Squats are a must in every leg workout. No matter how hard it might seem, you can find a squat variation you will love. Building impressive glutes always involves some squats in a workout routine. Read on to find a perfect squat for yourself.
The squat is a compound lower body exercise involving multiple joints and primarily activating your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. As you squat, your core muscles also work statically to keep balance.
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You might have seen many squat interpretations. Let's discuss the basic rules that are applicable to every squat:
Below, we will show you how versatile squats are no matter what equipment and location you choose. Learn how to target the muscles you want to grow by adjusting feet position and bending angle.
Place your feet a bit wider than your shoulder width and your toes a bit outwards. You can lean forward a little bit to feel the stretch in your glutes. You need to gradually increase the difficulty of the exercise by adding extra resistance (weight, resistance bands, or slowing down your movement)2Comfort, Paul. (2007, December). Optimizing Squat Technique. Strength and Conditioning Journal. DOI:10.1519/00126548-200712000-00001.
Adductors are your inner thighs. To target adductors, place your feet twice wider than your shoulder width with your toes outwards2Comfort, Paul. (2007, December). Optimizing Squat Technique. Strength and Conditioning Journal. DOI:10.1519/00126548-200712000-00001. This squat variation is also called sumo squat.
Place your feet at shoulder width with your toes facing the front. Perform squats as usual. Squats in the Smith machine focus on quads more than weighted squats3Signorile, Joseph F.; Weber, Brad; Roll, Brad; Caruso, John F.; Lowensteyn, Ilka; Perry, Arlette C. (1994, August) An Electromyographical Comparison of the Squat and Knee Extension Exercises. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Retrieved from https://paulogentil.com/pdf/S16.pdf. If you do leg press, put your legs on the top of the platform and keep them together4Escamilla, R F et al. (2001, September). Effects of technique variations on knee biomechanics during the squat and leg press. Michael W. Krzyzewski Human Performance Laboratory, Division of Orthopaedic Surgery and Duke Sports Medicine, Duke University Medical Center. DOI:10.1097/00005768-200109000-00020.
This is the first squat variation you need to master before moving on to harder progressions. You can easily do it at home. Just make sure you have a mirror to control your form. What if you can easily do 20-30 bodyweight squats and don’t have any extra equipment? Pause at the lowest point of your squat or bounce a little bit to make the exercise more challenging.
This is a bit harder variation of squats that trains. You can simply jump as you move up from the squatting position. This is perfect for home workouts. If you exercise outside or in the gym, you can find a lifted surface (stairs, a box, or a platform).
It is a great way to add some extra resistance while working out at home. There are different types of elastics you can find. The main difference between elastics and weights is that any resistance band creates more tension when stretched. Weights create the same tension as you move. That is why you receive different loads while you perform the exercise.
You can choose two dumbbells and place them outside your legs or hold one heavier dumbbell between your legs. The second variation will allow you to put your legs wider and target your glutes and hamstrings more. You can also hold dumbbells in front of you to add static engagement to your shoulders.
To squat with a kettlebell, choose the weight you can lift to your chin. Hold the kettlebell between your legs if you want to take bigger weights. Use two platforms for your feet if you don't want the kettlebell to touch the surface.
Place a bar on the top of your back so it doesn't slide and hold it with a direct grip. The bat should be parallel to the surface as you move. As you become stronger, you can choose heavier bars and add symmetrical-weighted plates to them.
This squat is a quad-focused exercise5Contreras, B., Vigotsky, A. D., Schoenfeld, B. J., Beardsley, C., & Cronin, J. (2016). A Comparison of Gluteus Maximus, Biceps Femoris, and Vastus Lateralis Electromyography Amplitude in the Parallel, Full, and Front Squat Variations in Resistance-Trained Females. Journal of Applied Biomechanics. DOI:10.1123/jab.2015-0113. Place the bar next to your collarbones and hold it with a reversed grip. You shouldn't feel that your hands do too much work holding the bar. Use them only for stabilizing it.
This machine is a great alternative for the ones fro are not confident with free weights or have health conditions like scoliosis. In the hack machine, you bend forward more than while doing a classic squat, which allows you to target your glutes better.
The Smith machine controls the symmetry of your movement and the bar path. This machine is also great for big weights as you don't have to lift the bar yourself to place it on your back. Mind that the Smith machine focuses on your quads more than on your glutes6Schwanbeck, Shane; Chilibeck, Philip D; Binsted, Gordon. (2009, December). A Comparison of Free Weight Squat to Smith Machine Squat Using Electromyography. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. DOI:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181b1b181.
Leg press can activate your glutes way better than usual squats. Choose a wider stance and upper leg position on the platform if you want to target the glutes7Da Silva, Eduardo Marczwski; Brentano, Michel Arias; Cadore, Eduardo Lusa; De Almeida, Ana Paula Viola; Kruel, Luiz Fernando Martins. (2008, July). Analysis of Muscle Activation During Different Leg Press Exercises at Submaximum Effort Levels. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: DOI:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181739445. Place your legs closer and lower to focus on your quads. Don't straighten your legs fully - it will help you avoid trauma.
This is a static exercise that goes well at the end of a workout. Squat down next to a wall and lean with your back on it. Try to keep this position for at least 30 seconds. For extra tension, put a resistance band on your thighs.
This squat variation works your legs, core, arms, and shoulders at the same time. Squat with two ropes in your hands and start making waves with the ropes. Don't straighten your legs until you feel tired or sore.
Try split squats if you find usual squats uncomfortable or can't do them due to medical reasons. You need to make one step forward and bend your knees at approximately 90 degrees. Your knee should be close to the ground but not touch it.
Choose a surface that is about your knee height. It can be a bench, box, your bed or sofa, and even a TRX loop. Make one big step from it and turn your back to the surface. Place one leg on this surface and squat down.
This type of squat is rather popular in yoga. Make a big step forward and bend your front leg/ You don't need to squat as deep as usual unless your body can perform it without pain. The point is to keep balance and give a little stretch to your glutes.
Straighten one leg in front of you. Squat on the other leg as low as you can. This exercise might seem hard at first, so here's what you can do to make it easier:
Squats that combine different exercises are rather popular in CrossFit and other types of functional training. You can perform squats with bicep curls, shoulder presses, side leg raises, and many other exercises.
Try unusual squats when you need to add some spice to your workouts. Bosu ball squats are great for balance and core engagement. You can also try medicine ball squats, trampoline squats, and special balance squats.
Squat is one of the most important exercises for legs and glutes. Squats with a broader stance and slight leaning forward work better for glute growth. To see strength gain and muscle growth, you need to apply progressive overload - adding complexity to your exercise with extra weight, more challenging variations, or more reps.
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