Squatting is one exercise that absolutely everybody (who is physically able) should incorporate into their workout routine.
Trying to move & feel better? Squats are also an unbelievably functional exercise. From being able to pick up and put down heavy stuff without straining your back, to hovering above a porta-pottie seat, to simply standing up and sitting down easier, squats make everyday movements easier. Squats strengthen your core, and help you improve & maintain balance & mobility.
Trying to stay active? Squats improve performance during other activities, such as team sports, hiking, running, climbing, jumping, and more. They also strengthen the joints & ligaments which helps prevent injury.
The basic air squat:
This is the most basic of all squats, and a necessary one to master before moving on to any of the other squats listed here.
The basic squat movement is this: With your arms extended in front of you or overhead, squat until your buttocks are below your knees, then rise back up. Keep your knees behind your toes, your weight on your heels, and your back straight while you squat.
You should continue to use this good squatting form on all squat variations to avoid injury, unless a different squat technique or form is specified (like squatting on your toes).
Ten Simple Squat Variations
1. Squat kicks
Descend into a squat, and on the upward movement find your balance and kick one leg out in front of you, extending as much as possible. Alternate legs for squat kick reps.
Stand with your feet touching, and rise onto your toes. Bend you knees and lower yourself until your glutes touch the back of your heels, then stand back up. Stay balanced on your toes for the entire squat.
3. Jump squat:
The same as an air squat, but use explosive force on the upward movement to jump high off the ground. Land and immediately descend into the next squat.
4. Plie squat:
This is a wide-legged squat, which activates the glutes more so than a narrow-stance squat. Place your feet wider than your shoulders, and use the wide stance to squat lower, with more balance and deeper mobility.
5. SIFF squat:
Place your feet shoulder-width apart. Rise off your heels onto your toes, find your balance, then squat without lowering your heels.
Hold a Kettlebell or dumbbell with both hands in front of your chest and squat.
Stand with a bench or box directly behind you, and rest the top of one foot on it. Center your weight on your front foot- the bench your back foot is resting on is purely for balance, not for supporting weight. Perform your squats with your front leg, then switch legs. *Tip: The further out you move your front leg, the deeper the squat.
Rest a barbell on the “meaty” part of your shoulders in the front. Perform your squats as you usually would. Keep in mind that during a front squat, the torso should not lean forward as much as a back squat. The upper half of your body should remain mostly upright.
Start by testing out your shoulders’ range of motion by moving your arms in backwards circles. Remember how it feels at the point where your arms are wide apart, overhead, and you can no longer move them backwards without bringing them below head-height. That is how wide your grip should be with the barbell. Using this wide grip, press the barbell overhead (it will be slightly behind your head), and perform your squats as usual.
Note: You can also hold a weight plate overhead for overhead squats, if you don’t like using the barbell.
Center your weight on one foot and extend the other leg out in front of you. Keeping your weight on your heel, squat until your buttocks are below the hips, then rise back up.
Note: The pistol squat is a very difficult squat variation that requires double the strength of an air squat. A general rule of thumb is if you can back squat your bodyweight, then you have the strength needed to perform a pistol squat.