There’s no getting around the fact that squat exercises are a staple of many top-notch exercise routines. A squat workout isn’t mandatory for a fit and healthy lifestyle, and may not need to feature in your exercise routine. But there’s no denying that squats are one of the big dogs of lifting. If you consider yourself interested in, or partial to a good old squat, check out our three favourite squat exercises.
1. The Bodyweight Squat
The bodyweight squat features no bar or additional weights; it’s an excellent place to begin if you’re new to squatting, or prefer to train for mobility and fitness rather than optimal strength gain. Make no mistake, correct form when conducting a bodyweight squat is nothing to shirk at, and cranking through the repetitions will give you a serious burn. Mastering this exercise can be a beautiful step forward for the fitness of your body.
To perform a standard bodyweight squat, start from a standing position with shoulders back, and feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body by bending your knees, paying careful mind to your hips, which you should push back as far as you can whilst keeping your back arched and your chest up. Lower yourself until the bend of your hips sits below the top arch of the knee. Reverse the movement to return to your initial position to complete one repetition.
2. Bulgarian Split Squat
An excellent way to train balance, as well as to iron out strength imbalances between legs, the Bulgarian split squat exercise is extremely popular. The split squat is a fantastic way to build strength if you do not have access to as many weights, as it’s easier to overload the muscles of one leg with lighter resistance.
Paying attention to your balance and comfort with the movement itself is highly recommended. Form, as with all squat exercises in particular and gym exercises more generally, is the name of the game. You can begin without any weight whatsoever, and you’ll still face a high degree of difficulty. So make sure you take time to master the movement before adding dumbbells or barbells to the activity.
To perform the Bulgarian split squat, position yourself the length of one lunge in front of a bench, step, or platform. Place one foot on the platform, and once balanced, begin a descent into the squat position, engaging the muscles of your front leg with your hips pushed back and your chest up.
Allow your back leg to bend, but keep the top of your foot on the platform for balance. Descend until your front knee is parallel to the ground at 90 degrees, your rear knee touches the floor, or until balance permits. Reverse the motion to complete a repetition.
3. The Barbell Back Squat
One of the most tried and trusted methods of lower body strength training, the barbell back squat is the quintessential squat exercise you’re likely to have come into some contact with before. As the most frequently utilised method of squatting, the barbell back squat offers an unmatched level of lower body mass development. If you’re looking to gain, are serious about perfect form, and want to hit every aspect of musculature in your lower body, you’ll want to consider the back squat.
Conducted with similar technique to the bodyweight squat, the barbell back squat requires the placement of a barbell across the upper back, resting appropriately under the top of the trapezius. We recommend consultation with a fitness professional to ensure your barbell back squat form is to the required standard.