Squats are a staple of any well-rounded workout. They tone your tummy, butt, legs, and strengthen your entire core.
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Squats can be the secret to fitness success, but how do you get the most out of them? Put a twist on the traditional exercise and check out these 15 squat variations that can be tailored specifically to your body and fitness goals.
1. The Basic Squat
- Begin standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Make sure your entire body is facing forward. Your toes and knees should be in alignment, slightly pointing out. Keep your abdominal muscles flexed.
- Inhale and bend your knees as though you are about to sit in a chair and hold your arms straight out in front of your body. (You may have heard never to allow your knees to extend past your toes, but that is actually dependent both on what type of squat you are doing, as well as your unique body proportions.)
- Try to keep your back straight throughout the squat, and when your knees have reached or slightly passed parallel, reverse the motion and stand back up.
2. Bodyweight Jump Squat
- Hold your arms up with your hands on the back of your head and your elbows parallel with your body.
- Slightly bend your knees and then jump upwards with all your force.
- As soon as you land, return into the squatting position and jump, repeating four reps of 10-15 squats each.
3. Isolated Squat Hold
This squat variation is similar in form to the basic squat, but instead of standing back up immediately, you remain in a squatting position for 30 seconds. Remember to keep your weight on your heels to remain balanced, with your shoulders rolled back and downwards and your core held tight. Repeat the isolated squat hold for four reps of five squats each.
4. Single-Leg Chair Squat
Single-leg squats can be performed standing, with one leg slightly lifted off the floor, but are most beneficial when they are performed with a chair or bench.
- Sit on the chair and face your toes, knees, and core straight forward.
- With your feet shoulder width apart and level on the floor, pick one up slightly and then slowly stand up on the other foot.
- Stick your butt out to keep your hips behind your back and then, keeping control, sit back down.
- Repeat the single-leg chair squat for four reps of 10-15 squats each.
5. Pistol Squat
The pistol squat is not for a beginner, but is quick to improve balance if practiced.
- Begin by standing on one leg and then squat all the way down to the floor, keeping your entire body forward and your arms and other leg extended straight out.
- Repeat for four reps of five squats each.
6. Squat Pulses
Perform the basic squat, but remain in the lowered position, moving yourself slightly up and down in a bouncing motion. Squat pulses target your upper thighs and are a simple variation to the basic squat that everyone can try out.
7. Figure-Four Squat
- With your legs a shoulder width apart, bend your knees slightly and lift and bend your right leg so that the side of your foot is resting above the knee of your left leg.
- Squat down to parallel and then slowly stand back up.
- Remaining in position, repeat this squat for four reps of five squats each.
8. Ninja-Tuck Jump
Not nearly as intimidating as it sounds, to perform the ninja-tuck jump.
- Simply begin by kneeling on the floor with your feet flat, facing forward, and your arms bent down by your sides.
- Jump upwards into a standing position with both feet in unison and then land back down into a squatting position.
- Jump repeatedly for four reps of five.
9. Wall Squat
- With your knees shoulder width apart and your body facing forward, back against a wall and bend down into a sitting position.
- Keep your back straight against the wall and keep your legs bent at 90 degrees.
- Don’t rest your legs against the wall or your legs, and hold it, hold it, hold it for at least thirty seconds.
- Start by standing in a wide squatting position, with your feet outstretched past your shoulders, as though you are balancing on a surfboard.
- Jump and spin around so that you are now standing in the same position, facing the opposite way. (Remember to keep your core and hips facing forward – you want to avoid twisting your hips when jumping.)
- Repeat for four reps of 10-15 squats each.
11. Butt-To-Heels Squat
- Keep your feet close together and slowly squat down until your heels lift slightly and your butt is touching them. (In this squat variation, it is normal for your knees to be extended out much farther than your toes, so just concentrate on keeping your abs flexed and your body facing straight.)
- Try the butt-to-heels squat for four reps of 15 each.
12. Sumo Squat
The sumo squat is one of the few healthy squat variations that include pointing your toes out and keeping your legs farther apart than shoulder width.
- Hold your arms out straight in front of you and bend into a squatting position, stopping when your thighs are parallel to the ground.
- You should repeat this squat for four reps of 10 squats each.
13. Squat Jacks
- Bend down into the basic squat, and then jump as though you are doing a jumping jack.
- Instead of standing straight up, though, remain in a squatting position throughout your jump.
- This funky squat will tone your butt and give you a fun way to release energy, while also significantly improving balance.
- Complete four reps of five squats each to maximize your workout potential.
14. Barbell Squat
Our last two squats include weights, as dumbbells and barbells can turn the squat into an exercise that works the upper chest and biceps, as well.
- Simply perform the basic squat, but keep feet twice as far apart. Hold a barbell across your shoulders and upper back with an overhand grip and repeat four sets of five ten squats.
15. Goblet Squat
Begin in the basic squat, with a dumbbell held upright in front of you. You should be gripping the dumbbell in both palms, as though you are holding a large goblet.
- Perform the basic squat with the dumbbell for four reps of 10 each.