Squat Variations

Squats Create An Anabolic Environment. No other exercise on the planet (with the possible exception of the deadlift) does more to promote overall muscle growth. This means, not only will the squat build muscles directly related to the exercise itself – like your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves – it also indirectly promotes muscle growth across the rest of your body, in places like your biceps, chest, and back.

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*Important Note* – Don’t do squats if you don’t plan on using proper technique. This is how you injure yourself; this is how you get bad knees. Take the time to learn how to squat, and start by using only the bar with no additional weight. Only once you’ve mastered your technique should you begin progressing with weights.

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Back Squat

Advantages: Posterior chain power, hypertrophy

Grab the barbell with a grip slightly wider than shoulder width, step under the bar, and place it across your upper back just below the top of your trapezius. Be sure to keep your shoulder blades pulled tightly together and maintain a tight upper back throughout the lift.

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Front Squat

Advantages: Balanced leg strength, core and upper back strength, harder to cheat

I prefer a clean grip for the front squat. To perform it this way, grab a barbell with a grip slightly wider than shoulder-width. Swing your elbows under the bar until they are pointing forward and the barbell rests across your shoulders in front of you.

Keep your elbows pointed forward throughout the movement. Squat while keeping your weight on your heels. Keep your chest and elbows up.

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Overhead Squat

Advantages: Balance, muscular control, increased mobility

Snatch or press the barbell overhead and, while keeping it over your center of gravity, perform a squat. Overhead squats demand a certain degree of shoulder mobility to be executed correctly, but taking wide grip on the barbell makes this much easier.

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Zercher Squats

Advantages: Torso and core strength, less spinal compression, carryover to deadlift

Real masochists, er, minimalists, start off by dead lifting a barbell off the floor, setting it on their thighs, hooking their elbows under the bar, and pressing it up. For the rest of us, place the barbell in the rack just lower than your sternum.

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Bulgarian Split Squat

Advantages: Trains balance, hypertrophy, addresses strength imbalances

Place one foot a few feet behind you on a bench or raised platform. Keeping an upright torso, begin by pushing your hips back, like in a back squat. Allow your back leg to bend at the knee.

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One-Legged Squat

Advantages: Quad strength, lack of spinal compression

Building up a one-legged squat can be difficult, so approach it as a long-term project. Start by squatting to a high box or bench, being careful to lower yourself under control. Once you can do a few reps at a certain height, lower the box and repeat.

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Hack Squat

Advantages: Quad strength, lack of spinal compression

Position a barbell just behind your legs, with your feet flat on the floor or heels raised on a small plate. Grab the barbell behind you with an overhand (palms facing backward) grip. Keeping your back arched and chest up, extend your hips and knees until you are standing straight up.

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Remember what squats do!!!

  1. Entire Body Workout (almost)
  2. Tone and Tighten Your Butt
  3. Improve Balance
  4. Gain Flexibility
  5. Increase Your Vertical Jump

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