Do these six squat vari­a­tions for whole-body ben­e­fits – and to en­sure you keep mak­ing gains

Men's Fitness - - Fast Track | Squat Guide -

The back squat is a clas­sic lower body ex­er­cise and should be a cor­ner­stone of your re­sis­tance train­ing pro­gramme – but it’s not the only ver­sion of the move that you should have in your train­ing toolkit. Each of the six op­tions de­scribed on the right, with ex­pert in­sights from top per­sonal trainer Er­ron Dus­sard (stoneim­, of­fers their own ben­e­fit, whether that’s an added bi­ceps chal­lenge cour­tesy of a Zercher squat or the shoul­der sta­bil­ity and co-or­di­na­tion chal­lenge that comes with an over­head squat.


FORM With a bar on your back and your feet shoul­der-width apart, bend at the hips and knees to lower to­wards the floor. Straighten up, keep­ing your weight on your heels. TIP “It’s com­mon to see guys load­ing up on the squat rack and per­form­ing half squats,” says Dus­sard. “That may be good for their ego but to achieve max­i­mum mus­cle re­cruit­ment, a good squat will see your hips drop below the knee.”


FORM Squat with the bar on the front of your shoul­ders, palms fac­ing up. If you can’t get into this po­si­tion you need to work on your shoul­der mo­bil­ity by do­ing drills with a re­sis­tance band. TIP “The front squat trans­fers the fo­cus of the weight onto the quadri­ceps while also serv­ing to en­hance your core strength,” says Dus­sard. “As you lower, fo­cus on brac­ing your core mus­cles and keep­ing your el­bows up.”


FORM Start with the bar on your back and a knee-height box be­hind you. Squat down to sit on the box. Pause, then stand back up, mak­ing sure your core is switched on. TIP “This takes the mus­cle elas­tic­ity out of the move­ment – so there’s no bounc­ing up from the bot­tom – and pro­vides a true test of strength be­cause push­ing up from a com­pletely static po­si­tion leads to greater re­cruit­ment of the ham­strings,” says Dus­sard.


FORM Hold a dumb­bell or ket­tle­bell to your chest us­ing both hands then lower into a squat, con­cen­trat­ing on get­ting good depth. TIP “It’s eas­ier to main­tain your form than when you do a back squat,” says Dus­sard. “It’s a great way for begin­ners to learn how to squat be­cause you be­come more aware of your back po­si­tion­ing. It’s also a good squat vari­a­tion when you want to in­crease the vol­ume and do higher reps.”


FORM Go light on this one and start with the bar di­rectly over­head with your hands just wider than shoul­der-width apart. Keep it there as you bend at the hips and knees to lower into a squat, then stand up. TIP “This is a more ad­vanced squat vari­a­tion that boosts the strength and sta­bil­ity of the shoul­der joints,” says Dus­sard. “It re­quires good shoul­der mo­bil­ity so it’s re­ally im­por­tant to warm up your shoul­ders be­fore you start.”


FORM Po­si­tion a bar­bell in the crook of your arms, then per­form a squat. If that’s painful you can ei­ther use a towel to make it softer or you can stop com­plain­ing and get on with it. The choice is yours. TIP “This is a dif­fi­cult squat that can also be a lit­tle un­com­fort­able, but you’ll ben­e­fit from the re­cruit­ment of the bi­ceps and the up­per back mus­cles, which you don’t re­ally get from other vari­a­tions,” says Dus­sard.

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