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I Challenged Myself to 30 Days of Weighted Squats… Here’s What Happened

Share on PinterestPhotos by Gabrielle Kassel

CrossFit is my jam, hot yoga is my Sunday ceremony, and a 5-mile run from Brooklyn to Manhattan is my pre-brunch ritual. I’m fit. I’m active. But I hate my bum — I always have.

It’s the bum that was called “too bony,” the bum I was teased for in grade and high school (“Where is it…?”), and the bum whose absence became even more apparent when I started strength training more regularly and my biceps, shoulders, and triceps filled out. “Built upside down,” my gym crush laughs.

So, there I was one day hating on my tuchus out loud when my editor suggested I try 20 squats with weights every day. She figured if I’d run to work every day for two weeks, I’d probably jump on the opportunity to get a rounder, juicier booty — and I did.

Thirty days later, my glutes are stronger and the muscular endurance in my arms definitely improved from all that kettlebell holding. I also built up quite a bit of core strength doing 600 weighted squats over a month. The front and back squats I have to do during CrossFit are also easier since I focused on my form and keeping my heels down.

My friend at the gym (with an equally flat behind) exclaimed with supportive glee, “I see that booty jiggle, GK!”

While I might not continue these daily goblet squat breaks (as a Cross Fitter, I’ve already reaped the benefits of basic squats), there’s a lot I’ve learned about form, foundation, and how to take squats to the next level from this challenge. If you’re building your booty from the beginning, here’s what you need to know:

A 30-day squat challenge needs more than just squats

Alena Luciani, MS, CSCS, Pn1, founder of Training2xl made it clear that adding weights is the way to upgrade your regular squats. Strengthening your booty comes with some real benefits. Strong glutes do so much more than make your waist look smaller and your booty look amazing in a pair of leggings or jeans. They also improve speed, agility, power, and prevent risk of injuries related to your back, says Luciani.

“Squats primarily focus on the gluteus maximus. But your glutes consist of two other muscles called the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. You’ll need to exercise all three to see the results you’re going for,” Luciani says.

To fully activate and build every bit of your booty, you’re going to need a workout routine that involves a variety of exercises like:

  • hip thrusts
  • donkey kicks
  • deadlifts
  • lateral leg lifts
  • lunges

However, if you’re not a fitness fiend, or you just want to focus on your squats, the plan I tried is an excellent start. It’s easy to commit to (because who wants to do 100 squats every day), builds impressive core, arm, and back strength, and delivers on the booty lift, especially if you’re new to squats.

Here’s what experts say about adding weighted squats

Luciani’s tips on adding weighted squats to your routine:

  • Nail a bodyweight squat first.
  • Add a weight that you can do at least 10 reps at.
  • If you have access to a trainer, have them check your form.
  • Don’t just do squats.
  • Continue adding weight when the squats start to feel too easy.

Thanks to CrossFit, I had air squats and weighted back squats down. Luciani gave me the lowdown on a few other weighted squat variations and I decided to focus specifically on the goblet squat.

How to do a goblet squat

  1. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in both hands at chest level and stand with your feet hip-width to shoulder-width apart.
  2. Stand tall and brace your core, then drop your butt back and down as you keep your chest up, sitting back onto your heels without shifting your weight forward onto the balls of your feet.
  3. Driving through your heels, come back up to standing and give your glutes a squeeze. That’s 1 rep.

Once I settled on the goblet squat, Luciani helped me devise this four-week plan to ensure my booty gains:

Week Squat plan
1 2 sets of 10 squats with 1 minute of rest, 35-lb kettlebell
2 1 set of 20 squats, 35-lb kettlebell
3 2 sets of 10 squats with 1 minute of rest, 42-lb kettlebell
4 1 set of 20 squats, 42-lb kettlebell

With daily reminders set for 2:00 pm (I work from home and have a gym in my apartment building, so the midday squat session was actually a nice break from my work), I got down to it. Literally.

Cue up “Miss New Booty” and read on to learn how my monthlong challenge went and whether or not I’m sporting the booty of my dreams.

Here’s how my four weeks went

Week one: Discovering my weak spots and strengthening my form

Share on PinterestEnd of week one. Photos by Gabrielle Kassel
What I did: 2 sets of 10 squats with 1 minute of rest, 35-lb kettlebell

The goblet squats pointed out how weak and inflexible my inner thighs, hip flexors, and ankles were. My tight hips made it challenging to be parallel with the floor, so the first week I had to get used to the comfortable soreness.

It definitely wasn’t just my glutes taking a hit either. I was surprised by the other muscle groups these squats awakened: my quads and core in particular! To be fair, Luciani mentions: “Front loaded squats are a great exercise for quads, core, and upper back.”

And after sending Luciani a video for a form check after my first day, she pointed out that my heels often came off the ground when I pushed up. She recommended that I really focus on pushing off the floor with my heels when I drive upwards to remedy the situation. After toying around with positioning, I actually found it easier to keep good form when I did the squats barefoot, which Luciani assures is totally safe.

Pro tip: If you don’t have a trainer who can check your form, take a video of your squats and play them back. You can also analyze your form in real time when you’re moving in front of a mirror at the gym.

Week two: Taking it one squat at a time

Share on PinterestBeginning of week two (L), end of week two (R). Photos by Gabrielle Kassel
What I did: 1 set of 20 squats, 35-lb kettlebell

Transitioning from 2 sets of 10 to 1 set of 20 was physically tricky, especially those last four squats in the second set. It was also tough mentally because all those reps began to feel a little repetitive.

To keep myself focused during the exercise, I started counting reps out loud, which helped each squat feel like box I needed to check off my to-do list (and I do love to-do lists). I also made sure to text my friend group each day to help hold myself accountable.

Squats primarily focus on the gluteus maximus. But your glutes consist of two other muscles called the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. You’ll need to exercise all three to see the results you’re going for.
— Alena Luciani, MS, CSCS

Week three: Upping the weight and feeling stronger

Share on PinterestBeginning of week three (L), end of week three (R). Photos by Gabrielle Kassel
What I did: 2 sets of 10 squats with 1 minute of rest, 42-lb kettlebell

By the third week, I was ready to tackle the heavier weight. “You’ll know you’re ready to go up in weight when the last two reps of each set are no longer super challenging,” Luciani says. While I definitely felt the extra 7 pounds of my 42-pound kettlebell, I wasn’t noticeably sore from the added weight.

The best part was that by the end of the third week, I no longer had to worry as much about my form. My heels stopped coming off the floor and I instinctively pushed my knees out during each rep.

Week four: Feeling more confident

Share on PinterestBefore and after of the 30-day challenge. Photos by Gabrielle Kassel
What I did: 1 set of 20 squats, 42-lb kettlebell

I didn’t quite realize it until the end of the fourth week but my squats felt considerably easier than they had during week one, even though I’d gone up in weight. And I didn’t only feel stronger, I looked it.

My friend at the gym (with an equally flat behind) exclaimed with supportive glee, “I see that booty jiggle, GK!” to which another friend echoed, “Seriously, your booty looks more lifted or something.”

After class when I got home, I shimmied on my favorite pair of jeans for the first time since the beginning of the experiment, and I had to agree with them… my booty was definitely bigger. It still fit in my pants — I was no Kardashian booty overnight success story — but my rear was definitely tighter. Reflectively, I wish I’d thought to take a pre- and postchallenge measurement, but I assure you the jean test results are indisputable.

Booty burn Your body burns more calories to maintain lean muscle tissue than it does to maintain fat tissue. That means weights can help bring on a stronger butt, faster metabolism, and more calories burned all day long.

The end of the experiment

In celebration of my friends’ comments and my slightly lifted rear end, I danced my way over to lululemon to purchase a pair of black workout booty shorts. I may still have some work to do before I feel 100 percent comfortable strutting around in them at my gym but I like wearing them around the apartment and admiring my improved rounder bum whenever I check myself out in the full-length mirror in the bathroom.

If you try any 30-day squat challenge, I recommend you switch it up after a month. Luciani told me that after roughly four weeks of using the same exercises, your glutes will adapt to the routine and stop growing. At that point, you’ll need to switch up the exercises to provide a new muscle-building stimulus.

That said, Luciani said I should try to continue to incorporate goblet squats (or another front-loaded squat like front squats) at least once a week into my routine to maintain the core strength I’d built up (from an accumulative 600 weighted squats!) over the month. Who knows, maybe I’ll keep my 2:00pm booty appointment with the gym downstairs in the name of backside confidence.

Gabrielle Kassel is a rugby-playing, mud-running, protein-smoothie-blending, meal-prepping, CrossFitting, New York-based wellness writer. She’s become a morning person, tried the Whole30 challenge, and eaten, drank, brushed with, scrubbed with, and bathed with charcoal — all in the name of journalism. In her free time, she can be found reading self-help books, bench-pressing, or practicing hygge. Follow her on Instagram.

One of the best exercises for you, whether you’re trying to build muscle or lose weight (or both) HAS to be the squat.

However, it’s also an exercise I see nearly EVERYBODY do incorrectly.

We do video form checks with every Online Coaching Client to make sure they’re squatting correctly, and we use a LOT of the same cues and instruction we cover in this guide!

Want video form checks of your squat from a trained professional? Learn more:

So have no fear…

After reading this big ass squat guide (pun intended, I suppose?) – part of our Strength 101 series – you can start performing this compound exercise safely and effectively.

Click any link below or scroll down to read the whole guide:

  • What are the benefits of doing squats?
  • How to do a bodyweight squat.
  • How to set up the squat rack for a barbell squat.
  • How to do a barbell squat, step by step
  • How do I bail out of a squat?
  • 6 common mistakes when doing squats.
  • Squat variations (box squat, front squat).
  • How to start squatting like a pro.

What Are the Benefits of Squats?

Squats are one of the most foundational functional movements in our lives. Let’s talk about the benefits and why you should be squatting all the time.

#1) We’re designed to squat: We’ve been squatting since we were babies, but as we get older and sit in unnatural positions all day, our squat form goes from perfect to terrible.

Crap.

In many countries, people often sit in a full squat for hours at a time.

From an evolutionary standpoint – it makes sense that we are genetically designed to, and can be really good at – squatting.

Before modern day furniture and technology you didn’t stop sitting in a full squat once you got older like we do today…you continued squatting your entire life.

#2) Squats are a compound movement that recruit most of our muscles – this means it’s a movement that uses multiple muscle groups and joins (your hip and knee joints) to complete.

A simple bodyweight squat – which I’m demonstrating above – uses almost every muscle in the core and lower body.

If you add a dumbbell or barbell into the equation, I would even argue that they use every single major muscle group to complete.

In addition to every muscle in your “legs,” you need your hips, your back and core, your shoulders and arms. Nothing is left out with this monster movement.

Because of the utilization of a large amount of muscle groups, squats cause your body to increase our anabolic hormone production, helping us lose fat and build muscle.

#3) Squats will help strengthen your bones and your muscles (and your knees!), and can also increase flexibility.

Increasing the strength in your knees and hips (and entire body) reduces your chance of injury while doing both athletic movements and everyday life things (such as shoveling the driveway or standing up and sitting down).

And by learning to squat deeply, safely, you’re improving your range of motion and helping make you antifragile and protecting yourself against future injury.

Bazinga!

If your goals are to:

  • Build muscle and get stronger, squats will get you there faster.
  • Lose weight and get ‘toned,’ squats will get you there faster.
  • Look better naked, squats will get you there faster.
  • Get healthier and happier, squats will get you there faster.
  • Feel like an absolute badass in the gym, squats will get you there faster.

In short, squats are amazing.

(see what I did there?)

My name is Staci Ardison, I’m a Senior Coach at Nerd Fitness, and my life has been absolutely transformed by barbell training, which is why I’m so excited to share this guide with you.

Back in 2011, I could barely pick up a pink dumbbell, and now I regularly compete in powerlifting competitions.

Here I am squatting 253lbs for 3 sets of 5 at a bodyweight of 150 pounds:

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Staci Ardison (@staciardison) on Jun 25, 2019 at 1:47pm PDT

I am so excited to teach you how to squat today, as I’ve taught tons of coaching clients how to get started too.

Want to learn to squat heavy like Coach Staci? Learn more about our online strength coaching program!

Let’s start off by taking a look at the bodyweight squat – the first move you should master before you add weight.

How to Do a Bodyweight Squat With Proper Form

The setup for the squat exercise is incredibly simple.

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips.
  • Your toes should be pointed slightly outward – about 5 to 20 degrees outward (the wider your stance, the more you’ll want to rotate your feet outward).
  • Look straight ahead and pick a spot on the wall in front of you.
  • Look at this spot the entire time you squat, not looking down at the floor or up at the ceiling.

I go over the setup and the full movement in this video:

1) Put your arms straight out in front of you, parallel to the ground. Keep your chest up and proud, and your spine in a neutral position.

2) Your weight is on your feet – it should be on the heels and the balls of your feet, as if they were pasted to the ground. You should be able to wiggle your toes the entire movement (though that’s not a part of squatting!).

3) Keep your entire body tight the entire time, your core flexed like you’re bracing to be punched in the gut!

4) Breathe deeply into your stomach, break at your hip and push your butt back. Keep sending your hips backwards as your knees begin to bend.

It’s important to start with your hips back, and not by bending your knees.

5) As you squat down, focus on keeping your knees in line with your feet.

Many new lifters need to focus on pushing their knees out so they track with their feet.

When your knees start to come inside the toes, push them out (but not wider than your feet).

Make sure your knees aren’t moving inward toward each other through the movement – this is very common.

6) Squat down until your hip joint is lower than your knees (what we call “parallel” in the squat game). Note: if you THINK you might not be squatting deep enough, you probably aren’t!

Once at the bottom, it’s time to stand back up from your squat:

7) Keeping everything tight, breathe out and drive through your heels (keep the balls of your feet on the ground as well).

8) Drive your knees outward (away from each other) the same way you did on the way down, and squeeze your butt at the top to make sure you’re using your glutes.

Here is a video from us nerds at Team Nerd Fitness (with instructions from Jim, lead trainer at our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program) that will teach you good form on a bodyweight squat, including all the mistakes NOT to make:

Once you can do multiple sets of 15+ deep bodyweight squats with proper form, it’s time to move onto barbell squats!

If you are are confident in doing bodyweight squats and want to work up to a barbell squat, follow our Gym Workout Level 4 Program, which includes dumbbell goblet squats, a good stepping stone to barbell squats:

The majority of the population has some sort of mobility issue (including myself!) that they are working on fixing.

We have LOTS of 1-on-1 coaching clients who are new to squatting, and it often comes down to ankle flexibility and hip mobility.

If you spend all day every day sitting in a desk chair, this might be you.

If you want us to help you fix your squat depth and start getting stronger, that’s what we’re here for!

Learn how to squat deep, properly and safely. Learn more about how our coaching program can help:

How to Set Up Properly For The Barbell Back Squat

#1) Find your squat rack! It’ll look something like this, with an unattached barbell:

A. Squat Stand:

B. Power Cage/Squat Rack:

C. Half Rack (Least favorite*):

*I don’t like Half-racks without adjustable safety bars – if you want to squat deep the barbell might hit the immovable bars! Not cool. Aim for the A or B options if you have the choice!

Note: a squat rack is NOT the same thing as a Smith Machine, where the barbell is attached to the machine, and slides up and down two bars:

You do NOT want a Smith Machine.

You need a completely unattached barbell in order to do a barbell squat properly and safely. Don’t squat in a Smith Machine.

#2) Set the height of the bar to be about the same height as your collarbone.

Not sure how to set the height of the bar? I got you:

If your options are either too high or too low, it’s always best to set the pins slightly lower than you need them.

You don’t want to have to get up on your toes to rack/unrack the bar, especially as the weight gets heavier.

#3) Decide if you are going to do a high bar squat, or a low bar squat. Either is fine, but there IS a difference:

The “Low Bar Back Squat” is the most common form done by beginners, general lifters, and powerlifters.

It’s also the form taught in Starting Strength, one of the best books for beginners on the market.

So we’ll be focusing on that version for the rest of this section:

#4) Always squat with just the bar to start – as we discuss in “How much weight should I be lifting,” even if you’re planning on squatting 500 lbs, always start with just the bar!

How to Do a Proper Barbell Back Squat, Step By Step

1) Facing the bar, step under it, and put your hands around it on either side of you.

For this type of squat in our example, we are going to want a thumbless grip, so that our wrists are properly aligned with our forearms.

The width of your grip will be dependent on flexibility, but generally a narrower (hands closer to your shoulers) grip will help create a meaty shelf for you to place the bar on the muscles in your upper back.

If you lack the flexibility for the narrower grip (which is super common), start out wider, then slowly bring it in as you get more flexible.

See the difference here between a “high bar, wrapped grip” (Left) and “low bar, thumbless grip” (right):

And now time to DO A BARBELL BACK SQUAT!

Definitely watch the video above and listen to the instructions, and then read this description when you need to restart:

  1. With the weight on your shoulders, step back from the supports.
  2. Your feet should be slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  3. Your toes should be slightly pointing outward.
  4. Flex your stomach, squeeze your glutes, inhale deeply into your stomach.
  5. Move your butt back, squat down slowly.
  6. Continue to drop until the tops of your legs are parallel or lower (the crease of your hip is below your waist).
  7. Explode back up to the starting position.
  8. After your set is complete, walk carefully forward to return the weight to the rack, and lower it down safely onto the supports.
  9. High five yourself, you just did a barbell squat!

Not sure if you squatted deep enough?

Record yourself! 95% of the people I see doing squats in a gym don’t go deep enough!

Nervous about squatting correctly? Yes, I am a mind reader, and yes we can help you!

If you want an expert to check your squat form check out our 1-on-1 Coaching program. Our coaching app lets you record and send a video of your movement directly to your coach, who will provide specific feedback and build a custom program just for you.

Interested? Click below to jump on a free call with our team to see how our online coaching program will get you the results you’re after:

Let us check your squat form! We’ll also build you a killer strength training program. Learn more:

How To Bail Out of a Squat Safely

If you are going to squat, you have to know how to “fail” at squatting safely! After all, there’s nothing more scary than being stuck in the bottom of a squat movement and not knowing how to get out of there!

A squat is very different from a barbell deadlift in that aspect: if you fail on a deadlift, you just don’t pick up the weight.

If you fail on a squat, you’re trapped under a bar with potentially a lot of weight on it.

This can lead to SERIOUS injury. So please, learn how to bail out of a squat safely before you start attempting to do heavy barbell squats.

This will help give you the confidence to push yourself and get stronger!

Want help getting strong as hell? Let our coaches build a custom strength program for you:

6 Common Mistakes When Doing Squats

The squat is a basic movement, but those new to lifting often fall victim to a handful of common mistakes.

Let’s take a look at some of the big problems and how to fix it!

#1) Coming up on your toes with your knees forward during your squat

It’s important to keep your heels on the ground the entire time you’re squatting.

You should be driving down through your heels, and in order to do that, they need to be on the ground!

While some of your weight will be on the balls of your feet, you never want all of your weight to be on the balls of your feet or your toes.

You should be able to lift your toes up off the ground and wiggle them at any point and it shouldn’t change anything about your squat.

#2) Not going deep enough on your squats

Your squat should hit at least parallel (middle image above) – where your hip joint goes below the knee.

Depending on what you’re training for, you can go lower, but in order to maximize the muscles worked in the squat, it needs to be done to at least parallel or lower (you can see lower in the upper right image).

If you squat above parallel (a partial squat) you’re leaving the hamstrings out of the movement. This puts more pressure on the knee – the force put on your knee is actually reduced as you drop below parallel.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misunderstanding about squats and knee issues.

The deeper the squat, the more glutes that are activated as well. Deeper is typically harder, both strength and flexibility wise.

However, depending on your goals, squatting to parallel may make more sense.

If you’re struggling hitting depth there could be many causes – you could have poor ankle mobility, tight hip flexors and/or hamstrings, weak glutes, or poor pelvic alignment (among many other things).

This is something we work closely with our coaching clients on, and often prescribe ankle and hip mobility drills to help clients reach proper depth on squats!

#3) Knee Positioning

When you squat, you want your knees to track along with your toes.

This means if you are looking down at your knees and feet, your knees should be aligned at the same angle as your feet throughout the movement.

Everyone’s exact positioning is going to be slightly different, but they should not be on the outside or the inside of the foot.

#4) Back Positioning

Your chest should be up and shoulders should be back, like you’re King Kong about to pound your chest proudly.

Your body should stay in this position the entire time.

You don’t want your shoulders to round forward, but you also don’t want to hyperextend your back either.

Keeping your spine in a neutral position will help your spine safe and build a strong foundation throughout the heavy squat movement.

#5) Head Positioning

Many coaches will tell their lifters to look up, as that is the direction in which you want to be moving, but this is actually the last thing you want to do.

Take a second quick and look at the ceiling (I’ll wait! 🙂 ).

Now, see that position your neck vertebrae are in? That is a very unsafe position for your spine to be in, especially when weight starts getting included in the equation.

You also don’t want to be looking directly at the floor.

Look straight out in front of you the entire time, with your head in a “neutral” position. Your chin should be in a position where you could hold a tennis ball between your chest and your chin.

#6) Too much weight on the heels/on the outside or inside of feet during your squat

When trying to fix coming up on your toes, or your knee positioning, it is common for people to focus so much on keeping their weight on their heels that they forget to keep the balls of their feet on the ground!

Some of your weight will still be on the ball of your foot – if you are truly only having weight on your heels, it’s pretty hard to balance.

To the same effect, if the inside of your foot or the outside of your foot comes up off the floor, this is also not a good thing!

How do you know if you’re making these mistakes? Simple!

Record yourself doing squats.

I do.

And so does anybody else who is serious about improving their squats.

Often we look VERY different than we think we look when doing an exercise, so having a video of the movement is often the only way we can improve.

If you can’t self-diagnose your squat challenges, let us help!

Let us check your form and teach you to squat properly! Learn more about our Coaching Program:

Squat Variations for Beginners:

In this section, we’re going to go over some squat variations to help you improve your form and build confidence before hitting the free weights section of the gym.

If you’re struggling to do a squat correctly, don’t fret!

I’m going to teach you about…

BOX SQUATS!

Squatting to a box will help teach you to sit back and keep your weight on your entire foot, instead of squatting with your knees forward and up on your toes.

Squatting back to a box is also great for people who have bad knees and can’t do bodyweight squats anymore.

You can do box squats with a barbell as well, but for this explanation, we’re just going to keep it simple with bodyweight box squats.

In order to do this, find a box or a chair that is the right height so when you sit on it, you are at parallel with your squat.

Your options include things like step stools, milk crates, or the smallest box at the gym (there’s usually a set of plyo boxes, and the shortest is around 10″.)

The lower the box, the more it will help you develop stronger hips and low back – the box at exactly parallel will help you more with quad strength.

Set up exactly as if you were going to do a regular bodyweight squat, only standing about a foot in front of the box.

1) Breathe in deeply, brace your core, move butt back, and keep your knees in line tracking in the same direction as your toes and squat back until you sit completely on the box.

Don’t plop back on the box, make it slow and deliberate while keeping your entire body tight.

2) Now, don’t move! Think about your positioning:

  • Are your back and core still super tight?
  • Is your weight on your heels and your mid foot?
  • Is your head in a neutral position?

Great, now stand up by driving your hips upward, don’t let your weight shift forward and onto your toes (drive through your heels!), shoulders and chest up, knees out keeping them lined up with your toes.

For your first few, feel free to sit on the box while you evaluate your positioning, but as you get better at them, sit back and then quickly stand up again.

You know you’re doing a good squat when you can stand back up from the bottom of a squat position without having to lean forward and use momentum to get up.

You can squat, touch your butt to the box, and then stand back up without having to shift your weight around!

KEEP THAT BUTT BACK!

And if you’re up for a similar-but-different squat, try…

The barbell front squat!

A front squat moves the weight from behind you to in front of you, which requires different muscles and mobility in different places.

I personally alternate front squats and back squats on my leg days.

Make sure you read our full guide on how to do a proper front squat.

I know all of this can be overwhelming, so the important thing is that you START! I realize I sound like a broken record at this point, but I really want you to begin strength training today.

We created our free guide, Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know, just for that purpose. I’d love to send it to you, because I know it’ll help you overcome any fears and confusion and have you getting stronger TODAY

Get it when you sign up in this box below – I’m excited to hear what you think of it!

Download our comprehensive guide STRENGTH TRAINING 101!

  • Everything you need to know about getting strong.
  • Workout routines for bodyweight AND weight training.
  • How to find the right gym and train properly in one.

How to Start Squatting Like A Pro

Squats are awesome.

How awesome? This kid dropped into a perfect squat just to impress his bunny friend.

Once you’ve mastered the Back Squat, give Front Squats a try!

And if you want to learn more about squats, or you’re looking to build more confidence before you get started, we have a few options for you:

1) If you are somebody that wants to follow a tailor-made program that designed around their life and goals, check out our popular 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program.

You’ll work with our certified NF instructors who will get to know you better than you know yourself, check your form, and program your workouts and nutrition for you.

Get step-by-step instruction, form checks, and worldwide accountability in your pocket! Learn about our Coaching Program

2) Good at following instructions and want a blueprint to follow? Check out our self-paced online course, the Nerd Fitness Academy.

20+ workouts for both bodyweight or weight training, a benchmark test to determine your starting workout, HD demonstrations of every movement, boss battles, nutritional leveling system, a questing system, and supportive community.

Learn more about The Nerd Fitness Academy!

3) Download our free Strength 101 Guide, which you can get when you sign up in the box below:

Download our comprehensive guide STRENGTH TRAINING 101!

  • Everything you need to know about getting strong.
  • Workout routines for bodyweight AND weight training.
  • How to find the right gym and train properly in one.

And I’d love to hear from you! PLEASE leave your questions, squat or fitness or otherwise below so we can answer them and become best friends:

What struggles do you have when trying to squat?

What questions do you have?

If you haven’t squatted before, what else do you need us to tell you to give you the confidence to start squatting TODAY!?

-Staci

PS: Be sure to check out the rest of the Strength Training 101 series:

  • Strength Training 101: How to Get Strong
  • How to Find the Right Gym
  • 6 Beginner Gym Workouts: A Beginners Guide to the Gym
  • Beginner Strength Workouts
  • How Much Weight Should I Be lifting?
  • How to Do Inverted Rows
  • How to Do a Front Squat
  • How to Do The Bench Press
  • How to Do The Overhead Press
  • How to Do The Deadlift

PPS: I typed this whole article while sitting in a squat. Okay, no I didn’t, but that would have been cool.

photo source: Barbell Squat, Jordan Colley Visuals: bunny squat, power rack, squat stand, squat rack,

7 Types of Squats for a Better Butt

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Most females would agree that having a great butt to show off in a bikini, daisy dukes, and skinny jeans would be pretty awesome. Are you happy with the way your booty looks? If not, we are about to give you 7 fabulous new ways to give yourself a natural butt lift while firming and shaping, too! Try out our 7 Types of Squats for a Better Butt to start seeing changes!

Types of Squats for a Better Butt

Take it from us, these squats will work your glutes better than cardio ever could! You shouldn’t be doing the same type of squats every time you workout. Hitting the glutes from different angles will ensure that you build a perfectly shaped bottom! These 7 types of squats were chosen because they range from easy to difficult and can be modified for beginners or performed with a heavier weight to make them more difficult. We’ve included instructional videos for each type of squat at the bottom of this post.

Challenge Yourself: Perform 50-100 Squats each day! You can do them all at once or break it up throughout the day! Pick a different type to perform every day!

1. Body Weight Squats

This is just a regular squat with zero exercise equipment. There are no dumbbells, barbells, or kettle-bells involved. Just get into basic squat form, feet hip width apart, feet slightly pointed out, squat down to where your knees reach a 90 degree angle and then try to maintain the weight through your heels as you push yourself back up to start. Remember to not lean forward and to maintain a flat back throughout the exercise. Your knees should never track over your toes.

2. Plie (Sumo) Squats

In this squat your feet need to be wider than hip width apart with your feet angled significantly outward. Same rules of a regular squat apply to this one. Remember to push through your heels as this will keep the focus in your glutes! Be sure to keep your back in line. For Plie squats, your knees will be pointed outward. This is going to target your inner thighs and give your booty a lift. If you need to make it more difficult, grab some weights or a kettle-bell!

3. Pulse Squats

Get into basic squat form and once you reach the bottom of the squat, instead of coming all the way back up only come half way up, and then lower back down into the squat. Repeat this multiple times to “pulse”. You will really feel the burn with this one!

4. Plyometric Squats

This type of squat will really get your heart rate up. You use the same rule of form as a body weight squat, but instead when you get to the bottom of the squat, you are going to explode up and land softly on your toes. Try to control each movement from start to finish for the duration of the exercise.

5. Single Leg Squats

This type of squat is done on one leg. You’re going to lift your left leg either behind you or keep it as straight as possible in front of you while you squat down on your right leg. If you’re just beginning, you can hold on to something or use a chair to learn the movement. Again, try to keep your weight in your heel to hit the booty. If you’ve mastered the movement, hold on to some extra weight!

6. Goblet Squats

This squat is done in more of a Plie form with feet wider than hip width apart and feet angled slightly outward. You can use a kettle-bell or one big heavy dumbbell. Hold the kettle-bell or the head of the dumbbell at chest level. Slowly sink down into the squat as you thrust your weight back up through your heels.

7. Barbell Back Squats

This type of squat is a pretty advanced exercise that needs to be done in the gym. Put the barbell on your shoulders, mostly laying on your trapezius muscle, or the “traps”. Keep your chest out and your head up. This squat is done with normal squat form, but the reason it is more advanced is because it allows you to add a lot of weight. Keep in mind that heavier weight will make you more shapely as well as stronger!

Watch the instructional video below for correct form!

Which type of squat is your favorite? Let us know in the comment section, below! Keep in mind that consistency is key. In order to build and shape your booty, you need to perform these squats routinely.

You might also enjoy the Perfect Butt Workout or these 6 Best Squat-Free Booty Exercises.

Be sure to like our Facebook page and follow us on Pinterest and Instagram to be the first to try out new workouts and view our latest fitness resources.

The Sumo Squat Is the Best Squat Exercise for Your Inner Thighs

It goes without saying: Squats are great. The classic lower-body exercise is an essential functional movement pattern not only for maintaining strong legs but for making it through life injury-free. But only doing regular squats is like going your whole life only drinking one kind of smoothie—it’ll get the job done, but you’re missing out on the awesome benefits (and fun!) of all the other variations.

Enter, the sumo squat: the super-wide version of the basic bodyweight squat demonstrated here by NYC-based trainer Rachel Mariotti. It’s one of many squat variations you can add to your lower-body workout routine-but one of the most worthwhile. Here’s why.

Sumo Squat Benefits and Variations

“The sumo squat is a great lower-body strength exercise that emphasizes the muscles of the inner thigh, as well as the glutes, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, and calves,” says Lisa Niren, head instructor for Studio.

It’s a surprise core exercise too. “Based on your core strength, you might find the sumo squat adds an additional challenge to your balance because your body is in a different alignment and needs extra stability to keep from moving forward and back on the heels,” says Niren.

Once you’ve mastered the bodyweight version, you can load it up. Choose between weights (dumbbells or kettlebells) either in a racked position (in front of/over your shoulders) or use one weight and hold it with both hands hanging between your legs, says Christi Marraccini, trainer at NEO U in New York City. As you become more comfortable with the sumo squat, you can load up a barbell and perform them the same way you would do a barbell back squat. Bonus: You can likely handle even heavier weight in a sumo squat than a traditional squat.

For an added bonus (or to make it harder when you’re at home or don’t have weights), loop a mini resistance band around both legs just above the knee, says Heidi Jones, Fortë trainer and founder of Squad WOD. (Then bang out these other lower-body resistance band exercises.)

How to Do a Sumo Squat

A. Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out at about 45 degrees.

B. Inhale to sit hips back and lower into a squat, clasping hands in front of chest, keeping core engaged and back neutral.

C. Pause at the bottom, when hips are in line with knees or when form starts to break. Shins should be vertical and knees should be tracking over (but past) toes.

D. Exhale to press into heels and outer edge of foot to stand.

Do 12 to 15 reps at a medium weight. Try 4 sets.

Sumo Squat Form Tips

  • Make sure knees don’t cave in and heels don’t come off of the floor. (If this happens, you are going too low.)
  • If weight is in the racked position, keep elbows up. If weight is between legs, keep chest up.
  • By Lauren Mazzo @lauren_mazzo

Sumo Squat Exercises to Strengthen Your Inner Thighs

Our inner thigh muscles are the group of muscles that close, or adduct, our legs together.

These adductors help us maintain balance and stabilize the hips. Many exercises and movements that focus on larger muscle groups miss this area. So what’s the answer when your goal is to tone your inner thighs?

There are dozens of exercises that can isolate the inner thighs. If you’re looking to incorporate movements that are more well-rounded and time-efficient without skipping smaller muscle groups, these squat variations can be a nice addition to your lower body routine.

Traditional Sumo Squats

Sumo squats differ from traditional squats in the positioning of the feet.

With a traditional squat, the toes are pointing forward or slightly angled out. In a sumo squat, the feet are placed wider and the toes are angled out away from the midline of the body. This creates a new challenge due to foot positioning changing your base of support.

Equipment needed: For advanced levels of fitness, you will need a dumbbell or a kettlebell, but these can also be performed without any weight if needed.

Muscles worked: Quadriceps, gluteus muscles, hips, hamstrings, calves, and inner thighs.

  1. Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Give yourself a few feet and stand wide.
  2. Angle the toes out and away from the center of your body.
  3. Bend the knees and the hips to lower into your squat, squeezing your glutes at the bottom of the move.
  4. Be mindful to keep your back neutral and long, drawing the tailbone straight down to the floor each time. Avoid allowing your knees to go out beyond your toes or allowing your upper torso to lean forward.
  5. Once lowered, press up to standing, driving up through your heels.
  6. Start with 3 sets of 8-12 reps.

Advanced

As you progress, you can use a dumbbell held lengthwise or a kettlebell. Hold with 2 hands while extending your arms long, letting it hang down the center of your body. Be careful not to increase your weight on this movement too fast. With the feet in this position, it’s wise to start conservative with your weight choice and slowly increase resistance.

Plié Squats with an Inner Thigh Pull In

The plié squat is the same as the sumo squat, and they are often interchanged. This variation adds a little extra work to the inner thigh adductors and glutes.

Equipment needed: No equipment is necessary. You can use a glider under your foot to help move your feet together.

Muscles worked: This movement pattern strengthens the quadriceps, gluteus muscles, hips, hamstrings, and calves with an extra focus on inner thighs and abductors.

  1. Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Give yourself a few feet and stand wide without overextending.
  2. Place a glider under 1 foot.
  3. Angle the toes out and away from the center of your body in a natural turned out position.
  4. Bend the knees and the hips to lower into your squat, squeezing your glutes at the bottom of the move.
  5. Be mindful to keep your back neutral and long, drawing the tailbone straight down to the floor each time. Avoid allowing your knees to go out beyond your toes or allowing your upper torso to lean forward.
  6. Once lowered, start to return to standing but drag your left heel in toward the center to bring your heels together, finishing standing tall and squeezing your thighs together.
  7. Slide back out with the same side and lower back into the plié squat position.
  8. Start with 3 sets of 8 on each leg.

Goblet Squats

The goblet squat, like the sumo squat, focuses on not only quadriceps but the inner thighs and our posterior chain as well. This squat variation is a great addition to a lower body routine to strengthen and tone the legs.

It does require some moderate flexibility to perform correctly. Practicing this move without weight to begin is recommended.

Equipment needed: none (you can add a kettlebell or dumbbell later)

Muscles worked: quadriceps, gluteus muscle group, hips, calves, and hamstrings

  1. Stand with feet just slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward or slightly turned out.
  2. As you lower into your squat position, keep your feet planted and pry the knees out and away.
  3. Keep the weight in your heels and your spine feeling tall and long.
  4. Shoulders should stay back and down.
  5. Pausing at the bottom, squeeze your glute muscles and push back up to standing without leaning forward.
  6. Start with 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

As you grow stronger in this movement pattern, you can start to add weight to hold through your sets.

The Takeaway

Compound movements like squats are an efficient way to strengthen your body. They target many muscle groups with the same exercise, teaching your body to coordinate movements that involve many muscle groups.

Adding moves to strengthen your inner thighs will improve your overall balance and help protect the hips from injury when performing other intense or heavy exercise. Using a variety of exercises, rather than the same ones over and over, is key to true body balance.

As with any exercise routine, check with a doctor first and obtain some basic gym equipment instruction from a qualified trainer to make sure you are performing with correct form. Learning correct exercise form before adding weight is the safest way to build strength quickly.

How to Do a Sumo Squat

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Few other moves engage as many muscles below the waist as the traditional squat, making it one of the most effective exercises for building lower body strength and power. So you may wonder, “Is the sumo squat just messing with perfection?” Turns out that variety isn’t just the spice of life — it will also keep your workouts interesting and effective, explains Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., senior fitness and nutrition content manager for Openfit.

Ready to up your squat game? Step outside your comfort zone (a.k.a. hip- to shoulder-width position) and into a sumo squat.

Step up your squat game with Openfit’s 600 Seconds program. Get started for free today!

Sumo Squat Instructions

  • Stand with your feet wider than your shoulders and your arms at your sides. Turn your feet slightly outward. This is the starting position.
  • Keeping your chest up and core engaged, push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. As you squat down, bring your hands together in front of your chest.
  • Pause, and then return to the starting position.

How to Make the Sumo Squat Easier

If you find the bodyweight sumo squat too challenging, you can make it easier by decreasing your range of motion — only drop a quarter to a half of the way down.

How to Make the Sumo Squat Harder

You can increase the difficulty of the sumo squat by adding resistance. To do a dumbbell sumo squat, hold two dumbbells of equal weight in front of your waist with straight arms, and lower them between your legs as you lower your body. Alternatively, you can perform a goblet sumo squat: Hold a kettlebell by the horns (i.e., each side of the handle) or single dumbbell (cup one end in both hands) at chest height. Yet another option is the barbell sumo squat, performed with a barbell held securely across your upper back and shoulders.

No access to weights? Challenge yourself by slowing down the pace of the movement or pausing for two to four seconds at the bottom of the squat.

Benefits of the Sumo Squat

“If your workout program only contains one kind of squat, you’re shortchanging your lower-body strength gains,” he says. Incorporating the sumo squat into your workouts will still give you all the benefits of a standard squat, plus a few more.

Squatting is a basic functional movement — you do it every time you sit in a chair, pickup something off the floor (at least you should), or visit the loo. So it makes sense to learn correct form and strengthen all of the muscles required to do it. Beyond reinforcing proper squatting mechanics (e.g., flat back, chest up, initiating the movement by pushing the hips back, etc.), the sumo squat can help build strength and muscle mass in the glutes, quads, and inner thighs. And if you want to improve the definition of your butt and legs, you need to enhance the musculature of your glutes and quads.

When performed in high volume, the sumo squat is a great movement option for a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. Because the move recruits multiple large muscle groups in the legs, glutes, and core, its calorie-burning potential is high.

Sumo Squats vs. Regular Squats

The difference between the sumo and the traditional squat comes down to foot placement. Proper sumo squat form requires the feet to be wider than shoulder-width, and the toes to be turned slightly away from the body.

Like the traditional squat, the sumo works the quads and glutes, but its wider stance offers an additional advantage. “The sumo squat also emphasizes your inner thigh adductors, which are responsible for moving your legs toward the midline of your body,” says Thieme.

What Muscles Does the Sumo Squat Work?

1. Quads

The quadriceps are four distinct muscles on the front of your thighbone (femur) that are responsible for straightening your leg: the rectus femoris, the vastus lateralis, the vastus medialis, and the vastus intermedius.

2. Glutes

These are your butt muscles. The gluteus maximus, which is the largest of the three, is the one most responsible for the shape and prominence of your backside, as well as extension of the leg. The gluteus medius, located toward the outer edges of your rear, handles lateral rotation and abduction (extension out to the sides) of your leg. Finally, the gluteus minimus similarly rotates the leg, and also helps to stabilize the pelvis.

3. Adductors

These ropy muscles on the insides of your thighs are responsible for bringing your legs together.

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Sumo Squat – vs – Regular Squat

Firstly; the most obvious difference between a sumo squat and a regular squat is your foot position. With a regular squat your feet are positioned around shoulder width apart (or just outside of), with toes and knees facing forward. Whereas in a sumo squat, you will have a much wider stance, with your toes and knees pointing outwards.

It should be noted that from a muscle building perspective; both variations are undoubtedly powerful. They are equally excellent compound exercises which ultimately provide you with maximum muscle building potential in minimum movement.

All squats will activate and engage glutes, quads, hamstrings and core muscles. At the same time a sumo squat will place additional emphasis on your inner thighs (adductors) and for some squatters; glute engagement is easier to achieve on a sumo squat.

In contrast to the above, some may find that they get better abdominal engagement on a regular squat. Therefore it could be argued that the regular squat is superior when it comes to building your core stability.

As a final consideration in the sumo squat vs regular squat debate; squatters with lower back issues may find the sumo stance less aggravating.

Taking the above into consideration; how will you choose which one is best for you?

The squat has been crowned as ‘the king of all exercises’ by many because of its undeniable ability to make your muscles grow faster and stronger in less time than other popular compound movements, and this is why it’s a part of the training routines of pro athletes and average gym-goers alike. In fact, athletes from every sport and discipline use some version of this exercise to tone their legs and abs, strengthen their core and improve their overall performance.

Since squats primarily target the legs which are a large muscle group, they create an anabolic environment by triggering the release of testosterone and human growth hormone, which stimulates muscle growth in the entire body. Also, squats work almost every muscle at the same time, engaging your legs to handle the weight, the core to stabilize the trunk and every other muscle to help the torso maintain balance.

Finally, research has shown that squats are amazing for building greater power and mobility, as well as preventing injury in people of any age. Performing full depth squats can help correct a number of imbalances, disorders and weaknesses in the musculoskeletal system, such as weak glutes and a hunched back.

There are many versions of the regular squat that you can include in your training routine to increase your gains in a specific body part and today we’ll discuss the sumo squat, which may be the best exercise for building strength in the glutes and inner thighs.

The sumo squat differs from the regular one in the positioning of the feet, which naturally leads to a different muscle emphasis. When performing a regular squat, the feet are placed hip-width apart with toes facing forward, while during a sumo squat, the feet are in a wide stance with toes turned out. Though both versions work the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors and calves, sumo squats place more stress on the inner thigh adductors and glutes.

Regardless of which squat version you choose to do, make sure you perform the entire movement in a slow, controlled manner for optimal results.

Mastering the regular squat

The only way to place the greatest workload on the right muscles, prevent knee and back pain and injury and harness all the benefits of this powerful exercise is by mastering the proper form and technique.

When performing a regular squat, stand up straight and place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees and knees over ankles. Roll the shoulders down, straighten your back and extend the arms until they’re parallel with the ground to help maintain balance. Inhale and bend your knees, bringing the hips backwards as if you were sitting back into a chair. Keep bringing the hips backwards until your thighs are parallel to the floor, or even lower. At the bottom of the squat, the knees should be directly over your toes. Also, it’s of vital importance to keep your back straight and neutral (keeping the head facing forward with eyes straight ahead will help you with this) and your feet anchored firmly to the ground all throughout the movement. Exhale, engage your core and press through the heels to return to a standing position.

Upgrading to the sumo squat

After you master the regular squat, you can switch to the sumo version.

Stand with your feet significantly wider than shoulder-width apart and toes turned out at an angle of 45 degrees. Inhale, bend your knees and push your hips back while keeping the chest up, abs tight and back straight. As you lower yourself down, extend your hands until they meet under your chin to help you maintain balance. The weight should be concentrated in the glutes and inner thighs. Once your thighs are parallel to the floor, exhale and push your body back up through the heels. Again, don’t let your heels lose contact with the floor, keep the knees parallel with the toes and keep your whole back perfectly straight throughout the entire movement.

Only after you’ve mastered the sumo squat with perfect form, you can use added resistance to increase the challenge and build stronger muscles. You can do this by holding a barbell behind your head and across your upper back and shoulders for a back squat, having the barbell rest on your chest and the front of your shoulders for a front squat or holding the barbell overhead for an overhead squat.

Another option is to hold one dumbbell with both hands in front of you when performing the sumo squat, or you can hold a dumbbell or a kettlebell in the center of your chest with both hands to perform a goblet squat. Using a kettlebell lets you have a larger range of motion, resulting with a deeper muscle activation.

Utilizing Squat Variations!

The squat is a very powerful exercise. It is one of the only exercises that will work 75% of your muscles with one, single movement. The squat should be one of the primary movements in any leg workout. There are many varieties of squat that can be performed to make workouts interesting and prevent plateaus or stagnation.


The Traditional Squat

The traditional squat should be one of the first squat techniques to learn. In this movement, the bar is placed high on the back. This is sometimes known as the bodybuilding squat. The shoulder blades should be retracted to help support the bar. Wrists can either be rigid or extended power-lifter style, depending on flexibility. Keeping the elbows beneath the wrists can be important, because outside of this position, the shoulder may rotate. This can impinge the rotator cuff and may actually pinch a nerve and make the arm go numb for some people.

Stance is just about shoulder width. Foot orientation is “natural”. When you are standing casually, this is “natural”. Most people will find that the feet are pointed slightly outwards. This is fine – in fact, forcing the feet to point straight ahead can place enormous torque on the knee joint and cause injury. I have had surgery on my right anterior cruciat ligament, and as a result, my right foot is exaggerated – it points at about 2 o’clock. This is my natural stance – right foot pointed more than the left – because the surgery has altered my leg alignment. Trying to force my leg into an unnatural alignment would only cause injury.


Traditional Barbell Squat.

There is much debate about proper alignment of the hips when performing a squat. Slight lordosis is typically recommended – this means the back curves inward slightly and is not rounded. This engages the spinal erectae, or muscles that protect the spine. A neutral hip position can also be used. For the neutral hip position, you simply rotate the top of the pelvis back and bottom of the pelvis forward to flatten the back. Do not exaggerate this movement – too much of a “thrust” and the back will round – just use enough rotation to make the back neutral. Keeping the head facing straight ahead with respect to the torso rather than looking up or down also helps align the spine and protect it from injury.

Descend as if you are sitting in a chair. A common mistake is to allow the knees to bend so far that they extend well beyond the toes. The bodybuilding squat places a bit of stress on the knee joint, and the farther the knees track forward, the more stress is placed upon the joint. By “sitting back” so the weight is transferred through the heels rather than the toes, you assure that tension is on the quadriceps more than the knee joint. It takes balance and flexibility to execute this movement correctly. Some people place their heels on blocks. While this improves balance, it is a compromise for lack of ankle flexibility. A better approach would be to address the root cause (lack of ankle flexibility) through stretching, rather than to eliminate the symptom by using blocks.

Descend as far as you can go without the knees tracking forward excessively or the torso bending too far forward. Most people through practice and with appropriate flexibility can descend to thighs parallel or beyond. There is nothing wrong with going below parallel if you are healthy and your flexibility and strength allow this full range of motion. If your torso begins to bend forward, beyond 20 – 40 degrees or thereabouts, you are at the limit of your range and should stop the movement. Excessive “lean” simply places extra stress on the lower back and can lead to injury. Try to maintain the torso as erect as possible – perfectly vertical is ideal but a slight angle is common.


Powerlifting Squat

If you place the bar farther down your back – below the deltoids and across the rhomboid – you are using a power-lifting squat. Stance is usually a bit wider than shoulder width. Torso lean will be more pronounced due to the shift in center of gravity. The power-lifting squat places more stress on the lower back and less stress on the knee joint.


Powerlifting Squat.

Again, descend as if “sitting back into a chair” and let your body dictate the proper range of motion. Shooting for parallel is ideal but do not exceed your body’s parameters – if your ankle flexibility, lower back strength, or other factors prohibit the full range of motion, then an abbreviated range is necessary until the supporting muscles are strong and flexible.


Athletic Squat

A bar position between the previous two is known as the athletic squat. This is a compromise between the bodybuilding and power-lifting varieties of squat.


Athletic Squat.

The athletic squat is a trade-off between stress on the knee joint and stress on the lower back, and is a great movement to use in various phases of training.

Sumo Squat

Taking an excessively wide stance is necessary to perform the sumo squat. Do not try to keep your legs pointed forward during this movement. If you try to bend at the knee with a wide stance and feet pointed forward, your leg will twist at the knee joint. This not only stresses the joint, but also stretches the ligaments and can injure them.


Sumo Squat.

Feet should point farther out than your natural stance, so that the leg bends in a plane that does not allow twist or excessive torque on the knee joint. The sumo squat will employ more muscles in the inside of the thigh than the traditional squat.

Box Squat

Another variation of the traditional squat is the box squat. In this movement, you squat until you are sitting on a platform or box. This is typically placed just at or above parallel. It is essential that you transfer all weight to the platform, pause, and then drive upwards. This technique works the weakest range of motion by forcing you to have a “cold start” from the bottom. Squeeze the glutes to drive upward and keep the torso as vertical as possible (many people make the mistake of leaning forward before driving up from the platform, and this may lead to injury).

Box Squat.

The box squat will employ more of your hamstrings and glutes than a traditional squat, but helps strengthen the weakest range of motion and is sure to help you increase your maximum squat poundage. By transferring your weight completely to the platform, you eliminate the “stretch-shortening cycle” which uses “recoil” or “spring” energy to help drive back up from the bottom of a traditional squat.

Ski Squat

Squatting against the wall is known as the ski squat. Step about 2 feet away from a way, take a natural stance, then lean back onto the wall. Support that position for 20 – 60 seconds. It is important to work this movement through all ranges of motion, because you will only gain strength in the range that you are working.


Ski Squat

A common practice is to keep the start position, then slide downward a few inches and maintain that position for 20 – 60 seconds, then slide down again, etc, until you finish the last “rep” at parallel or below.

Front Squat

A front squat involves placing the bar across the anterior deltoids or the front of your shoulders. If you have sufficient wrist flexibility, you can grasp the bar and allow the fingers to bend back towards your body to support the bar. Many people lack this flexibility and must use an alternate method. This involves crossing the arms and then lifting them to support the bar. The front squat forces the torso to remain nearly vertical.


Front Barbell Squat.

The location of the bar shifts the center of gravity and assures that more tension is placed on the quadriceps. Because most people lack the upper body strength to handle heavier weights, this movement is typically a periphery movement – not enough weight can be loaded to make it an effective primary movement.

Plie Squat

Stand on the bench and grasp a single dumbbell. Now, taking a wide stance, squat down with the dumbbell dangling between your legs. Lower yourself as far as your flexibility and balance permit, and then drive back up to just short of lockout. This is known as a plie squat.

Plie Squat.

Like the sumo squat, it can help work muscles in the inner and outer thighs that don’t receive as much attention in the traditional squat. The advantage of a plie squat is increased range of motion when you are elevated on a bench.

Jump Squat

If you explode upward during a squat and even jump from the ground, you are performing a jump squat. This is a great neurological movement – it will improve explosive and overall strength.

Jump Squat.

It forces the muscle fibers to fire in unison, and improves the efficiency by which your central nervous system uses your leg muscles. This is a great movement for people in explosive sports like basketball or track.

Breathing Squat

Squats can be incorporated into mega-sets that will not only induce muscle growth and burn a tremendous amount of calories, but will improve your cardiovascular health as well. These squats are known as “breathing squats.” You perform about 10 rhythmic repetitions, exhaling as you ascend and inhaling as you descend. After the 10th rep, you take an extra breath between reps (i.e. down + breathe in, up + breathe out, breathe in, breathe out, down + breathe in, etc.)

After about 5 more reps like this, take two breaths between reps, etc. It is important not to perform breathing squats with a light weight – these are only to be employed when required to obtain extra repetitions. If you use this technique without sufficient weight, you can actually hyperventilate and become dizzy or pass out!

One-Legged Squat (King Squat)

While there are many, many more variations of the squat, the last squat that I would like to mention is the “King squat” or one-legged squat. Ian King takes credit for this movement. Take a natural stance. Now, take one leg and extend it out so it is as close to parallel with the ground as your flexibility and strength permit. If possible, grab your toe with your same-side arm (you may not be flexible enough to do this).

One-Legged Squat (King Squat).

Eventually, try to perform this movement “free standing” but to start, take the opposite arm and grasp a frame or pole to balance yourself. Now, using the leg planted on the ground, lower yourself as far as you can go without your raised leg touching the ground or losing balance. This is the one legged squat and is a great exercise to address weak-side issues (work the weak side first and don’t exceed weak-side reps with the strong side) and also to improve flexibility and overall leg strength.

Conclusion

The squat should be a staple of leg training, but there are plenty of varieties to keep training challenging and interesting. This movement places so much stress on the body and works so many muscles at once that it has been shown to affect your hormones! Many people report growth in all areas of their body – including their arms – simply by performing heavy squats. The squat is not only a strength and hypertrophy (muscle growth) exercise, but can provide a great cardiovascular workout as well. The squat will be a key tool in your quest for your peak physique!

Be sure to also check out:
Ten Fat Mistakes!

Why the Goblet Squat Is the Best Type of Squat for Young Athletes

Read More >>

The Goblet Squat is a lower-body exercise in which you hold a dumbbell or kettlebell with both hands in front of your chest. It’s the ideal Squat variation to teach young athletes proper squat technique; however it can be used to build strength for everyone.

  1. Goblet Squat Form
  2. Goblet Squat Mistakes
  3. Goblet Squat Benefits
  4. Goblet Squat Muscles Worked
  5. Goblet Squat Alternatives and Variations
  6. Goblet Squat Workouts

Goblet Squat Form

The beauty of the Goblet Squat is that it’s incredibly easy to perform—even for beginners and young athletes. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Stand with your feet between hip- and shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell vertically with your hands underneath the top of the weight. Hold the weight against your body so it’s touching your sternum and stomach.

Step 2: Keeping your core tight, back flat and dumbbell or kettlebell in contact with your body, bend your hips and knees to initiate the Squat and continue until your elbows touch your knees.

Step 3: Drive your heels into the ground to stand up to the starting position.

Goblet Squat Mistakes

The Goblet Squat is fairly mistake-proof, which is one thing that makes it such a great exercise. However, there are two common mistakes you need to avoid to perform the move with perfect form.

Mistake 1: Your torso tilts forward

Goblet Squat Form Mistake: Tilting Forwards

Mike Boyle, renown strength coach and co-founder of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning, explains that if your torso tilts forward during the Squat, that’s an indication that your ankles are too tight or your core isn’t strong enough. You can tell if you tilt too far forward if the bottom portion of the dumbbell comes off your stomach.

The Fix: There are two quick fixes. First, consciously tighten your core and keep the dumbbell in contact with your stomach throughout the rep. Second, place a 5- or 10-pound plate under your heels to overcome any ankle mobility problem.

But these are short-term fixes. You need a long-term plan to develop your core strength. Our 27 Best Core Exercises for Athletes is a great place to start. Also, make ankle mobility training a priority.

Mistake 2: Your knees collapse inward

Goblet Squat Form Mistake: Knees Collapsing

One of the worst mistakes you can make during a Squat is to allow your knees to collapse inward. Technically called valgus collapse, this technique flaw puts your knees at risk during the exercise. Worse, there’s a good chance your knees also do this in dynamic movements in your sport, such as when you land from a jump, when you’re more susceptible to an injury.

The Fix: Wrap a lightweight mini-band around your shins just below your knees. The tension from the band engages your glutes and teaches you to push your knees outward so they’re in line with your hips and ankles.

Goblet Squat Benefits

The Goblet Squat develops lower-body strength, size and power similar to other versions of the Squat. However, it has a few unique benefits compared to the Back Squat and Front Squat.

It Teaches Proper Squat Form

The Goblet Squat is the perfect option for an athlete learning how to squat. Someone who has little experience in the weight room can be confident they’re squatting with at least decent form if they can keep the weight in contact with their sternum and stomach, and their elbows touch their knees. If not, the fixes are relatively easy, as described above.

“The cool thing about this . . . sometimes it almost immediately cleans things up. It’s almost magical,” says Boyle. “We took a bunch of kids who were not good squatters and said, ‘OK let’s just Goblet Squat,’ and 90 percent of those kids got better right away.”

It’s Easy on Your Back

If Back Squats are uncomfortable or hurt your back, then Goblet Squats are a great option. The goblet position shifts the load to the front of your core and allows for a more upright torso position, which is easier on the spine. In fact, Goblet Squats can be considered a weighted core exercise, because your abs, obliques and other core muscles have to engage to perform the exercise properly.

It Can Be Loaded Heavy

Many athletes and coaches make the mistake of categorizing Goblet Squats as a beginner exercise and only do them with light weight. Yes, it’s a great teaching exercise but that doesn’t mean you can’t go heavy. You will ultimately be limited by how heavy the dumbbells are in your gym, but feel free to load up on the weight and challenge yourself. Even strong athletes who regularly Back Squat hundreds of pounds can benefit from heavy Goblet Squats.

Goblet Squat Muscles Worked

The Goblet Squat promotes muscle engagement similar to other variations of the Squat. The prime movers are the glutes and quads, but other muscles in the lower body also contribute to the movement.

Goblet Squat Alternatives and Variations

Kettlebell Goblet Squat

Holding a kettlebell is similar to a dumbbell, but it doesn’t provide the same feedback with the two contact points. However, it’s still a highly effective exercise.

Squat to Curl

Performing a Curl at the bottom of each rep provides a huge challenge for your core muscles and teaches you to engage them during a Squat, which adds strength to the movement while protecting your spine.

Goblet Rear-Foot-Elevated Split Squat

The Rear-Foot-Elevated Split Squat develops single-leg strength and is an effective exercise to continue challenging yourself if your gym doesn’t have heavy dumbbells.

Goblet Squat Workouts

Here are three workout options that include Goblet Squats.

Goblet Squat Workout

1) Goblet Squats – 4×10

Goblet Squat Superset

1A) Goblet Squats – 4×8

1B) Hamstring Curls – 4×12

Full-Body Workout With Goblet Squats

1) Goblet Squat – 5×5

2A) Inverted Row – 4×8

2B) Half-Kneeling Overhead Press – 4×8 each arm

3A) Single-Leg RDL – 3×8 each leg

3B) Lateral Raises – 3×15

4) Pallof Press – 4×10 each side

RELATED:

  • How to Master the Front Squat in 5 Minutes
  • Build Lower-Body Power With This Squat Workout
  • How to Correct a Little-Known Squat Mistake

The squat is a powerful exercise. It works 75% of your muscles in a single movement and it should be one of the mainstays in any leg workout. It’s undeniable ability to make your muscles grow faster and stronger in less time than most other compound movements is why it’s a part of the training routines of pro athletes and average gym-goers alike. As a matter of fact, athletes from every sport and discipline use some version of this exercise to tone their legs and abs, strengthen their core and improve their overall performance (1,2,3). So, which one should you do, sumo squats or regular squats? Let’s compare!

There are many versions of the regular squat that you can include in your training routine to increase gains on specific muscles. Among them, the sumo squat may be the best exercise for building strength in the glutes and inner thighs.

The main difference between regular and sumo squats is the placement of your feet, which naturally leads to a different muscle emphasis. During a regular squat, the feet are placed hip-width apart and the toes face forward or slightly out. For a sumo squat, the feet should be in a wide stance with the toes turned out at an even greater angle. Though both variations work the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors and calves, sumo squats place more stress on the inner thigh adductors and glutes.

Regardless of which squat version you choose to do, make sure you perform the entire movement in a slow, controlled manner for optimal results.

Mastering the Regular Squat

Before attempting the sumo squat, it’s important to master the proper form and technique of the standard squat.

Stand up straight and place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees and knees over ankles. Roll the shoulders down, straighten your back and extend the arms until they’re parallel with the ground, palms facing down. Inhale and bend your knees, bringing the hips backwards and down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, or even lower. While the butt starts to stick out, make sure the chest and shoulders stay upright, the head facing forward with eyes straight ahead for a neutral spine. At the bottom of the squat, the knees should be directly over your toes. Remember to keep your feet anchored firmly to the ground all throughout the movement. Exhale, engage your core and, with bodyweight in the heels, explode back up to standing, driving through heels.

Upgrading to the Sumo Squat

After you have mastered the traditional squat, you can try the sumo variation.

Start by standing with your feet significantly wider than shoulder-width apart (about three to four feet) and toes turned out at an angle of 45 degrees. Inhale, bend your knees and push your hips back while keeping the chest up, abs tight and back straight. Lower yourself down by bending your knees and hips, raising your hands to meet under your chin. Keep your abs tight, back straight and do not let your knees move past your toes when lowering. The weight should be concentrated in the glutes and inner thighs. Once your thighs are parallel to the floor, exhale and root through your heels and rise back up steadily for one rep. Again, don’t let your heels lose contact with the floor, keep the knees parallel with the toes and keep your whole back perfectly straight throughout the entire movement.

Only after you’ve mastered both squats and perfected the form, you can use added resistance to increase the challenge and work on building strength. One basic way to increase the resistance for squats is by holding a barbell behind your head and across your upper back and shoulders (back squat). Hold the barbell at the same height, but resting on your chest and the front of your shoulders for a front squat, or hold the barbell overhead for an overhead squat.

If you only have access to dumbbells, hold one dumbbell with both hands in front of you, or you can hold a dumbbell or a kettlebell in the center of your chest with both hands to perform a goblet squat. You might even try adding one of the longer resistance bands to your squat variations. Stand in the middle of the band and hold both handles at shoulder height as you do your squats, focusing more of your effort on the raising than the lowering.

Finally, to answer our question: sumo squats or regular squats? Answer: Both!

Enjoy your squatting and please share!

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Melissa Bell

Melissa Bell has a strong background in nutrition education, fitness and yoga, and experience working on specialized stretching, bodybuilding and weight loss programs. She is actively studying Japanese, doing research and travelling for conferences while taking care of two children. Follow me: =”https:>

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Sumo squat to stand

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