Squats - people either love them or hate them. But since they build muscle all over, help the body burn more fat, and prevent injuries by developing core strength - it’s an exercise worth working on, even for those who hesitate lowering their posteriors. And whether you’re a squat veteran or simply exploring this as a leg workout option, there are several variations that help ease you into this high-ROI movement. 

1. Body weight squats. 

Also known as air squats, this movement is easy, can be done anywhere, and requires nothing more than a willingness to start…and perhaps a bit of private space. Start by placing your feet at roughly shoulder width, with toes pointing slightly outwards. Lower your butt til your knees form a right angle (making sure they don’t go past your toes), while concentrating your weight on your heels. Maintain a flat back. Stand, and repeat as necessary. 

Goblet squat option: Hold a dumbell to your chest, as if it were a cup, while maintaining the same basic mechanics. 

2. Single leg squats

This variation addresses muscular imbalances, and hones one’s balance and coordination. Start by adopting the basic squat position, but lift one leg behind you as you lower yourself onto the ground. Watch those knees. Use your arms to balance. 

Pistol squat option: Hold your leg straight out in front of you. Adds to the difficulty, but damn more impressive, visually. 

3. Front squat with barbell

After perfecting the basic forms, the only way to move forward is by pushing up the weight. One of the most popular variations is the front squat with barbell. 

Assume the basic squat position, with the barbell positioned in front of you. Hoist it (gently) towards your chest, to a level just above your shoulders. Be careful, and keep the barbell above your palms, with your fingers pointing backwards. Remember that you don’t have to grip the bar, it just has to me cradled. Keep your head up and your back straight as you lower yourself to the ground. Focus. Repeat and add weight as required. 

Overhead squat option: For advanced upper body strength and coordination, try holding the bar straight up over your head. Arms, core, back and…pretty much everywhere engagement - guaranteed. 

Words by: Reg Tolentino


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