January 13, 2022 9 min read
The squat is a very functional exercise, which means it trains a movement pattern that you use in everyday life.
You don't need any equipment to do a squat because your bodyweight and gravity will provide all the resistance you need, but you can easily add free weights or resistance bands if you want to make things harder.
This article will outline some of the best squat variations to help you build the levels of strength you have been dreaming of.
The squat is an effective lower-body exercise that works lots of muscle groups at once, such as the glutes and quads in your legs, and even your core muscles. While all squats are considered lower-body exercises, there are many different types of squats that each target slightly different muscle groups.
For example, when your legs are farther apart in a squat, you will be working your inner thighs and glutes a little more than your quads. If a squat variation includes an upper-body movement, like an overhead press, you will be adding some shoulder and arm work. Squat variations that include a plyometric component such as a jump can also be good cardio exercises.
When it comes to adding equipment, squats are versatile.
You can use dumbbells, kettlebells, a barbell, or resistance bands. It really comes down to what you are most comfortable with and maybe even what is available to you in your gym. Squats can be done with heavy loads or training volumes to help produce some impressive overall muscle and strength gains.
To allow your lower back enough time to recover, you should rest for 24 to 48 hours before training the same muscle groups. A good way to add extra bulk and power is by incorporating the Mass Stack into your daily routine. In combination with weightlifting, it can provide the spark your muscle need to grow.
In terms of how low you should squat, there really is no set answer. The depth of your squat will depend on many variables, including your hip and ankle mobility.
Squatting deeper will engage more muscles than squatting to parallel, so your goal should be to squat as deep as you can. If your heels begin to lift off the floor or your torso begins to round forward, that's a good place to stop. Heels coming off the ground is a sign of ankle and hip mobility issues that need to be addressed.
If you can't bring your hips down enough to get your thighs parallel to the floor, then just go as far as you can without straining.
You will still be working your legs and all of your core muscles, and as you get stronger and move through this range of motion more often, you can start squatting lower over time. So if you can lower your body until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor, great. If not, don't force it until you have built up more lower body strength.
It's always better to maintain good form rather than to reach a certain depth.
It's really important when you are squatting to try and bend your torso forward from your hips (called a hip hinge) and push your rear end behind you as you bend your knees and go lower. This puts most of your weight on your heels, which will help take the stress off your knees. If your weight is too far forward, you might feel it in your knees, which you don’t want. You want to feel it in your glutes and quads.
When you hinge forward, keep your core engaged so that your back is flat and does not arch or round forward.
Also, never let your knees cave inward. This applies during both the down and up portion of the squat. If you can, watch yourself in the mirror for a few reps. Your knees should remain in line with the second toe on each of your feet.
If your knees collapse in at all, it is a sign of muscle imbalances somewhere in the chain.
It could be a weak glute medius and weak adductors, or a number of other issues. The key is to focus on continuing to press your feet into the floor and press your knees outward through the entire range of motion. You can address weak glutes in a variety of ways including performing clam shells before you squat.
If you have any trouble with keeping your knees from moving inward, put down the weights and just keep doing body squats until you can control your knees a little more.
Once you can do that, here are 10 squat variations that you can try during your next workout:
In this variation, your legs will be placed wider and your toes will be more turned out, which is a position that works your inner thighs and glutes a bit more than a standard squat.
In terms of the type of exercise, you will find that deadlifts are similar to squats in that they activate your back, your hamstrings, your quadriceps, your glutes, and all of the muscles in your hips. The main difference is that when you deadlift you pull the weight from the ground rather than pressing it with a barbell on your back.
You can work up to doing deadlifts with a stack of heavy weights if you are trying to produce major strength gains through powerlifting.
When you are doing deadlifts, the back muscles do not contribute directly to your range of motion, but they do help keep your spine safe. Take your starting position and follow the steps below to do a deadlift.
Choose three or four exercises and divide your training sets equally. Set it up with an equal number of vertical pulls to horizontal pulls.
The best way to add all of these squats to your routine will probably vary depending on your personal goals. For example, if you would like to add some cardio exercises to an otherwise strength-focused workout, do one of the jumping squat variations in between some of your other moves.
If you mostly want to build strength in your lower body, choose one of the above squats that sounds most interesting to you and try it instead of regular squats. If you want to just work your glutes at the end of your workout, try combining a squat that doesn’t require jumping with one that does. Do up to 15 reps of each type, and then repeat the motion two or three times.
If you plan to do squats regularly, always remember to warm up correctly before and after each workout session. This helps reduce your risk of experiencing back pain or other injuries.
Always include proper warm-ups, a lot of rest, and a good nutrition program in your overall bodybuilding regimen. Your results will always be based on these few variables, and also on how well you can recover from your workouts.