The squat, you either love it, or you hate it. Squats are the perfect exercise for strengthening your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, and putting them into your regular workout can help prevent knee injuries, and lower your risk of osteoporosis further down the track. So, whatever your preference may be, love or hate, we’ve compiled a list of 7 variations on the humble squat, to keep your workout fresh, and of course, those glutes tight!
The Humble Squat
Before we begin, let’s focus for a second on the original squat. Technique is key with any exercise, and while repetition and high intensity are important, if you’re not doing it right, you may end up working out areas you weren’t trying to target, or worse, you could injure yourself. So, how does one perform the humble squat?
Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointed forward, torso straight and head high. If you have a mat, try putting your heels on it, with your toes on the floor. This can help with balance as you move down, and provide additional support as you rise back up!
Hold your arms out in front with the palms of your hands facing down.
Bend your knees and slowly lower yourself down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. As you move down, push your bottom back as if going to sit in a chair. Keep your back as straight as you can, as folding in on yourself (hunching over), will yield little results.
Return to standing and repeat.
Now that you’ve got the basics down let’s get on into the variations!
Like the name would suggest, this one is inspired by the ballet movement of the same nature.
Stand with your heels together, and your toes pointed outwards slightly.
Bend your knees and lower down as far as you are comfortable, without sticking your bottom out.
As you reach the bottom of the squat, draw your heels up (and pretend for a second you’re a ballerina).
Return to standing, and repeat.
If needed, we recommend using a bar or something on by your side, to aid in balance (and your ballet fantasies).
The Curtsy Squat
Just pretend you’re standing in front of the queen, and do a curtsy! Just kidding, this is really how you do it!
Stand with your hands on your hips (for balance) and your feet hip-width apart.
Move your right foot behind your left leg, as far as you are comfortable, and using your most graceful curtsy, squat down.
Try to keep your weight on your front leg as you return to standing.
Make sure to repeat on both legs.
And that’s the curtsey squat! Simple enough, right?
The Squat Jump
Incorporating plyometric movements into your exercises will help to raise your heart rate, get your blood pumping, and assist with toning and weight loss. A plyometric exercise is any movement where both feet leave the ground at the same time. So basically, if you have to jump, you’re going to feel the burn.
Start with your basic squat, but only lower yourself about halfway down.
As you come up, push your feet off the ground and jump, before landing again.
Return to the squat position instantly, to keep your momentum going.
This variation is not for the faint of heart, so make sure you’ve got the simple squat jump down before attempting, and always use a stable box to jump onto, something preferably made of wood.
Stand in front of your box and lower yourself down into a humble squat.
Use both your feet to jump up, landing squarely on the box in the same squat position.
You can either step off the box, or jump back down, but either way, return to the squat on the ground and repeat.
It’s always best to start low with this one, a smaller box, and work your way up as you get more confidence and your strength improves. Your shins will thank you for it, we promise!
This one does require a wall, but hey, who doesn’t have one of those lying around?
Stand with your back against a wall, your feet hip-width apart.
Just like in a basic squat, lower yourself down until your thighs are in line with the ground. Keep your back flat against the wall, and don’t put your arms on your legs or the wall, keep them out in front of you with the palms facing down.
Hold. Keep Holding. Ideally for 45 seconds.
Return to standing and give your legs a good shake out before repeating.
This variation is perfect for building glutes in particular, and with our beautiful range of bands, you’ll be spoilt for choice on which colour to use.
Loop the band around legs, just below the knees, and lower yourself into a basic squat. Make sure to keep your knees firm, by pushing against the band.
Take a step to the left, while still in your squat, and then step back again to where you began.
Step out then, to your right, and return to your original position. Or, you can do all the left side first, and then the right side, either way, make sure to do the same amount of reps for both before returning to a standing position.
If you want an added extra challenge, try placing a second resistance band around your ankles, that will really get those glutes burning!
Back Squat with Barbell
This last one does require a weighted barbell and is the perfect variation for if you’re finding a basic squat is no longer a challenge for you. Not only will you work your glutes, hamstrings, and quads, but also your core, as it will be working twice as hard to keep you balanced as you move with the added weight.
Take a weighted barbell (don’t take more than you can manage) and take it over your head to rest it across your shoulders. Take care that you don’t have it on your neck, as this can cause injury.
Squat down in your basic form, and then return to standing.
Because this variation does use weights, it’s important here more than ever that your technique is perfect, so check with a trainer or professional before beginning, to make sure you’ve got the perfect squat down.
Now get out there and squat, squat, squat!