The History Of The Squat

by Adam Smith

Ready for the most badass history lesson you’ve ever had? Learn about the most powerful of all muscle-building exercises from the legends who introduced it to the gym long ago! People call the squat the “king of exercises.” But it’s more than that. It’s the first exercise you ever did—and nobody even taught you how. You invented it—we all did—deep in our early childhood, the first time we needed to pick up a toy off the ground. Back then, we didn’t know the movement even had a name, but we knew we could rest comfortably in it for minutes on end.

Some of us stop squatting as we grow up. In some cultures, it remains the default rest position, and you’ll see people casually squatting as they wait on street corners and train platforms. But others take the squat dead seriously, putting immense loads on their backs. They squat to break records, or to build superhuman legs. At its best, the motion is the same as when you were a child. You sit down; you stand back up.

As an exercise, the weighted squat has its own unique history which predates bodybuilding, powerlifting, and even Olympic weightlifting. Its roots stretch back to the days when weight training was the domain of professional strongmen, who performed incredible feats of strength in front of wide-eyed audiences.

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