pre-warmup routines out there that you could further check out. The main idea here is that you should increase your mobility and flexibility for the best performance.
The List Part 2: After Doing Squats
#1 Assess Your Body.
After doing some full squats, you’re bound to experience DOMS or the delayed onset muscle soreness. For some, it might be right away after the workout. However, for others, it comes a few hours or even 24 hours after the work.
You know squats are effective when they hurt after. However, what parts are supposed to hurt? Now you’ll know you are doing it wrong if the wrong parts hurt.
Most of the times, people who do squats complain about their upper legs or glutes aching. Yes, your upper legs and glutes are supposed to hurt.
If parts other than that start hurting, then you might want to do some research and check if you’re doing it right. Because you might even injure yourself or damage some muscles by doing your squats wrong.
#2 Cool Down Your Muscles.
A lot of people underestimate the importance of cooling down exercises. However, doing the “cool down” can help reduce the possibility of muscle soreness. This is the same concept as not sitting down or stopping suddenly after a long run.
You can cool down by doing light aerobic exercises for a good five minutes. Walking on the treadmill (walk, not run) for a good 5 minutes can help slow down your heart rate.
This can also contribute to keeping blood from pooling in one place in your lower extremities.
Doing yoga poses can like the walking lunge can also count as “cool down” exercise.
#3 Take Lots Of Protein.
It’s crucial that you replenish all the energy you lost after working out. Observe proper diet.Eating a protein packed meal after your workout can help in your muscle growth and development.
Drinking cold water directly right after your workout can also contribute to stabilizing your electrolytes and lower your body temperature.
#4 Deal With The Pain.
You don’t always have to endure pain. Remember, there is always a way out. If the pain is already too much, then that would make your workout more disadvantageous for you. It would beat the purpose of conditioning your body if it would bring you more pain.
Gently massaging your muscles and placing an ice pack (we do a full review on great ice packs here) on your sore muscles can help lessen the soreness and pain. Taking some medicine like Advil or Ibuprofen can also help. But then again, there are times when it’s better not to take medicine.
If you can help it, not taking medicine is a good option if you do not want to become dependent on it (every after workout).
#5 Do Not Take A Break For Too Long.
After you decide to take a break because of muscle pain and soreness, you might be tempted to take a break for too long. Don’t. Taking a break for too long will only render any muscle conditioning you’ve done before useless.
If your muscles become too lax, you will have to start back at square one.
#6 Now, Back To Work.
And when the soreness has already ebbed away, it’s time to start working out again. Working out in moderation and taking moderate breaks in between is good for your body.
This is so your muscles won’t become too lax nor too sore for growth and development. As we all know, straining your muscles too much can only impede regeneration and growth/development.
But then most importantly, working out should be coupled with a healthy diet and good lifestyle. This will keep you ready as ever, always.
#7 Come Out Stronger And Better.
If you feel as if your squat routine is already getting too easy, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Do more variants of the squats. Do more repetitions. The more you challenge yourself, the more visible results you will see.
There is a very fine line that separates abusing your muscles from challenging your muscles. So do not be afraid to venture out into more workout routines.
As long as you do the proper warm ups and cool down, you can avoid muscle strain. And finally, do not forget that even the simplest things such as drinking water and eating right can help keep your muscles from being too sore.
Wrapping Things Up
To put it simply, squats have varying degrees of difficulty. So it’s important to decide what you want to do and what the effects are. Moreover, squats, like any other workout routine, requires a tremendous amount of dedication and preparation.
If you’re planning to do squats in the long-term (which you should), taking note of this list will be beneficial for you. After all, it talks about your health and the expected results of your workout.
Lastly, your workout doesn’t end after your squatting; you’ll need to prepare and plan for your next workout. So with that said, good luck and stay determined! Squats are one of the most beneficial ones out there so always work hard!