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5 Squat Variations That Will Kick Your Butt!

<article> <section> <p>Fitness pros call squats the ‘king’ of all functional exercises. But what about squat variations? Will mixing up your lower body workouts with other types of squats give you other benefits?</p> <p>Full squats are great, but they’re not for everyone. If you can’t do full squats because you’re just getting into exercise or you have injuries, squat variations are the perfect solution. You can get all the benefits of full squats, plus others.</p> <p>Here’s a breakdown of the benefits of squats, why squat variations are awesome for your workouts, and five new squats you can add to your next training session.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What Are the Benefits of Squats?</header> <p>If you read our <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Squats 101 article</a>, you know many fitness professionals consider squats the ‘king’ of all <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">functional fitness exercises</a>. Fitness pros love squats for many reasons. Here are four big ones:</p> <ol> <li>Squats strengthen several muscle groups at once (your <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">glutes</a>, quads, <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">back</a>, and <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">abs</a>).</li> <li>They are <i>truly</i> a <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">functional exercise</a> (try getting up off a toilet without strong quads and glutes).</li> <li>Squats are a versatile fitness exercise. You can use them to add muscle, <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">improve cardio</a>, or burn fat.</li> <li>Squats improve your quality of life. Your whole body is forced to work as a unit during perfect squats, improving balance, coordination, bone density, and joint health in your knees, hips, and ankles.</li> </ol> <p>If you haven’t yet, check out our <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Squats 101 guide</a> for more benefits and everything you need to know about doing perfect squats.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Are Squats Okay for Beginners?</header> <p>Anyone, no matter their fitness level, can do squats. But that doesn’t mean everyone will do the same <i>type</i> of squats. Depending on your fitness level and other factors, you might need to start with <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">beginner squat exercises</a>.</p> <p>That’s why, in this article, there are five different squat variations to choose from.</p> <p>What are those other factors besides fitness? Common limitations for squats include joint pain (<a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">especially in the knees</a>) and poor mobility in the hips or ankles.</p> <p>If full squats or certain variations hurt, we recommend starting with modified squats. Use <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">simple chair exercises</a> in your at-home workouts or try a beginner exercise like <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">sit to stands</a>.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Why Should I Use Squat Variations?</header> <p>Here are three reasons you should totally try new squat variations in your training.</p> <div class="sub-head">1. They Target Different Muscle Groups</div> <p>Each squat variation works your lower body muscles a little differently. If you have a specific goal in mind for toning, strengthening, or mobilizing a certain muscle (like your <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">glutes</a>), using different squat variations can help.</p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <video autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> </div> <p>For example, <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">feet together squats</a> are a great beginner exercise. They strengthen the same muscles as regular squats, but you don’t have to squat as low or need as much mobility in your ankles. If you can’t do full squats, feet together squats are a good exercise to help you get there in the future.</p> <p>When your feet go wider, like during <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">sumo squats</a>, your hips and thighs must work harder than usual. If these are areas you’d like to tone up, then adding sumo squats to your workouts will help.</p> <p>Other squats, like jump squats, require a jump, which make your muscles more powerful and gives you a killer <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">cardio workout</a>. Some variations, like bear squats, even give you an upper body workout, too.</p> <div class="sub-head">2. Because Everyone’s Body Is Different</div> <p>Not everyone is the same when it comes to fitness. Your current fitness level is a combination of your injury history, exercise history, and even body type. These help determine which exercises and fitness routines will work best for you.</p> <p>Everyone’s body type is different. It’s common to be naturally good at some exercises and struggle with others. </p> <p>For example, people with longer arms may struggle with push-ups (and <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer"><i>their</i> variations</a>) at first. But longer-limbed people are usually good at hinge exercises like <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">drinking birds</a>.</p> <p>The same goes for squats. Certain squats might be easy for you. Certain variations may not feel great or be especially difficult.</p> <p>If you’re overweight, have tight hips from <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">sitting too much</a>, or have bad ankle mobility, certain squat variations might not work for you. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do any squats. It just means you should try different variations until you find one that works for you.</p> <div class="sub-head">3. They Keep You Motivated</div> <p>Variety is the spice of life, and it’s also a secret weapon for keeping you going with your fitness routines. Being healthy means making fitness a <i>lifestyle</i> and exercising regularly (we recommend three times per week).</p> <p>That said, it’s nice to change things up once in a while. Exercise variations can help.</p> <p>Instead of getting bored doing the same <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">circuit training workout</a> with the same exercises every time, you can keep things interesting by adding in new new squat variations.</p> <p>As one of our top three <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">tips for motivation</a>, we believe it’s important to make fitness something you enjoy. Sure, there will be tough days. But if every day is a struggle, you’ll find making fitness into a habit difficult.</p> <p>Trying new things is one way to keep you engaged and interested in your home workouts.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>5 Checkpoints for Doing Perfect Squats</header> <p>As you’ll see in the next section, each squat variation is a little bit different. However, there are a handful of things all good squats have in common.</p> <p>Check these five things off to ensure each squat is safe and done with good form:</p> <ul> <li><b>Feet:</b> Keep your bodyweight in the heels throughout the squat. Don’t lean forward on your toes.</li> <li><b>Hips:</b> Break at the hips first, then bend your knees. Aim for an imaginary chair behind you.</li> <li><b>Knees:</b> Don’t let your knees track out over your toes. If you break at the hips first, this won’t happen.</li> <li><b>Core:</b> Make a “proud chest,” so your upper body muscles are flexed and your spine is straight.</li> <li><b>Arms:</b> Keep your arms out for balance (Coach Tyler has a perfect demo in his jump squat demo below).</li> </ul> <p>One more plug here to check out our <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Squat 101 tutorial</a>, which walks you through the set up for everything you need to do a perfect squat.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>5 Best Squat Variations You Can Do at Home</header> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <video autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> </div> <div class="sub-head">1. Sumo Squats</div> <p><b>Fitness Level:</b> Beginner</p> <p>Lateral steps during sumo squats help open up the hips, increasing flexibility. Sumo squats are also great for getting your heart rate up. They fit well in <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">cardio workouts</a>.</p> <p>As a cue, picture an invisible fence you must step over for each rep. This ensures you step high enough and do the exercise correctly. Stand tall to finish each rep.</p> <p>And even though you’re taking lateral steps, keep the weight in your heels, not toes, throughout.</p> <p><b>Try This:</b> Do a <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">high-intensity interval training</a> (HIIT) workout combining sumo squats and an upper body exercise like push-ups. 30 seconds on, 20 seconds off. Complete 12 total rounds, alternating exercises.</p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <video autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> </div> <div class="sub-head">2. Bear Squats</div> <p><b>Fitness Level:</b> Beginner</p> <p>Bear squats are a fantastic introduction to squats if you have knee pain or want to build some leg strength before doing full squats. </p> <p>Bear squats may be low-impact, but they’re a full-body exercise and give your arms and shoulders a workout, too.</p> <p>Done correctly, the top position looks a bit like downward dog.</p> <p><b>Try This:</b> Add bear squats to your next circuit training workout. Pick three other exercises (one hinge exercise, such as drinking birds, one upper-body exercise like push-ups, and one <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">core exercise</a> like <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">planks</a>).</p> <p>45 seconds on, 15 seconds off to rotate to the next station. Complete three cycles.</p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <video autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> </div> <div class="sub-head">3. Feet Together Squats</div> <p><b>Fitness Level:</b> Beginner</p> <p>These may be a beginner exercise, but you can still open up your hips and stretch the ankles with this squat variation. Go as low as you can each rep.</p> <p>Stand with your weight in the heels without leaning forward on your toes. With your knees touching, this may be challenging, so keep your hands out for balance.</p> <p><b>Try This:</b> Superset feet together squats with another lower-body exercise like lunges. Do 12 reps of feet together squats, then 12 alternating lunges (six on each side). Do that three times. Holy glutes!</p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <video autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> </div> <div class="sub-head">4. Split Squats</div> <p><b>Fitness Level:</b> Any</p> <p>We say this squat variation works at any fitness level because you can easily progress it to make it more or less challenging.</p> <p>Stand with your feet split. Sit back on your heel with the front leg, and let your toes balance you from behind. Bring the knee down to the ground while maintaining that “proud chest” position.</p> <p><b>Try This:</b> Let’s get unilateral! Pair split squats, a unilateral exercise (meaning they work one side at a time) with another exercise you must do on the left, then right side. We recommend <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">side planks</a>!</p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <div class="col-12 col-md-4"> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="jump-squats-tutorial-0171"> </picture> </div> <div class="col-12 col-md-4"> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="jump-squats-tyler-0171"> </picture> </div> </div> <div class="sub-head">5. Jump Squats</div> <p><b>Fitness Level:</b> Advanced</p> <p>It’s built into the name: jump squats are the plyometric version of a regular squat. Do a full squat (the crease of your hip should be parallel to the floor as seen above), then using the power from your legs and a swing of the arms, explode up. Leaving the floor, extend fully at the top (see second image of Coach Tyler’s demo).</p> <p>To <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">protect your knees</a>, try landing softly after each rep. Your toes leave the ground first and touch the ground first on the way back down. Avoid slamming your heels. Stand to finish after each rep.</p> <p><b>Try This:</b> Practice doing three sets of 10 perfect jump squats. To build up, you can do 5 good jump squats (or as many as you can), then finish the set doing regular squats if needed.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Best Squat Variations—Wrapping Up</header> <p>Squat variations isolate target muscle groups, so make squats accessible no matter your body type or injury history, and breathe life into your workouts.</p> <p>Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned veteran when it comes to exercise, give these five squat variations a shot during your next at-home workout.</p> <p>If you’re looking for more at-home, no-equipment-needed exercise progressions to boost your workouts, check out the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">exercise section</a> of our blog.</p> <p>And honestly, our blog is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re looking to get healthy or have a total body transformation, join the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Warrior Made</a> tribe.</p> <p>Besides awesome workouts, you’ll get great coaching, nutrition advice, and be surrounded by like-minded people all working towards their own health and fitness goals.</p> </section> </article>

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