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January 23, 2023 8 min read

The Kang squat is an exercise style that has made news in the fitness industry for the variety of health benefits it offers. It was named after the South Korean world-class weightlifting coach Shin-ho Kang. Kang squats have become the go-to exercise in CrossFit classes and bodybuilding gyms. Powerlifters and weightlifters use the Kang squat as a support exercise to enhance their performance on other exercises.

In this article, we'll describe the steps to perform Kang Squats with proper form and technique, the muscles activated, and the benefits offered. We'll also include safety tips and suggest other squats to include in your workouts.

What is the Kang Squat?

The Kang Squat is an exercise that involves performing a squat with a pause at the bottom. The pause is held for a few seconds, which encourages maintaining proper form throughout the exercise.

It is a combination of the good morning and a back squat.

It involves lowering first into a good morning, then into full squat position and then transitioning from the squat to back to the good morning before returning to the standing position.

As you can imagine, this exercise should be done with light weight until you master each part of the exercise and feel comfortable going heavier.

Much like the box squat teaches proper bracing, the Kang squat teaches proper stability by breaking each movement into separate components, forcing you to focus on the entirety of the exercise. It is a great exercise to help build strength and stability in the lower body and improves core strength.

Muscles Worked by Kang Squats

Kang Squat Muscles Worked - Image from Shutterstock

The primary muscle groups activated by Kang squats are:

1. Gluteus Maximus

Located in the buttocks, this largest muscle in the body, aka the glutes, extends the hips and stabilizes the trunk during the squat.

2. Quadriceps

Located in the front of the thighs, the four muscles that make up the quads, the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius extend the knees and provide the primary force for the Kang squat.

3. Hamstrings

Located in the back of your thighs, the three hamstring muscles, the biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus flex the knees and help to stabilize the lower body when you do Kang squats.

4. Soleus

Located in the calves, the soleus facilitates the plantar flex of the ankles and provides stability for the squat.

5. Abductors

The abductor muscles, located on the outer sides of your hips and thighs, lift your legs away from the middle of your body. These muscles include the gluteus minimus, gluteus medius, and tensor fascia latae. When performing Kang squats, these muscles are essential in stabilizing the hips and knees, preventing them from inwardly collapsing.

6. Adductors

The adductor muscles, which comprise the longus, brevis, and magnus (longest, shortest, and biggest), are located on the inside of your thighs. During Kang squats, their main purpose is to prevent your knees from splaying outwards and to draw your legs towards the center of your body.

7. Erector spinae

Kang squats involve a lot of bending forward of the torso, which places tension on the lower back muscles that are called the erector spinae. These spinal erectors contract to stop your back from curving as you do the exercise.

8. Core

The muscles of the abdomen, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis, make up the core. They all work together to provide support to the lumbar spine by contracting inward to create intra-abdominal pressure.

How To Do the Kang Squat with Proper Form?

The Kang squat is a weighted squat that must be done using proper form. Follow the detailed steps below to reap the maximum benefits of the Kang squat. It is a combination of the hips-back-chest-down good morning squat, and the hips-down-chest-up back squat.

Starting Position:

  • Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  • Lift a barbell onto your upper back across your shoulders, gripping it with your elbows pointing to the floor.

Part 1: The Good Morning Movement:

  • Engage your core and keep your upper body upright.

  • Hinge your hips and lean your torso forward until your upper body is parallel to the floor.

  • Ensure the barbell is balanced on your shoulders and not resting on your neck.

Part 2: The Back Squat Movement:

  • From the good morning position, slowly drop your hips lower to the ground as you move into a full squat.

  • Hold the back squat for a moment.

Part 3: The Upward Drive:

  • Firmly push through your heels to raise your hips as you return into the hips-back-chest-down good morning pose.

  • Lift your torso without driving your hips forward as you return to the starting position standing upright.

Proper Form

Proper form is vital to avoid injuries when you perform Kang squats. It's important to keep your core tight and your glutes activated throughout the exercise, and not to lock your knees at the top of the movement. Make sure to use a weight that allows you to maintain proper form throughout the entire range of motion.

Moving straight up to the starting position from the back squat instead of first returning to the good morning position is a typical error made when performing Kang Squats.

If you are new to the Kang Squat, it may be helpful to have a spotter assist you.

If you are a beginner, you can start the Kang Squat using a broomstick or a barbell without weights, or even body weight, and move onto a kettlebell until you can perform the full range of motion in perfect form.

What are the Benefits of Performing Kang Squats?

This squat not only works for several muscle groups, but it also offers many other advantages including:

  • Targets the posterior chain
  • Knee health may also be improved, and it may help to prevent lower back pain problems.
  • It is a fantastic support exercise, helping to enhance performance and form of other exercises like deadlifts.
  • Builds injury resilience and neuromuscular control, strength, stability, and mobility within the kinetic chain.
  • Improve general coordination, full-body control, and awareness because they call for a specific order of exerise to be followed.

Kang squats help you develop lower body strength and help with hip flexor movements, ankle mobility, and flexibility.

Hip Joint -  Image from Shutterstock

The Kang squat is a simple exercise to modify. It may be tailored to suit personal preferences, experience, and fitness level, and systematically implemented into any exercise regimen.

Kang squats are an effective exercise that works on all the major muscle groups of the body. The good morning position utilized in the exercise strengthens the back, glutes, and hamstrings while promoting body awareness and connection.

Furthermore, the tension needed throughout the body during the exercise increases stamina and endurance.

Kang squats require you to deliberately slow down, allowing you to focus on proper form and technique, which helps to activate your core muscles and ensure your body is in the right position as you exercise.

What are the Preventive Measures and Tips when Performing the Kang Squats?

Below are some preventive measures and tips to keep in mind while performing Kang squats:

  • Start with a light weight and gradually increase the weight as you get comfortable with the exercise.

  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and point your toes slightly outward.

  • Engage your core and keep your back straight throughout the movement.

  • Descend into the squat slowly, keeping your weight in your heels.

  • Make sure to keep your breathing consistent throughout the exercise.

  • As you come back up, push through your heels and squeeze your glutes.

  • Make sure to use proper form and technique to avoid injury. If you feel pain or discomfort while performing Kang squats, stop immediately and seek medical attention if necessary.

  • It's also a good idea to do warm-up stretches before and cool-down stretches after your workout to help prevent injury and improve flexibility.

  • If you are a beginner, it may be helpful to have a coach or personal trainer watch your form and provide guidance. A CPT can also help you to work the Kang squat into your strength training workout routine and advise you on the number of reps and sets you should aim for.

Who Should not do the Kang Squat?

There are certain people who may not be suitable candidates for the Kang squat, or who should use caution when performing the exercise. These include:

People with knee or hip injuries: The Kang squat places a lot of strain on the knee joint, and individuals with existing knee injuries or weaknesses may find it uncomfortable or painful to perform. The same goes for those with hip injuries or weakness.

Beginners: The Kang squat is an advanced exercise that requires a good amount of lower body strength and stability. If you are new to strength training or have not built up a sufficient base of strength and stability, it may be best to start with easier exercises such as bodyweight squats or lunges before attempting the Kang squat.

People with mobility issues: The Kang squat requires a good range of motion in the hips, knees, and ankles. If you have mobility issues in these areas, you may find it difficult to perform the exercise with proper form.

It is always a good idea to consult a healthcare professional or a certified personal trainer before starting any new exercise program. They can assess your current fitness level and help you determine whether the Kang squat is a suitable exercise for you.

How is the Kang Squat Different from Other Squat Variations?

The Kang squat differs from most other squat forms because it combines the good morning squat and the back squat, giving it more involvement with the muscles in the back and shoulders than a standard squat. However, there are several other squat variations that you might want to try.

1. Split Squat

The split squat requires you to really depend on your core to maintain balance since in this variation, you’ll be squatting with one leg behind you.

2. Overhead Squat

Holding a weight overhead as you squat requires more core engagement than a conventional squat. Furthermore, overhead squats include an isometric (stationary) hold of the weight overhead, working wonders for your arms.

3. Goblet Squat

With a weight held to your chest, the goblet squat helps activate both the posterior chain and the anterior muscle groups of your body.

4. Sumo Squat

With your legs spread very wide and your toes pointing out, your sumo squats will be shallow but perfect to increase flexibility.

5. Squat jacks

Combining jumping jacks and squats is an excellent workout for your legs, doubling as a cardio workout. The Squat jack, aka squat jump, is regarded as one of the 10 best squat positions.

In a Nutshell

Kang squats are great lower-body exercises to add to your routine. They engage multiple muscles in the lower body, including the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. To perform the exercise correctly, be sure to keep your chest up, back flat, and feet shoulder-width apart. Additionally, focus on keeping your weight back on your heels and drive through your heels as you stand up.

Lastly, be sure to maintain control throughout the entire range of motion and keep your core engaged. With proper form and technique, Kang squats can be a valuable tool in your workout routine.

To ensure you have the stamina necessary to get through a brutal lerg day routine, make sure you have this in your shaker cup.