Monday, February 2, 2015

Why Squat? The Benefits of Training your Legs pt.1

Why squat? Klokov squats and you want to be sexy just like him.
The first challenge of this website is to do some sort of weighted squats for 30-days. If you are a real man or woman then this is being done under the weight of a barbell somewhere. However this is not necessary. We are already into the third day of the challenge and there are about 29 more to go.

If you are feeling the suck you may be asking yourself, "why am I doing this madness?" This article helps to serve that purpose. Notably, this article will be about the benefits of squatting with a barbell in the most general sense. There are tons of permutations on the classic exercise and they all hold unique advantages. However, for the sake of simplicity this article will be about the barbell back and front squats.

So why squat?

Well to begin with lets talk about the advantage it plays on hormones. Especially those muscle building hormones that people drive all the way to Mexico to get illegally. I'm talking about growth hormone and testosterone.

Squats versus other popular leg exercises yield more production of these two particular hormones. In a study conducted by the University of North Texas it was found to be superior to the leg press (more like the wuss  press) in terms of growth hormone production. Despite being able to handle heavier weights on the leg press the squat has more advantage because of the added resistance of your own body weight and the greater amounts of coordination required.

From Ergo-Log:
When the researchers calculated the amount of effort the men had expended during the two sessions, they discovered why the concentrations of growth hormone and testosterone were higher after the squat session. Although the men used more weight on the leg-press machine their exertion was 42 percent higher during the squat session.

 That's because the men also had to work against their own bodyweight during the squats, and because the range of movement is greater during a squat than when using the leg press.
That is pretty cool but why would you want higher growth hormone and testosterone? Well to begin we will look at testosterone which is a principal hormone for men which contributes to muscle, bone and reproductive growth in people. Males tend to have more of this hormone and typically when people talk about using anabolic steroids they are using supplemental forms of testosterone like testosterone propinate.
Contrary to popular belief high testosterone will not make you want to kill your family
 Test is good for other things as well besides building muscle it is important for both brain health, sex drives in both males and females and a myriad of other things. No one makes a better case for testosterone then John Romano who writes for all sorts of bodybuilding websites. You can try looking at T-nation for his stuff or simply watch the documentary "Bigger, Stronger, Faster" which he is interviewed on.

From Wikipedia:

Testosterone can be used by an athlete in order to improve performance, but it is considered to be a form of doping in most sports. There are several application methods for testosterone, including intramuscular injections, transdermal gels and patches, and implantable pellets. Supplement of the hormone results in lower metabolic production via the Farquharson phenomenon, creating long-term dependence for improved performance level.[citation needed]

Anabolic steroids (including testosterone) have also been taken to enhance muscle development, strength, or endurance. They do so directly by increasing the muscles' protein synthesis. As a result, muscle fibers become larger and repair faster than the average person's.
 Now I myself am a clean athlete, but it is still important to get an understanding as to why people take this stuff. With squats you are boosting this hormone naturally. 

Test gets a lot of the attention when it comes to athletics but you probably wouldn't want to forget about its step-brother growth hormone (not a literal step-brother). I've recently read that testosterone plays a bigger role in muscular development in males and GH more of a role in females. That being said that doesn't mean that one is more important than the other. Thankfully, squats help to stimulate both.

From Bayesian Bodybuilding:
Within an individual, more testosterone means more muscle mass. There is little doubt about that. Between genders, however, the relation becomes much weaker. In their study of elite athletes, Healy et al. concluded that “The difference in lean body mass is sufficient to account for the observed differences in strength and aerobic performance seen between the sexes without the need to hypothesize that performance is in any way determined by the differences in testosterone levels.”

How can this be? Testosterone functions differently in men and women, as I explained in my BioSignature review. In animals we have a good understanding of why testosterone is not needed for muscle development in women. It seems growth factors like IGF-1 and growth hormone take over the anabolic role that testosterone has in men. Growth factors are more important for strength and muscle mass in women than in men. Since women have just as much IGF-1 as men and women produce ~3 times as much growth hormone as men, this explains in part why having less testosterone does not limit how much muscle they can build. To make matters more complex, the sex hormones and growth factors interact and all these hormones also interact with your genes.

In short, saying women have less potential to build muscle mass because they don’t have as much testosterone as men is shortsighted.
So what is growth hormone and what does it do? 

So growth hormone is another one of these interesting hormones that play a role in developing big strong muscles, brain, promotes lipolysis and does stuff for the immune system as well. Like with test though we aren't so much focused on the non-performance based benefits of GH. These are things we can further elaborate in other articles pertaining to other topics surrounding the benefits of squatting.

But for a rundown, from Wikipedia:
So for more of a rundown why guys like bodybuilders and other maniac sports people (I think they are called athletes) we can turn to Wikipedia again.

A Stanford University School of Medicine meta-analysis of clinical studies on the subject published in early 2007 showed that the application of GH on healthy elderly patients increased muscle by about 2 kg and decreased body fat by the same amount.[44] However, these were the only positive effects from taking GH. No other critical factors were affected, such as bone density, cholesterol levels, lipid measurements, maximal oxygen consumption, or any other factor that would indicate increased fitness.[44] Researchers also did not discover any gain in muscle strength, which led them to believe that GH merely let the body store more water in the muscles rather than increase muscle growth. This would explain the increase in lean body mass.
Now reading that it would seem that GH is a little underwhelming. However, I think that there is probably more to the story. Putting are thinking caps to work here although GH might not be as big a promoter in strength increased muscle size and volume will increase to strength to a certain degree. Think geometry and ranges of motion. Bigger muscle means less distance the weight will have to travel.
considering how old Sly is I have to imagine the GH is doing something.

Now to be fair it is dangerous to use hormones except maybe melatonin. I'm not advocating taking anything illegal here.  If you were to look at me I wouldn't look like Tom Platz. I'm just a guy who likes to train. It isn't however going to be that dangerous if you simply do things to naturally boost these hormones like exercise, sleep and eating a healthy nutritious diet.

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