I have been training for over 30 years, and throughout that time, I have come to realize the importance of warming up before any workout. As I have gotten older, I have found that a thorough warm-up is crucial for preparing the muscles, joints, and nervous system for the upcoming physical activity. It also helps to focus the mind on the task at hand. Therefore, I dedicate as much effort to planning my clients’ warm-ups as I do to their actual training sessions. It is essential to ensure that they get the most out of every workout. After all, a good workout starts with a great warm-up!
There are various ways to warm up, but it is crucial to tailor the warm-up to the specific demands of the workout. Whether it is cardio, strength training, upper body exercises, or leg training, the warm-up should be specific to the activity. A one-size-fits-all approach is not suitable during this phase. For leg day, one of my go-to warm-up exercises is the gorilla squat. It is particularly beneficial when barbell squats or deadlifts are on the agenda. In this article, I will explain how and why to do gorilla squats, as well as provide some tips and alternatives.
When it comes to exercise safety and effectiveness, proper form is of utmost importance. Using correct form minimizes the risk of injury and maximizes the efficiency of the exercise. On the other hand, sloppy form can lead to injuries and reduce the effectiveness of the workout. Therefore, it is crucial to follow these step-by-step instructions when performing gorilla squats:
1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly out.
2. Pull your shoulders back and down, and engage your core.
3. Soften your knees slightly, hinge forward from the hips, and bend over to grab your toes. Keep your arms straight.
4. Bend your legs and use your arms to pull yourself down into a deep squat.
5. Push your knees apart with your elbows and lift your chest. Hold this position for 2-3 seconds.
6. While keeping hold of your toes, extend your legs and push your hips up until your knees are almost straight. Hold this position for 2-3 seconds.
7. Bend your legs, lower your hips, and repeat the movement.
The gorilla squat is a compound lower-body exercise that engages multiple muscles and joints. The main muscles worked during gorilla squats include the hamstrings, gluteus maximus, quadriceps, gastrocnemius and soleus, adductors, erector spinae, trapezius, and rhomboids. However, it is important to note that while these muscles generate force during the exercise, gorilla squats primarily serve as a lower body mobilizer rather than a leg builder or strengthener.
To get the most out of gorilla squats, here are some tried-and-tested tips from professional trainers:
1. Use a slow and controlled tempo. Avoid stretching your muscles too quickly, as it can cause them to tighten rather than relax.
2. Increase your range of motion gradually throughout your set. Initially, the movement may feel awkward, but as you warm up, you should be able to take your muscles and joints through a wider range of motion, making the exercise smoother.
3. Pause for longer at the bottom and top of each rep if necessary. If you feel tightness in your hips, spend a few extra seconds at the bottom of each rep to open them up. Similarly, if your hamstrings feel tight, stay in the top position for a little longer.
4. Modify the exercise according to your body’s needs and flexibility. Do not force yourself into uncomfortable positions. Use the largest range of motion that feels natural to you.
To ensure the safety and effectiveness of gorilla squats, it is important to avoid these common mistakes:
1. Avoid performing the exercise too quickly. Dropping quickly and bouncing back up negates the benefits of the exercise and increases the risk of injury.
2. Be mindful of excessive lower back rounding. While some rounding is normal during gorilla squats, it should not be excessive. If your lower back bends excessively, reduce your range of motion or grip your ankles instead of your toes.
3. Do not perform too many reps. Gorilla squats are not intended for conditioning purposes. They are meant to mobilize and stretch the lower body. Avoid doing so many reps that your legs start to feel tired. If your quadriceps start to burn, you have done too much.
Now, let’s consider the benefits of incorporating gorilla squats into your workouts:
1. No equipment required: Gorilla squats are a bodyweight exercise, which means you can perform them without any equipment. They are suitable for gym-based training as well as bodyweight or calisthenics workouts.
2. Suitable for all fitness levels: Gorilla squats are a straightforward exercise that is easy to learn. Therefore, they are suitable for individuals of all fitness levels. Adjust the range of motion according to your flexibility and mobility. Do not force the movement, as it may lead to injuries.
3. The perfect warm-up for lower-body workouts: While activities like biking or jogging raise your core temperature, they may not be the most effective warm-up for strength training. To prepare your muscles and joints for lifting, your warm-up should mimic the movements you plan to do during your workout. Gorilla squats are an excellent warm-up exercise for lower-body workouts.
In conclusion, warming up before a workout is crucial for maximizing performance and minimizing the risk of injuries. The gorilla squat is a beneficial warm-up exercise for leg day, especially when barbell squats or deadlifts are on the agenda. By following proper form and incorporating the tips provided, you can make the most out of gorilla squats. They offer numerous benefits, including being equipment-free and suitable for individuals of all fitness levels. Consider adding gorilla squats to your warm-up routine for lower-body workouts and experience the difference it makes in your training.