There is no other exercise that offers as high a level of muscular recruitment as squats.
I also personally feel that there is no other exercise that brings as much “good pain” in weightlifting than the squat. I can pump out heavy weighted pullups or bench press 1.5 times my weight all day, but when it comes to squats, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t approach the rack with sense of dreading for the next hour.
Today was squat day. Last week, I squatted 210 pounds for 4 sets, and it felt relatively easy and manageable. So instead of increasing the weight my usual 5 lbs/week, I chose to take the harder route and increase it 10 pounds to 220.
Here’s what my workout looked like:
Squats are a necessary evil - if I was limited to just one exercise, it would be the parallel squat. I always feel a great sense of accomplishment when I finish them, and my reward is a nice can of tuna + Club crackers (have to get a 1 gram protein per 1 lb bodyweight :))