Fitness Tips 8 MIN READ 5624 VIEWS August 23, 2017

5 Squat Variations Every Fitness Freak Should Do

Written By Rohini Nag

From building balance to strengthening muscles to improving overall fitness, performing squat variations can help you with all. Here are 5 squat variations you must include in your workout.

What Are Squat Exercises?
To strengthen your back and core muscles, positioning a straight back and aiding runners, squat exercises do it all. You can build power through squat exercises as it focuses on your quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. Athletes and fitness enthusiasts perform squat exercises to build a stronger back and grit. Squat position requires all your core muscles in the body to participate and despite limitations, it is also suitable for beginners. You can use medicine balls or barbells for different types of squats however you have to make sure you do it with a trainer or are comfortable with tools. Squat exercises improve your overall stability in walking, running and setting up power and posture for both. Squats also build muscle power to prevent injury. Here are some of the feasible squat exercises you can tweak into your workout!
The Classic Squat Variations
Here are some classic squat variations which you can master (with weights or without). You can only focus on shifting and balancing your bodyweight and then go on to variations of squat exercises. 
  • Side squatting: In this exercise, you stand stretching both your legs apart. Then you bend your left knee for starters and then balance your weight by pushing up from the ground from side to side. If you start with your left side, then you balance your body weight on your left while you push upwards, then repeat the process to your right.  You can try this up to 15 counts on both sides. These simple squat exercises focus on your glutes
  • Overhead squatting: Stand with your legs apart aligned with your shoulder-width or more if you can. Stretch a towel with your hands overhead. Bring your shoulders closer together as you tighten your abs and then push down into a squat position. You can do this from 10-15 reps and divide between two sessions. Stretching down your body weight tightens your core muscles and gives you better posture with overhead squat exercises. 

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  • Jump Squatting: Squat exercises with jumps require you to balance your body weight on your knees. Start with a squatting position and then jump up while maintaining a straight back. Avoid falling down on knees, so practice with caution. You can do two sets depending on comfort and up to 10 counts. You can strengthen hamstrings and calves with this squat position. 
  • Twist Squatting: Start with a basic squat position then as you get up to move (still in the squat position) twist your torso to the left. Arms should be stretched out to your left, then you come back to your normal squat position. Repeat the same to your right, with arms in the same movement and torso stretched towards your right. Take 15 counts or more depending on your agility. You can also practice twist exercises with weighted medicine balls. Squat positions such as twisting covers your glutes and cores. 
The Top 5 Squat Variations 
1. The Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat

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This squat exercise explores training with a single leg. This is especially beneficial to those fitness enthusiasts or athletes who have restrictions using heavy weights due to injuries or whatsoever. You can also try the “pistol squat” variation (single-leg squat) in order to build power in your core muscles. Now, for the squat, all you need to do is:

  1. Rest one foot on a box or a chair that elevates your back foot. 
  2. Then hold a weight to reduce the pressure on spine and put your front foot forward (in a lunge position)
  3. When you position the front leg it should be at a 90 degrees angle from your hips and the ground. 
  4. Then you drive forward with your muscle strength in squat position while keeping your back straight. 
  5. The height of the back foot elevation box or chair should be even to the height of hips when you are squatting. 
  6. Try to do 10 reps with each leg with trainer’s guidance
For the single-leg or “pistol squat” all you need to do is:
  • Stand straight on the ground and put your arms in front of you in a straight stretch position. 
  • Extend one leg upwards in front of you as you do step one. You are balancing on your other leg. 
  • Maintaining this position, you should try to lower your body (in the squat) and then push up slowly maintaining balance. You can hold this squat position till your other leg retains balance. 
  • You can balance your body weight on your heels briefly while doing this squat exercise. As you develop your strength on balancing lower, then go deeper as you can.
You can do up to 15 reps altering your legs and repeating in two sessions. You can do squat exercises such as these with or without weights. If you place a dumbbell with your hands stretched out in front of you while performing these squat variations, then it will actually balance your weight and make it easier to do the task. 
2. Goblet Squat Exercise

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Talk about flexing and strengthening your core muscles, then goblet squat is just the go-to exercise. Recommended by fitness experts and professional training for athletes, goblet squats go a long way. It is easy to do and safe to perform with weights. To do goblet squats all you need to do is:

  1. Hold a dumbbell or a kettlebell in front of you pressed to your palms and closer to your chest. 
  2. You should be holding the dumbbell closer to your chest while going to a squat position.
  3. While you are about to bend your knees in squat position, try not to tilt your hips or back. Remain in a neutral position.
  4. This exercise requires you to descend by bringing your hips back and lowering your body simultaneously. 
  5. Keeping a weight balances out your body weight so that you naturally do not stick out your hips too far while bending lower. The goal is to keep your hips neutral and descend keeping a firm back. 
Squat exercises such as the goblet squat if done properly engages fully with your core muscles. This builds upper body strength and is strongly recommended for athletes. 
3. Eccentric Front Squat Exercise and Low-Bar Back Squats

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If you have to focus just on your quads what better than eccentric front squat exercises, that allows your quads to grow more power. The eccentricity of the exercise is where your quads lengthen. Such types of squats are apt for runners. For eccentric squat exercises all you need to do is: 

  1. Position a barbell on your front shoulders and adjust your hands parallel to the floor while holding/supporting the barbell you placed on your shoulders. 
  2. While you have successfully made a grip on the barbells take a few steps back while maintaining overall balance. 
  3. You should now obtain the squat position by stretching your legs/foot at a shoulder-hip width carefully. 
  4. While you have got your position slowly try to descend downwards with your back straight. You should be able to feel the power of the squat on your body. 
  5. Descend slowly while you feel the emphasis on your quads. 
  6. When one set is done you should be able to push on your heels and regain start position. Repeat again. 
  7. You can do up to 10 reps or more depending on flexibility and training requirements. 
Similarly, you can try out squat variations such as a low-bar back squat exercise.

Image Source: YouTube

As you hold the barbells on to your front shoulder, in this types of squats, you hold it behind your shoulders and grip. To perform squat exercises with low-bar back all you need to do is: 
  1. Stand straight while positioning a barbell on your back shoulders. 
  2. While you do this, you automatically tuck your head under the barbell and grip with your hands behind your shoulders. 
  3. The position of the barbell remains above your armpits supported on your upper back. 
  4. Take a few steps back and stand with your legs shoulder-width apart maintaining barbell in the same position. 
  5. You should push down on your hips and knees while maintaining a straight back.
  6. You can push upwards while weighing on your heels while you feel the emphasis on the hinges of your hips, knee and heels.
  7. Rest back in start position and repeat 2 sets.
  8. You can do up to 10 counts in each sets. 
4. Landmine Squat Exercise

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While the goblet squat takes you to reach limits of upper body strength the landmine squat exercise focuses on your hips. For athletes of fitness trainees who have movement restrictions, can try landmine squats as it is great for their weight balance on the back. Landmine squats restrict downfall and is beneficial for injured trainees and athletes. Squat exercises such as these create hip movements for athletes. For this type of squats all you need to do is:

  1. You will require weights to do this exercise so stand with your legs over the weight side by side. 
  2. Place your hands in mid-central position of your body when you lower to reach for the weight handle bar. 
  3. After you’ve held the bar try to stand tall on your back without moving your hands from the bar. 
  4. You should drive the middle of your foot to give you balance to stand while doing landmine squats. 
  5. The bar should be in front of your pelvis (you don’t lift the bar, it stays at rest) and you keep your hips and back in neutral position. This has to be done while you are pushing up to stand. 
  6. As the bar is in front of you, the natural bent will be to lean forward but you should avoid this and try to stand tall with a straight back to complete landmine squat successfully.
  7. You can do 10 reps with trainer’s guidance. 
5. Jump Squat with box exercise
This exercise takes after simple jump squat but with support adages such as exercise boxes. Squat exercises for explosive workouts (building power structure to your body) is just like squatting up and down on a pavement. This types of squats allow elasticity of muscles and are desirable for fitness. You can start with 12-inch boxes and then move on to higher ones as you gain your strength through the exercise.

To do the jump squat on boxes all you need to do is:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-hip width apart.
  2. Try to come to a neutral squat position spreading your body weight evenly.
  3. While you obtain balance simply put your hands/arms behind your back keeping your palms open and straight (imagine how you would normally jump).
  4. With that squat position jump on to the first box and let your hands sway above your head. 
  5. Land in a squat position on to the next box and repeat the same. 
  6. Finally, land on a squat position at the end of the exercise. 
  7. Step down from the boxes and rest for 5 seconds to catch your breath. 
  8. Repeat the set again. 
  9. You can do up to 10 counts in each set. 
Try these squat variations, be ready to experience improved body strength and fitness.
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