6 Best Squat Exercise Variations for Wheels of Steel
The day that some dreadfully frown upon…
The day that others look to with brazen excitement…
The day that everyone respects no matter their circumstances…
Leg day is the most joked about, and frequently skipped workout of the week. While some may think that legs are not an important aspect of an aesthetic physique, true gym rat aficionados unabashedly know that the legs are the wheels to the machine that is the human body.
Oversized quads and well-developed hamstrings are the true desire of professional bodybuilders. While some dream of big arms, hardcore bodybuilders crave those wheels of steel.
Legs can be built and developed with several different exercises, but none have the same effectiveness as the squat. The squat is a leg-dominant, core-driven, intense movement that engages the entire body simultaneously.
The squat is a simplistic, primal movement that is easy to do yet difficult to master. You must focus on keeping a neutral spine, reaching sufficient depth, and practice proper breathing techniques. You most likely are familiar with the squat but are you aware of the several different variations?
Let’s take a look at some of the different squat techniques you should be incorporating into your leg day routine.
Movement specialist Dr. Stu helps you to master the basics of the barbell back squat.
6 Squat Variations for Bigger Legs
#1 – Barbell back squat
The most basic squat movement. The back squat is a staple for powerlifters and bodybuilders (some of them) alike.
The back squat involves loading plates to a barbell, placing the bar on the traps and moving downwards, engaging the core while focusing on quad activation.
The barbell back squat is one of the first movements a beginning lifter should attempt to perfect. This will lay the foundation for building leg strength and muscle.
#2 – Front squat
The front squat is performed in a similar manner as the back squat but the bar is placed upon the deltoids and held either in an Olympic fashion (wrists bent backwards) or in a x-crossbar manner.
The front squat places less stress on the lower back and further increases quad activation with less focus on the hamstrings. As a secondary benefit the front squat may also aide in increasing your deadlift strength.
#3 – Goblet squat
The goblet squat involves holding a moderate weight dumbbell in a vertical position with both hands underneath the weight and the palms facing upwards. Another method is simply grabbing the dumbbell with both hands by the center bar and holding it.
As you perform the movement concentrate on embracing the core and not rounding the lower back. These will also help improve lower back strength in the spinal erectors and multifidus. If back injuries are a problem for you starting with the goblet squat may be the best way to go.
#4 – Sumo squat (dumbbell)
The sumo squat is similar to the goblet squat in the sense that you are holding a dumbbell in a vertical manner. The main difference is that the weight is held from the top portion with the palms facing downwards towards the ground.
Bring the weight all the way down until the bottom of the weight touches the ground. This variation is another that is useful when recovering from back injuries.
#5 – Paused squats
If your back squat strength has plateaued recently, implementing the paused squat may assist in increasing your overall squat strength. Pause squats can be used while performing front or back squats.
At the bottom of the repetition hold the position in a paused fashion for 1-3 seconds. Use about 50-60% of your one rep max on this movement. You will be focusing more on the contraction and less on the overall weight.
#6 – Box squats
Another squat variation that will increase overall squat strength is the box squat. Grab a wooden box or bench and place it underneath you while performing the movement. As you move downwards sit on the bench briefly then continue moving upwards to complete the repetition.
The box squats should also be performed with lighter weight 60-70% of your one rep max. Box squats act as a great form of assistance work after performing your main squat working sets.
Time to Squat
Don’t be one of those guys that end up in a meme for having chicken legs. Perfect your squat movement pattern and progressively your legs will become so massive it may be difficult to simply find pants that fit properly.
Remember… Friends don’t let friends skip leg day.
Follow me on Instagram @ryanrodal and subscribe to my YouTube channel MuscleMinds for more great workout advice and nutritional information.