Everyone knows what a SQUAT is, and if you don’t…we need to have a talk. It’s an essential lower body exercise that most people use for working out their glutes, but it also works out your quads, calves, and core. A traditional squat with no weights is simple enough, although form is key in gaining the most you can out of squats. Once you’ve got it down, there are countless variations that you can do to make the squat more challenging and more fun. So if you ever get bored of the squat, try out some of these suggestions that we have! (But again, make sure your basic form is good!)
Probably the most basic of all of these variations, this is just a standard squat but with a small jump as you come up and then return back into a squat. (You don’t have to jump super high, just do a controlled jump.) Rinse and repeat. If you have knee pain or feel some instability when you do this, try to come up onto your tippy toes instead of jumping.
Lateral squats are especially good for your gluteus medius, the part of your butt that helps your side-to-side movements. With lateral squats, when you go down for the squat, shift your weight to one side–let’s say your right side–and bend your right knee as you lower to the floor, leaving your left leg straight. Come back into the center and repeat on the opposite side. If you like lateral squats, I’d also recommend you check out Skater Jumps!
Lateral Squat Walk
Lateral squat walks are really fun with a resistance band. Staying in squat position, take several steps to one side, moving laterally. And then walk to the opposite side.
Kind of hard to describe, but you basically pulse in a squat between a low squat and a slightly higher squat. If you really want to feel the burn, superset these after doing other squats or after holding a squat. Or do these with resistance bands and a kettlebell or dumb bell held in your hands below your chin.
After coming up from a normal squat, jump your feet together and then right back out into squat position again. Keep jumping between each squat.
Like a sumo wrestler, stand with your feet wider than your shoulders and toes pointed out. The advantage of the sumo squat is that it’ll work your inner thighs.
A kang squat is a combo of a good morning squat and a back squat. The key to doing this well is to keep your back straight as you do this. This exercise will utilize all the major muscle groups of your backside, including hamstrings, quads, glutes, back, spinal erectors, abs, and obliques.
If you’ve never done a kang squat, try it without weights first. Start standing straight with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your weight in your heels, shift your hip back, and slightly bend at your knees (aka don’t lock them straight). Place your hands behind your head. Bend forward at your hips and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the ground. Then sit your hips back and go into a squat position. When you come back up from the squat, stand up first and then straighten your back.
Remember, you can add resistance bands or free weights. See what works best for you. Both are pretty versatile and you can use them with your other workouts. For some people the deciding factor is cost–generally speaking free weights cost more than resistance bands. Resistance bands are also easy to take with you, so if you wanted to work out outside or travel with them, for example, they’re a great tool to have.
We know some of you have gotten a little too comfortable with your workouts, so remember to mix up your exercises and challenge different muscles. Variations will keep things fresh and fun! If you have questions about any of these, feel free to ask one of our trainers.