Here We Go Again
Here in Boston, two of the more popular magazines – Boston Magazine and the Improper Bostonian – release their “Best Of” issues this time every year which highlight the best night clubs, restaurants, entertainment, spas, pubs, sports bars, and heath clubs the city (and the surrounding areas) has to offer.
What’s more, each of those categories are divided into sub-categories such as best French, Italian, Japanese cuisine for restaurants, or Best Club for Singles when discussing the night scene, or even Best Beer Selection, which, as you can imagine, is kind of a big deal considering all the drunk Red Sox fans that need a place to be, you know, drunk Red Sox fans.
Coincidentally, the other day someone sent me a link to an article written by a local trainer titled Just Say NO!!. In it, she basically goes on a tirade on why women should avoid squats like the plague, essentially comparing them to a creepy guy in the elevator. Probably the worst analogy ever, but whatever. Here’s a Cliff Notes version:
…your safety is your #1 priority, and definitely DO NOT be persuaded by advice from magazines and uninformed trainers to do squats that WE ALL KNOW make your thighs huge!
This exercise over-develops the outer part of your quadriceps, and possibly will lead to an imbalance in your knees, and even worse – flabby inner thighs.
I’m not going to call out this trainer directly, but I will say that she was voted one of the top trainers in Boston by one of the aforementioned magazines named above for 2010. True story.
Where to start?
- First off, when I think of things that people should say “NO!” to, I think of things like sticking their fingers in an electrical socket and tickets to a Coldplay concert. Or, I don’t know, crack. Not squats.
- Squats in of themselves don’t make your thighs huge – being fat does. Much of the “bulk” that women notice is the couple hundred layers of fat they have covering their muscles. Furthermore, while pound for pound, muscle weighs the same as fat, muscle takes up 25% less space. If anything having a little more muscle will give the appearance of being skinnier.
- While I’ll agree that the last thing you want is for a woman to feel like it’s getting harder to put on her favorite pair of jeans – which do you think is going to be the culprit: a few sets of heav(ier) squats per week, or the endless repetitions of lunges, bodyweight squats, leg presses, leg extensions, etc that most women perform every week? 24 reps vs. 12,965? Do the math.
- It boggles my mind that she’s calling out “uninformed trainers,” but she’s insinuating that doing some squats here and there is just going to magically pack on muscle mass. Maybe I missed the memo, but I’d really love to know where this gene exists that allows women to develop thighs the size of Kansas in a matter of weeks. This is akin to me saying, “you know what, I don’t want to win the gold medal in the 100m dash next week, so I’m not going to sprint today.” It’s just not going to happen.
- Squats = flabby inner thighs? Huh, that’s a new one. I’d argue that squats, done correctly, would help to firm up the inner thighs. Look at this picture for example
Is it any wonder why a great majority of women notice bigger thighs when they squat? Notice the anterior weight shift forward? This will undoubtedly place more emphasis on the quads (not to mention make my eyes bleed). Conversely, with a box squat, we can place more emphasis on the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes) and we see good things happen.
All in all, it just dumbfounds me that other fitness professionals continue to perpetuate this notion that squats are somehow dangerous without any real basis or rationale. Moreover, isn’t it about time we get rid of this belief that women are these soft, delicate flowers that shouldn’t lift appreciable weight? Please. I swear to god, if Amelia Earhart were still alive, she’d throw up a little bit in her mouth.