Squatting is a huge part of what we do daily at CrossFit Crusade. In fact, 3 out of the 9 foundational movements in CrossFit are squats! Squatting is a fundamental human movement pattern essential to master at any age. While some may believe that age is a barrier to certain physical activities, we CrossFitters know that being fit and doing functional movements like squats are the key to unlocking lifelong fitness. In this blog, we will look at the benefits of squatting as you age and hopefully convince you to keep doing thrusters when you’re 80!

Muscle, Joint, Bone, and Hormone Health

Squatting is a compound exercise that engages multiple muscle groups: the quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and core. As we age, we lose muscle mass, a condition known as sarcopenia. Squatting helps to fight this natural decline by stimulating muscle growth, making it easier to function.

It is a common misconception that squatting in old age harms your joints. However, when performed with proper technique and control, squatting promotes joint health, and the controlled movement helps to lubricate the knee and hip joints, which reduces stiffness and promotes flexibility. The longer you can do the full range of motion, the better. The goal would be never to lose your entire range of motion and to get up and down freely for the rest of your life.

Doing weight-bearing exercises like squats can also help increase bone density. This is especially important to us as we age because we are more susceptible to fractures and osteoporosis as density declines. Regular squatting, especially with added resistance, will strengthen bones and reduce the risk of bone-related issues. On another level, resistance exercises like squatting and deadlifting have been shown to stimulate the release of growth hormone and testosterone, which play crucial roles in muscle prevention and overall vitality. These hormones are not just exclusive to younger athletes; they also apply to the aging population.

Function Over Everything

Squatting is a functional movement, which means it mimics other movements we do daily. Getting down to snuggle your dog, getting up off the toilet, and picking up a box in the garage are all versions of a squat. As we age, we need these skills more and more because they will continue to keep us independent. Balance and coordination are part of the 10 General Physical Skills and become of utmost importance in an aging population. Supporting your weight and squat efficiently prevents falls and enhances mobility.

After all that being said, here’s where I’ll make my case for thrusters when you’re 80. Of all of our movements in CrossFit, the thruster has so much utility! It improves strength, power, flexibility, balance, and coordination. All of which becomes important as we age. Now, I’m not telling you to give your grandma a 65-pound barbell and have a go at it. Still, the enhanced muscle growth, healthier joints, and increased bone density that come with training functional movements like squats, even with just body weight, will help her tremendously.

If you’re not squatting in your daily fitness routine and want to begin, start with the air squat. Focus on your technique and try to get coaching if you can! Drop by a Fundamentals class at CrossFit Crusade to dedicate one hour weekly to your squat. After perfecting the air squat, you can add weight and learn other fun squatting movements.