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Squat variations

Want a better 'butt', leaner and stronger 'legs'? than 'squats'?

Squats — you love 'em, hate 'em, or love to hate 'em.

In any case, squats are a simple, effective, and versatile lower body exercise essential in your workout arsenal.

Squats are often called the king of all strength training exercises—and that's for a very good reason.

Squats are mostly known as a leg exercise or lower body workout, but that hardly sums up everything they accomplish. In addition to effectively targeting your hamstrings and glutes, they promote body-wide muscle strengthening and lean muscle building by catalyzing an anabolic environment.

Put simply, squats work your entire body including...

Lower body:

  • Calves
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Quads

Core:

  • Lower back
  • Abs
  • Back

They also help strengthen your bones and prevent injuries often caused by lack of strength or muscular imbalance in the lower body. They help improve your balance and your overall physical strength.

To sum up, if you're looking for a powerful exercise to boost your overall fitness and get some serious results —quickly— from your exercise program, look no further than performing squatting exercises.

Whether you are new to the squat world or are bored with your normal workout, here are fifteen squat variations to add to your workout programs.

15 Squat Variations in more than four different categories including:

Why do we need to squat?

Stuart Phillips, Ph.D., a professor of Kinesiology at McMaster University, is an expert on how resistance exercises benefit the body.

He states that the one exercise that is most beneficial to building strength and toning muscles issquat. Dr. Phillips further explains that a squat “activates the body’s biggest muscles such as the ones in the buttocks, back and legs.

"It is a very potent exercise.” another well sought-after expert in fitness, Jeff Behar, experienced and credible personal trainer and weight loss expert.  

He comments "squats are THE exercise for encouraging overall muscle tone and development."

If they sound too complex, here is what they are really saying. 

All these experts are pointing out that squats' capability to target, multiple large muscles in your body like butt, legs (hamstrings), back and core makes toning not only your legs and butt, but your full-body effective and efficient. If you want to tone your body and get a leaner physique, do squats. 

With that said, performing the classic squats day in, day out can quickly lead to boredom, plateau and muscle burn-out. Adding different squat variations to your workout routines solve the problem and add some spice and fun to your sweat sessions. 

List of Squat Variations and Their Benefits

Let's also not forget that each squat variation may have its own benefit. To get the most out of your squats, we also included proper squatting techniques. 

Let's take a look at the effects each one has on your body and proper squat technique to get the most results. 

One Leg Squat

One leg squat helps to improve overall balance and stability. It also strengthens the knee.

They also cause less stress on the lower spine, helping to prevent back injuries.

This means that even individuals with weak back can reap the benefits of squatting.

The heavier the load the squatting leg carries, the harder all of the targeted muscles work, thus more energy gets spent. This leads to a higher calorie burn which helps you shed more body fat while building lean muscle mass. 

Stability ball squat

Squats using a stability ball force you to engage your abdominal muscles more, in order to keep yourself in the proper squatting position.

This helps to build a stronger core. 

Squats with weights

Squats using barbells or dumbbells not only encourage you to engage your abdominal muscles more to accommodate the extra weight, but also help to tone your arms by forcing you to stabilize the weights.

By incorporating weights in your squatting routine, you are engaging more muscles, especially the larger ones such as glutes, quads and hamstrings.

Adding weights to your squats is pertinent to toning and lifting your glutes (butt), and increasing your leg strength. By adding additional weight such as a:

  • barbell
  • dumbbell
  • kettlebell

you are forcing the primary muscles to work harder by activating them in order to properly squat up and down.

So, ladies, don't even start dreaming of thinner thighs and losing the leg fat without incorporating squats into your workout regime. 

Bodyweight squats:

1. Squat

How to perform a basic #squat #exercise

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, with your arms crossed out in front of you.
  2. Keeping your back straight, bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Hold this position for 2 seconds, then return to the starting position. This is the most basic squat.

2. Band squats

Resistance band #squats

  1. Start by putting both legs inside a 20 inch mini-band, placing it so it rests just above your knees.
  2. Stand straight with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Keep your arms at your chest level out in front of you.
  3. Push your hips back and bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold for 2 seconds, then return to the starting position.

You may be wondering what the purpose of the mini-band is when it comes to squatting. It is a wonderful tool to use to prevent the knees from caving inward.

The band forces you to push your knees outward by engaging the lateral hip muscles. Once you feel the band pulling your knees in, it cues you to press them outward with your hips and glutes.

Once you have truly learned how to squat with correct knee positioning, you will not need the band anymore. 


3. Wall squats

Wall #Squat

  1. Stand 2 feet away from a wall, with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, then lean backwards until your back is resting flat against it.
  2. Extending your arms straight out in front of you, bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Hold this position for 2 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position.

4. Stability ball squats

Stability ball squat

  1. Hold a Stability ball behind you and stand so that the ball is pinned between your back and the wall.
  2. Place your feet about 2 feet in front of your body. Keeping your abs tight back in contact with the ball, lower your body until your upper thighs are at least parallel to the floor.
  3. Hold this position for 2 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position.

5. One leg squat

One leg squat

  1. Stand straight with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and your arms extended out in front of you.
  2. Stand on your right leg with your left leg extended as high as possible out in front of you.
  3. Lower your body until your right thigh is parallel with the floor, keeping your left leg elevated.
  4. Hold this position for 1-2 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position.

6. Partial one leg squat

Partial leg squat

  1. Stand on your left leg on a bench or workout-step that is knee high. Extending your arms out in front of you.
  2.  Lower your body about 6 inches.
  3. hold for 1-2 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position.

You want to eventually progress to lower your body as far as you can without losing control of how low you are going. 

This variation of the traditional squat is great for strengthening your quads and knees, and has been known to reduce the pain of runner's knee. Because you are lowering your body off of a bench, it forces you to engage your entire core in order to stay balanced.

This improves your overall balance and stability, and tones the abdominal muscles.


Squats with weights

7. Dumbbell front squats

Dumbbell front squats

  1. Stand straight, feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand down by your sides.
  2. Raise the dumbbells and let them rest on your shoulders, but do not let them go.
  3. Slowly lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  4. Hold for 1-2 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position. 

 

This move is beneficial for the entire body as it takes a great deal of balance, core strength, mobility and flexibility to perform.

Your entire lower body is engaged as you squat, and your upper body is working hard to keep the barbell stable. 

8. Goblet squat

Goblet squat

  1. Stand straight with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, grasp and hold a dumbbell vertically in front of your chest, with both hands holding one end of the dumbbell.
  2. Slowly lower your body down, as far as you can comfortably go, hold for 2 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position. 

9. Sumo squat

Sumo squat

  1. Stand straight with your feet twice as wide as shoulder width apart. Hold a dumbbell perpendicular to the ground with both hands.
  2.  Slowly lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor, with your knees pointing out to the side.
  3. Hold for 1-2 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position. 

10. Dumbbell squat

Dumbbell #squat #exercise

  1. Stand straight with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms down by your sides.
  2. Slowly lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Hold for 2 seconds, then return to the starting position. 

11. Dumbbell Overhead squat 

Dumbbell overhead squat

  1. Stand straight with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and raise them straight up above your shoulders. Your palms should be facing outward and your arms should be fully extended. With your abdominal muscles held tight and your hips pushed back, slowly lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Hold for 2 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position and repeat. 

12. Barbell Front Squat 

Barbell front #squats

  1. Place a barbell on the rack at chest height. Stand straight with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  2. Cross your arms and place your hands on top of the barbell. Keep your upper arms parallel to the floor and dismount the barbell from the rack.
  3.  Slowly lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold for 2 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position.

This move forces the exerciser to engage the posterior chain and core muscles. It is great for strengthening the core muscles, since it requires you to balance the weight.

It also places much less stress on the lower back and puts emphasis on the quads. All of this makes front squats ideal for beginners. Back squats place more emphasis on the glutes and hamstrings.

This is great if you are looking to lift your butt and bring more definition to the back of your legs. 


13. Barbell Back Squat

Barbell back #squat #exercise

  1. Hold the barbell on your forearms, let it rest on your shoulders, holding it with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  2. Tighten your abs and core to lower your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Hold for 2 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position.

Back squats allow you to utilize much heavier weights than front squats.


14. Overhead Barbell Squat

Barbell overhead squat

  1. Stand straight with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Using an overhand grasp, raise a barbell straight overhead and slightly behind your head.
  2. Slowly squat down to lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Hold for 2 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position. As you grow more familiar with this move, you can squat deeper to further strengthen your muscles. 

15. Barbell Squat-Heels Raised

Heels raise squat

  1. Placeand hold a barbell on your upper back with an overhand grip. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and tighten your abds to maintain core stability.
  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place heels on a pair of five-pound weight plates resting on the ground.
  3. Bend your knees and squat down by lowering your hips. At the bottom of the position, your knees should be about 90 degrees with thighs parallel to the floor.
  4. Hold for 2 seconds then explode upward back to the starting position pushing through your heels?

The purpose of performing squats with an elevated heel is to encourage the squatter to keep their back more upright when performing deeper squats.

A main reason that an individual cannot perform deep squats is because their calf muscles are too tight. Elevating the heel can assist in performing deeper squats. 


 

There you have it! 15 best squats exercises for a leaner body and better and stronger butt and legs. 

As you can see there are so many other squat variations other than the basic bodyweight squat.

Take away is squat is a fantastic lower body exercise you can do to strengthen your quads, hamstrings and glutes in addition to all the other parts of your body such as core and back.

It's a full-body workout with an emphasis on the lower body. Because it improves strength, balance and bone mass, it's effective as injury prevention. Some research states it's also effective in preventing knee injuries and avoiding osteoporosis as you age.

Squats will even make you a better runner by increasing your lower body strength.

But of course, most importantly, squats build better butt, for all we care. They help lift, shape and round your posteriors, so they pop in your skinny jeans, bikini and yoga pants. 

Leave a comment below to let us know if we left out a squat variation that you wanted to see on the list.




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