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8 Reasons Why Squatting Is Better Than Running

8 Reasons Why Squatting Is Better Than Running

Squatting is largely neglected in modern society — dudes skipping leg day, women wasting away on the elliptical. Especially when it comes to weight loss, there are too many people out there skipping the resistance training portion of exercise and focusing solely on cardio.

Here are 8 reasons why you should hit the squat rack every once in a while instead of running for every workout.

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1. Squatting isn’t a huge time commitment.

Running is all about speed and endurance. Once you get your mile time down to where you want it, all you can do is run further. Eventually, you find yourself easily covering 5, 6, 7, 8 miles. Even for fast runners, that’s a lot of time. A good squat session should only take about 10 minutes.

2. It is lower impact on your joints.

Running is notorious for being one of the highest impact exercises you can impose on your joints. We were built to run barefoot on soft soil, but we live in a paved world of concrete and cement. Running long distances on such hard surfaces really taxes the connective tissue. Ever hear of shin splints? Unless you’re squatting really heavy weight, replacing a run or two with a squat session will save your knees in the long run.

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3. Your body was built to squat.

Our bodies were built to run short to moderate distances, not marathons. Squatting is by far the most neglected fundamental movement your body was born capable of performing. Look at a baby — babies can squat ass to grass no problem. Think back to Adam and Eve. Do you think they pooped on toilets? We were meant to squat all the way down and do our business on the ground. The constant sitting we do at our desks and on the toilet have made us immobile as a species, and it needs to be combated with squats.

4. Squatting activates more muscles.

Running is a great exercise for your heart and calves. It hits several more areas, but the stimulus is small. Squatting activates your quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, adductors, abdominals, and lower back. Resistance training in general creates a larger muscle stimulus than running and the more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns at rest. This means you can eat more without gaining weight. If that doesn’t motivate you to squat, I don’t know what will. Speaking of eating more…

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5. People who squat can eat more carbs.

Running is an aerobic exercise, so it burns fat as fuel. Squats are primarily an anaerobic exercise. This means that its primary energy source is glycogen, which is your body’s method of storing carbs. If you squat, your body burns the glycogen in your muscles. If your muscles are glycogen-depleted, you can only refill them by consuming carbs. Now get this: they won’t be stored as fat. Instead they’ll go straight to replenishing your muscles (given you eat a reasonable amount). Next time you eat a donut or four after leg day, don’t beat yourself up over it. You’re making booty gains.

6. Squatting builds your booty more.

Distance runners tend to have flat booty syndrome if all they do is run. Sprinters? They utilize their glutes a whole lot  their entire legs in fact. They’re a different story. Squatters tend to build large, round glutes due to the hip-hinge-dominant nature of the movement. Would you rather have a flat butt or a squat butt?

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7. Squat waists look thinner than runner waists.

In addition to the extra calorie burn induced by having a little more booty muscle, having a larger booty will cause your waist to appear thinner. This gives women that hourglass figure and men that extra asset women actually love.

8. It will give you abs.

Squatting is a compound movement and one of the muscles it hits hard is your abs. Many people have no idea this is the case. Think about it: your torso is pitched forward with a barbell on your shoulders. What’s keep you from folding and falling flat on your face? Your core. There are many bodybuilders out there with chiseled sets of abs who never work them directly. They’ve found it’s a better use of their time to do heavy squats and deadlifts and their abs are doing just swimmingly.

I’m not saying I hate running. In fact, I enjoy running a good mile or two and I suggest most people do so as well on occasion. There are just too many people out there on treadmills and not enough in the squat rack.

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Drew Kocak

Online Personal Trainer / Fitness Blogger

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Published on October 11, 2018

7 Killer Upper Back Stretches to Reduce Pain and Boost Endurance

7 Killer Upper Back Stretches to Reduce Pain and Boost Endurance

Building and maintaining a strong upper back depends not only on strength-training, but stretching and nutrition as well. Stretching the upper back muscles, along with a healthy diet can help alleviate pain while improving endurance.

Did you know that stretching your upper back builds endurance for sports, your job – which may require heavy lifting – and simple, everyday activities? Many people who exercise don’t recognize the importance of having a strong upper back, and often neglect this part of the body, focusing more on the lower back where injuries are more prone to occur.

Upper back endurance is necessary for runners, hikers, golfers, tennis players, bowlers, cyclists; the list goes on and on. If saving time is important to you, you want to reduce chronic back pain, boost your energy levels, or you simply need ways to get through a day at the office while confined to a computer, you’ll begin to understand why the following upper back stretches and exercises are necessary.

Here are seven stretches, combined with exercises, to help you maintain a strong upper back:

1. Lat Pull-Downs

By contracting and lengthening your latissimus dorsi muscles, trapezius, deltoids, rhomboids, teres major, along with the other muscles groups in and around your upper back, you are building muscle endurance and increasing mobility.

Seated at a lat pull-down machine, select a weight stack that is comfortable. Remember, you’re not preparing for a bodybuilding competition, you just want to exercise the back, so heavy weight is unnecessary.

Grab the wide bar above your head, palms down, and using a wide grip, pull the bar down to your chest and contract your upper back muscles.

Keep your head up, looking at the bar. This also helps keep your spine straight and provides a clearance so that the bar doesn’t hit your face. Slowly return the bar to the top and repeat for 15 reps. Do three to four sets.

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Here’s the correct technique by Denice Moberg:

2. Indoor Rowing

If upright exercises like walking on the treadmill or running outdoors bore you, you can strengthen your core using a rowing machine. Not only will you chisel your back, but the elongation of the upper back during the stroke motion creates a good stretch.

First, select a tension that is challenging but not a struggle. Make sure that your feet are securely placed in the machine’s foot straps, nice and tight to prevent the feet from moving while rowing.

Next, slide yourself in the rowing saddle forward toward the row bar and pull the bar toward the mid-section of your trunk area, which is the finish. Pulling the bar, bring your elbows beyond your back while contracting your upper muscles and rear shoulders.

Your back should be straight with a slight angle of around 100 degrees. Do not hunch.

During the catch, your legs should be at a 90 degree angle while locking out your arms completely. As a stretching exercise, repeat this motion for five minutes.

Here’s how you can do it:

3. Side Plank Rotation

If you’re short on time, floor exercises such as planks strengthen your core and can be done at home or during your lunch break at work. They can be done in 30 to 60 second increments.

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There are a few plank variations:

The low-position forearm plank in which your body weight is supported by your elbows; the straight-arm plank, which is a high-position plank; side plank in which your body is turned to one side and supported by one straightened arm; the stability-ball plank which is more challenging for your trunk; and the plank that gives you a good stretch is the side plank rotation.

To begin the side plank rotation, begin in the high plank position. Slowly turn your body to one side while stacking one foot on top of the other. Extend the opposite arm toward the ceiling and as you lower your arm, reaching underneath your body and rotating your trunk.

Done properly, you will feel the stretch along your rhomboids and shoulders. Repeat the rotation – reaching and tucking – 10 times. Switch sides.

Here’s a Side Plank Rotation demonstrated by Train Aggressive:

4. Yoga Stretches

A good way to incorporate breathing with stretching and gain flexibility in your core is Kundalini yoga – an intense yoga practice – gets your blood flowing and works wonders for the spine and posture.

The “Cat-Cow” pose is a great upper back warm-up, and when combined with the “Breath Of Fire”[1] or “fast breathing,” energy is sent through the entire body which stimulates the flow of cell activity and increases lung capacity.

On all fours, arms straight and directly below your shoulders, and knees directly below your hips, hunch your back, inhaling as you tuck your head into your chest, then exhale while arching your back and raise your head toward to sky.

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The rapid inhaling and exhaling in this exercise is known as the “Breath Of Fire,” as mentioned above. Increase the pace of both the “Cat-Cow” and “Breath Of Fire” and repeat this movement for up to five minutes.

This is how to do a Cat-Cow pose for energy:

5. Side Bends

This is a simple stretch to elongate the space between your ribs and increase range of motion, which helps achieve flexibility in the abdominals, spine, and lateral core.

Seated or standing with your back straight, raise your arms above your head and firmly hold your wrist. Gently pull your trunk to one side and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. When finished, repeat on opposite side.

Note: If standing, keep your feet shoulder width apart, if seated keep your feet flat on the floor.

Let’s take a look at how to do a standing side bend:

6. Pole Stretch

By creating opposing force and pulling on a stationary object, you are stretching your lats. The upper sides of your back. Here, you are performing a static stretch which is a stretch held beyond its normal range.

Find a pole, mounted gym apparatus, or other floor-affixed object and, while standing, pull on the object with slightly bent knees and back flat at a 45-degree angle.

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Continue to pull while extending your arms, feeling the stretch in your lats and rhomboid muscles. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat if needed.

7. Shoulder Blade Stretch

The shoulder blades are connected to the rhomboid muscles in the upper back. Sudden, quick movements like pulling a heavy object or even tossing a near-weightless object overhead, like a tennis ball during a serve, can strain the unstretched muscles between your shoulder blades, causing spasms.

Here’s how to avoid muscle strain:

Standing tall with feet shoulder width apart, gently pull your elbow across your chest, just beneath your chin, and hold for 15 seconds. If you do not feel immediate relief, try lowering or raising the elbow and perform the stretch again. Different angles can make a big difference.

There you have it – Seven upper back stretches and exercises to reduce pain and improve endurance. But while upper back stretches are important, a diet rich in antioxidants is equally key.

Bonus Tip: Getting a Diet Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants, also known as “Super Foods,” prevent the build up of free radicals in your body and control oxidative stress. These free radicals are toxins that get in the way of endurance, flexibility, and cause inflammation, among other fitness obstacles.

How do you incorporate antioxidants into your diet? Here are some common foods and beverages rich in antioxidants:

A good combination of quick and easy targeted cardiovascular exercises, static stretches, range-of-motion stretches, and yoga poses can increase upper back endurance and boost your energy levels, making your activities – both sedentary and active – manageable and fun.

Once you begin to incorporate these methods of relief into your routine, you will begin to walk taller, run farther, and hike longer!

Featured photo credit: Geert Pieters via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Yogapedia: Breath of Fire

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