5 Squat Variations For Explosive Muscle Growth
Squats will always have their place in the strength training world. Commonly known as the “king” of all lifts, the squat has earned its reputation for a good reason.
But there is a problem. A lot of lifters are atrocious at squatting. These aren’t only the newbies either. If you don’t believe me, just walk into any commercial gym and observe the squat rack.
Contrary to what most believe, squatting is a skill. It must be learned.
When the squat is properly performed, it stands alone as an overall strength building and leg development exercise. But when the squat is executed poorly, it not only proves to be ineffective for strength and leg development, it can be downright dangerous. Destroyed lower backs and ruined knees have fallen victim to poor squat mechanics.
Mobility restrictions often turn squatting into a wrestling match with the barbell, preventing the lifter to squat with an upright torso. The result is an ugly squat/good morning hybrid. Even lifters with pre-existing shoulder, knee, and back issues who have the capacity to squat with good form may find squatting problematic.
Enter, the Landmine Squat
The answer isn’t to stop squatting altogether; you must simply learn how to squat better. It’s time to dial in your squatting pattern by utilizing several variations of the landmine squat. The landmine squat is the best solution for lifters who can’t squat properly due to pre-existing joint pain or mobility restrictions.
Since the bar travels back as you squat down, it influences you as the lifter to take your hips back and down all while staying upright. Forward knee travel is minimized as well since the bar is in front of you and can’t be moved; this takes the load off the lower back and is joint-friendly on the knees.
For the experienced lifters, the landmine squat might seem like a joke. But before you judge them as such, I suggest you incorporate them into your training before you shuffle them off as a movement reserved for the novice.
1. Landmine squat
In attempt to improve squatting mechanics, the goblet squat is a typical solution. However, if the lifter still struggles with forward knee travel, and a bent over torso, the landmine squat is a superior exercise. Since the landmine squat is anteriorly loaded, along with a bar path that travels in an arc, it results in a reinforced upright torso and minimal forward knee travel. These two aspects are the most common issues it poor squatting form.
You’ll notice in the video that I can achieve the proper depth while maintaining an upright torso, with minimal forward knee travel. The landmine squat is an awesome exercise for squat mechanics and can be utilized for explosive quad development without much stress on the lower back.
2. 1 1/4 landmine squat
The purpose of the 1 1/4 squat is to strengthen the bottom-most part of the squat, assisting a lifter with learning the proper recovery position. For most lifters who struggle with squat mechanics, getting out of the hole in a squat is where they tend to fold at the hip. For quad development, the 1 1/4 landmine squat will blast your quads due to the increased time under tension.
You’ll notice in the video that execution is the same as the traditional landmine squat until I recover out of the bottom of the squat. I recover only partially (about to parallel or slightly below), keeping proper positioning (upright torso, weight in heels, and minimal forward knee travel) and return to the bottom, then I recover fully.
3. Landmine sumo squat
I still wonder why the landmine sumo squat hasn’t made its way in the circuit of the most popular exercises. With minimal load on the lower back, and a grip that can accommodate any lifter regardless of extremity length, the landmine sumo squat may be the best kept secret when it comes to hip-hinge movements. The way I like to prescribe the landmine sumo squat targets the hamstrings and glutes instead of the quads. Thus, the set up and execution will be slightly different.
You’ll notice in the video, that my set up starts with a stance just slightly outside my shoulders with a grip that is inside my feet (any pulling movement where the grip is established inside your feet is referenced as “sumo”). From the floor you initiate the pull by activating your hamstrings and driving your hips up. During the entire movement, think of your arms as cables. They are there for support, not to lift the barbell up. At the top of the movement squeeze your glutes.
4. Landmine split squat
Offset loading, like split squats, are great because it increases glute and quad recruitment while also building core and hip stability. This movement is awesome, but you have been warned. With proper loading and volume, this movement brings the pain. While the landmine split squat still reinforces proper mechanics, it can be loaded with enough weight to induce some serious muscle growth in your lower body.
You’ll notice in the video that my grip and set up from the waist up is the same as the traditional landmine squat. However, instead taking a regular squat stance, transition into a split stance, or lunge position. From here, you’ll squat back and down keeping an upright torso with the weight in your mid-foot.
5. Landmine thrusters
If you’ve never heard of the thruster your time has come my friend. The landmine thruster should be utilized as a finishing movement. It reinforces proper squatting from and allows for a more natural movement pattern in comparison to doing thrusters with a barbell in the front rack position.
Establish your landmine squat position. Initiate by squatting down, pushing your hips back while staying in your heels. Once you get to the bottom of your squat, explode out from the hole and once you are almost fully extended in the knees and hips, thrust the barbell out in front of your head to finish the movement. Return the barbell to starting position and repeat.
When to use the landmine squat variations
Landmine squat variation can be used in a variety of ways, including;
- As a stand-alone lower body workout.
- For experienced lifters, landmine squat variations can serve as great way to augment their squatting or pulling movements.
- For novice lifers, landmine squat variations can help develop proper movement mechanics while still providing enough load to build muscle.
- For those with pre-existing joint issues, or mobility restrictions.
- For taller lifers who have problems staying upright and severe forward knee travel when they squat.
- For hypertrophy, use the landmine squat variations in the 10-20 rep range.
- For strength and mechanical improvement in the squat, use the landmine squat variations in the 6-8 rep range.
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