The squat is one of the most fundamental lower body exercises out there. Some variation of the exercise should be used as a staple in any leg workout. In this article I will explain a couple of different variations you can include in your workouts Let’s get into it!
First things first, let’s talk about form. Here are some key points you need to remember when performing a squat
- Weight on your heels
- Head up
- Stick your butt out
- Keep a flat back (don’t lean over too far)
- Don’t let your knees cave in
These are some basic things to remember but are very important to reduce risk of injury.
Barbell Back Squat:
The barbell back squat is the most common variation of the squat you will see at the gym. Oddly enough it is actually one of my least favorite forms of the squat for a variety of reasons (I will get into my favorite below). With this exercise you place a barbell across your upper back. If the barbell hurts you can put a pad to alleviate the pain.
With the barbell across your upper back, perform a squat down to parallel or lower and then pop back up. Try to control the lowering phase and then explode from the bottom.
Front squats are probably my favorite variation. They hit the legs a lot better and are all around a better exercise in my opinion. Instead of the barbell being across your back, place it across the front of your shoulders and chest. You can choose to cross your arms in front of your body and try to balance the bar or if you are flexible enough bring your hands under the bar. Some people choose to use straps if available.
You will then perform the same exact movement as the barbell back squat.
Hack squats are a great quad builder but your gym will need the machine. Most hack squats have you place the pads on your shoulders/traps and load the weight to a sled.
You can perform a squat holding a single kettlebell between your legs, two kettlebells on either side of your legs or in a front squat position with the kettlebells resting on your shoulders. They are a fun way to switch it up from the typical barbell workouts.
Body Weight Squats:
These are the same thing as a back squat without the weight. These are great to do for an outdoor workout or if you are on vacation somewhere without a gym.
Single Leg Squats:
These are also called pistol squats and are an advanced movement. You perform a squat (usually body weight) with just 1 leg.
I usually recommend these to be done un-weighted or holding dumbells at your sides. Perform a regular squat but instead of standing up, you explode from the bottom and jump in the air. When you land absorb the weight and go right into the next rep. It should be a fluid motion.
These are just a couple of the different squat variation out there. If you do some searching around you will find many more. As with all exercises, be aware of your form and don’t over do it!
About the Author:
Nathan Robinson is an ACSM certified personal trainer and holds a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. He runs an online personal training company called Elev8 OPT where he helps people reach their fitness goals.