Hey fitness enthusiasts, which of you know how to do a squat properly? Whether you’re a gym newbie or a seasoned lifter, squats are a powerhouse move in any workout regime. But did you know there’s more to squats than just the standard version? From the foundational bodyweight squat to challenging variations like Bulgarian and barbell squats.
Let’s explore the diverse world of this essential exercise:
The Foundation – Bodyweight Squat
Before we leap into the heavier stuff, let’s nail down the basics with the bodyweight squat. This form is essential for mastering balance and technique, which are crucial for more advanced variations.
Step-by-Step Guide to the Perfect Bodyweight Squat
- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your chest up and spine neutral.
- Bend your knees, pushing your hips back as if sitting in a chair.
- Lower down until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor.
- Push through your heels to return to standing.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
- Not going low enough (aim for thighs parallel to the ground)
- Letting knees cave in (keep them aligned with toes)
- Rounding the back (maintain a neutral spine)
Taking It Up a Notch – Barbell Squat
The barbell squat is a step up in terms of intensity and is fantastic for building overall strength.
How to Execute a Barbell Squat Safely
- Position the barbell on your upper back (not your neck).
- Grasp the bar wider than shoulder-width, elbows pointing down.
- Follow the same lower body motion as the bodyweight squat.
- Keep the barbell stable and controlled throughout the movement.
Variations of the Barbell Squat
- High Bar Squat: Bar rests on traps, more quad-focused.
- Low Bar Squat: Bar sits lower on the back, engages hamstrings and glutes more.
Bulgarian Split Squat – A Unilateral Challenge
This variation targets each leg independently, great for addressing imbalances and enhancing stability.
Mastering the Bulgarian Split Squat
- Stand a couple of feet in front of a bench or raised platform.
- Extend one foot back and rest it on the bench.
- Lower your body by bending your front knee, keeping your torso upright.
- Push up through the front heel to return to the start position.
Tips for Bulgarian Split Squats
- Keep your front foot flat and knee aligned with your toes.
- Start with bodyweight, then gradually add dumbbells for more resistance.
Front Squat – A Core and Quad Builder
Front squats shift the focus to your quads and core, requiring more upper-body engagement.
Executing the Perfect Front Squat
- Position the barbell across your chest and shoulders, elbows up.
- Keep your upper arms parallel to the floor throughout the entire movement.
- Engage your core, then lower into the squat, keeping your elbows high.
- Drive through your heels to stand back up.
Overhead Squat – For Advanced Squatters
This demanding variation tests your mobility, strength, and balance to the max.
How to Perform an Overhead Squat
- Start with the barbell overhead, arms locked.
- Stabilize your core and keep the bar overhead as you move down.
- Maintain a wide grip and active shoulders to keep the bar steady.
- Go as low as your mobility allows, then rise back up.
Squats are not just a leg exercise; they are a full-body movement that improves strength, flexibility, and balance. Whether you’re doing a basic bodyweight squat or taking on the overhead squat, remember to focus on form over quantity. With practice and patience, you’ll master these variations in no time!
Not necessarily. Bodyweight squats are excellent for beginners or those focusing on form and endurance.
Aim for 2-3 times a week, allowing rest days in between for muscle recovery.
Absolutely! Squats are a high-intensity exercise that can help burn calories and build muscle, aiding in weight loss.
It depends. Always consult with a healthcare provider or a certified trainer, especially if you have pre-existing conditions.
Gradually increase your weight, focus on your form, and ensure you’re eating a balanced diet to support muscle growth.