Squats are, without a doubt, a powerhouse move for your body. If you are only able to do one exercise at the gym, the squat should be it. It works your entire body, especially with the use of a barbell. More specifically, it targets your butt and legs. It requires the stability of your core and the balance of your entire muscular structure. Squats burn mega calories and help define, shape, and tone your body. Furthermore, variations of the traditional squat help target the butt and legs from different angles, so that you can achieve even more improved tone and shape.
Try to squat on three nonconsecutive days each week. This will give your body time to rest and repair itself between squat days. You can complete one or all of the squat variations each workout. Aim for about three sets of 12 repetitions of each. Of course, if you choose to try each variation, you could go for only one or two sets of each. It’s your workout, so tailor it to your needs. The overall squat challenge is just to try each variation and incorporate at least one of the moves into each workout that you do.
You can use your bodyweight, dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell for the traditional, sumo, and split squats. The pistol and curtsy squats would work best with bodyweight, dumbbells, or kettlebells. Your weight selection should leave you feeling fatigued by your last repetition of each set. Remember to stay hydrated throughout the workout and to consult your physician before beginning any new exercise regimen.
1. Traditional Squat
Why not start with the classic squat movement? The traditional squat form is very important as it will lay the groundwork for the rest of the squat movements that you perform.
- Start by standing in an upright position with your shoulders back and down.
- The barbell should be on the upper part of your back unless you prefer bodyweight or another form of weights mentioned above.
- Brace your core so that your back is in straight alignment and your head and neck are neutral.
- Push your butt back as if you are about to sit in a chair.
- Your hips should sit back accordingly as your knees bend. You can stop at the bottom of the movement where it is comfortable for you.
- For some, that is at a 90-degree angle, and for others it’s a little bit above or below that mark.
- Once at the bottom of the movement, use your butt to raise yourself back to the standing position.
- Make sure to keep your knees tracking outward at 45-degree angles throughout the movement.
- As with any exercise, remember to breath throughout the movement.
2. Sumo Squat
The sumo squat takes on a wider-stance version of the traditional squat. It works the inner thighs and the outer butt more because of this positioning.
- Start in an upright standing position and then move each foot out about one foot’s length more on each side.
- Your feet should still point out at 45-degree angles.
- As with the traditional squat, you will sit back and maintain your posture by bracing your core.
- Keep your knees tracking outward as you squat down and rise up from the bottom of the position.
- Again, you can use whatever weight form variation you are comfortable with from the list mentioned above.
3. Bulgarian Split Squat
The Bulgarian split squat focuses in on balance in addition to strength. It isolates the quad, hamstring, and butt on each leg as each side is completed separately. To complete the movement, load on your weights accordingly. You can use any of the above mentioned weight forms for this movement.
- Place one foot on a bench and step forward with the other.
- Bend and lower the front knee down vertically until it forms a 90-degree angle.
- The back leg should bend accordingly as the foot is resting on the bench.
- Rise up using the isolated leg’s balance and power.
- Finish allotted repetitions on one side before switching to the other side.
4. Pistol Squat
Pistol squats help with balance and coordination in addition to building muscle. In addition, they target the hamstrings of the stabilizing leg.
- To perform the pistol squat, start in an upright position.
- Kick out one leg in front of you and keep it straight as you bend and squat down with the stabilizing leg.
- You can put your hands on your hips or hold them out to either side for balance.
- Complete allotted repetitions on one side before moving to the opposing side.
5. Curtsy Squat
Curtsy squats tone the inner and outer thighs in addition to the butt, hamstrings, quads, and calves.
- To perform a curtsy squat, step one leg behind you and off to a 45-degree angle.
- From there, lunge that leg and sink it down to a 90-degree angle.
- Step back to an upright standing position for repetition on that side.
- Alternate or complete desired amount of repetitions on one side at a time.