Many people are fearful of performing squats due to myths and misinformation they have been given about the dangers and potential injuries. Interestingly enough the squat is the resistance exercise of choice which gives you the most benefit out of a single exercise.
Squatting activities have been proven through research to improve the stability of the knee significantly compared to other exercises. People commonly use the leg press machine to develop the same muscle groups with the belief that their injury risk is lower.
The main disadvantage of the leg press is that there is a lot less loading through the hips compared to the weight bearing requirements of the squat. Hip muscle development is the primary reason why knee stability improves substantially with squat training. In addition, the leg press machine increases blood pressure by up to three times as much as a squat does which can place unwanted stress on the cardiovascular system.
The benefits of squats far exceed just improved knee stability. Studies indicate that performing squatting activities alone can result in an improvement in upper body strength. No isolated upper body exercise has the potential to produce any increases in lower body strength.
Despite what many people think, the squat is the exercise that places the highest demands on the “core” muscles. Unfortunately many people try to “crunch” their way to core stability and injure their neck in the process!
Of course the safety of squatting all comes down to technique. Under proper guidance and supervision, the squat gives you the best overall body benefits.