Squats are one of the most fundamental exercises you can perform. When done properly, they work the glute, quad, hamstring, calf and abdominal muscles and can help build some serious strength. With so many variations to choose from, you can incorporate some form of squat variation frequently into your workout routine!
Here are four fun squat variations to test out today!
1. Bulgarian split squat
The Bulgarian split squat is an excellent leg squat variation that isolates the muscles on a single leg. Begin by placing one foot up on a small bench or ledge, and the other foot out in front of you so that you are in a position resembling a lunge. Keep your chest upright, your abs engaged, and your back very erect.
Inhale as you sink the body down and backward toward the back leg. Exhale as you come back to standing, and squeeze the glute, hamstring, and quad of the standing leg to power you back up. Perform 6-10 repetitions at a time and then switch sides.
2. Double racked Kettlebell front squat
The double racked Kettlebell front squat acts as a more challenging variation of the barbell front squat, as the upper body has to work harder to hold and support the weight of the Kettlebells. Begin by bringing the Kettlebells up to the rack position. Place your feet about hip width to shoulder width apart. Inhale as you sink your butt down, bringing it as least in line with your knees (if not lower). Exhale as you come up, and really focus on squeezing through your abs, glutes and inner thighs. Since the weight of the kettlebells will be sitting at the front of the body, it is important to remain very upright in order to keep yourself from folding over. This variation requires a lot of extra upper body and ab strength.
3. Plyo squats
Plyo squats help work the muscles in the glutes, hamstrings, and abs while simultaneously getting the heart rate up. Begin standing with your feet underneath your hips. Jump your feet out to the sides and sink down into a body weight squat. As you come up from the squat, jump your feet back in and return to your starting position. Repeat for repetitions or time to get the heart rate up!
4. Horse stance isometric squat
This squat variation is an isometric hold that can really make the muscles burn!
Start in a wide stance with your toes pointed slightly outward. Sink the butt down and keep your chest tall and your abs engaged. Once your hip crease is parallel with your knee cap and your thighs are making a 90* angle with your shins, stop and hold that position for 30-45 seconds at a time.
All of the stabilizing muscles will have to work harder to keep you in position, helping to build overall strength.
Try it any and all of these fun squat variations during your next workout to help build up your abdominal and lower body strength!
Lauren Weiss is a personal trainer and group fitness instructor based out of Long Beach, CA. She specializes in kettlebell training and unconventional workouts and has been working with both types of fitness for over a year. Lauren has her BOLT Kettlebell Sport Certification through the USA Kettlebell League and has expertise working with kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells and several unconventional fitness tools. Lauren received her BA in Journalism and uses her writing expertise to craft thought-provoking articles about trending fitness, health & wellness topics. Follow Lauren on her website, Facebook, and Instagram.
Main Photo Credit: Tatyana Chaiko/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Samo Trebizan/shutterstock.com