10 Squat Variations For Awesome Results
Squats are one of those classic exercises just about every single person should have in their programs (especially moms! Read why here). Not only do we squat variation each and every day but squats (when done properly) can help boost lower body strength and prevent injuries.
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As I mentioned, squats are just about essential for everyone and in my opinion a fundamental movement everyone should perfect. We squat each and every day when we:
- Get up from the couch
- Go to the bathroom
- Talk to children
- Get out of the car.
The list goes on.
Unfortunately though, many people “cheat” this movement or perform them incorrectly because they’re not strong enough or they don’t understand the correct way to use them. And while I’m not here to chat about form, there are a few tips everyone should know about squatting:
Your heals remain on the floor. Far too often people elevate the heels because they can’t get low enough into their squat. Instead of doing this day in and day out, work to improve your mobility.
Squats (and squat variations) require a lot of mobility through the hips and the ankles.
Your knees shouldn’t cave in when squatting. This is most common amongst females and much of the reason is poorly activated glutes. When people complain about knee pain in a squat it’s normally because they are falling forward, not sinking the weight back or the knees are caving in.
As I mentioned above, since we naturally squat each and every day, it only makes sense to me that we perfect the movement, become strong in it and truly understand the squat in order to make day to day tasks easier.
But the basic, bodyweight version can get a bit boring. And the truth is, doing them in excess volume (100 squats per workout) doesn’t actually get you very far in any goal.. but that’s a rant for another day 😉
With so many squat variations out there, it seems silly to stick to the same boring bodyweight option each and every workout! So below are 10 squat variations I use with myself and my clients.
Rarely is there just cause that some sort of squat shouldn’t be in a program. So try out a few different squat variations to find one that suits your goals and abilities best. Then, try more! Mixing up your programs every little bit is a great way to push past plateaus, achieve goals and prevent boredom.
So let’s start off with my favorite shall we?
The best squat for beginners (after learning bodyweight squats of course!). This squat is utterly useful for almost everyone because the load is placed in the front making it easier to sink the weight backwards.
It can also be done with a variety of equipment and is extremely low impact for a loaded exercise. Lastly, it still provides external load which helps stimulate your fast twitch fibers and really hit your muscles.
Barbell Back Squat
This squat is truly my all time favorite option. I love lifting heavy weights so this fits just in. This squat is a great option for anyone looking to get into resistance training and who already has great squat form. You don’t need to lift extremely heavy to do this squat but you do have to know how to use proper technique. Nerd Fitness actually has a great How To blog post.
I love this variation not just for the lower body activation but because it loads the vertabrae as well which helps prevent osteoporosis.
Banded squats are my go-to squat to improve glute strength and work on fixing the knees while squatting. I like to use these mini green bands for resistance because they’re so effective.
Squat With Slide
This squat challenges your endurance and also targets your legs in a bit of a unilateral way. It’s challenging to maintain the position while moving a limb and thus requires just about your entire body to fire in order to complete it.
Barbell Front Squats
This squats are a great option to challenge your mobility and your anterior core!
They’re a very tricky exercise and I’d advise having a really strong back squat prior to trying them but they’re truly amazing when it comes to strength training.
Squat With Parlof Press
These squats challenge your endurance and your core muscles. They require you to hold the squat at the parallel mark while pressing the weight outright in front of you. They’re challenging and rewarding.
This squat variation is my all time favorite way to improve form and technique! It can be used with any squat variation and requires you to pause at the bottom of a squat and focus on activating the muscles. This makes it so you improve the hardest part of a squat (thus making you stronger) and also prevents any bouncing momentum coming back up.
Single Leg Squats
Training unilaterally is a great way to gain strength, prevent injury and bust plateaus (check out my favorite exercises here). Single leg squats can be done with a booster so you have a marker or free standing. Regardless, they`re extremely challenging so ensure good form before working them into a program.
TRX Front Squats
Trx is a great tool for anyone with injuries or just starting out. This particular version takes much of the load off of the lower body and allows for an easier full range of motion once you understand how to rock the basic technique.
For anyone looking to boost power jumps are a great place to start. Make sure you practice landing (soft landing, knees not caving) in order to prevent injuries. I prefer these off the ground versus onto a box and you should only do as many as form allows- never past.
Not sure what the exercises are? Check out a visual demo here!
Don’t Forget To Pin These Squat Variations!
Squats are an amazing exercise for just about everybody. They’re function, they boost your strength and decrease your risk of injury and there’s a variation for everyone. Find a version that suits your abilities, limits and goals and start squatting!