Squats – Technique and Variations
The Barbell Squat is a huge compound exercise that makes up a key part of any well designed workout schedule. Read through this article for a step by step guide on how to perform this exercise safely, correctly and with perfect form for the greatest results.
The Barbell Squat is a great exercise for targeting your quadriceps. They also massively activate and strengthen your core muscles and engage just about every other muscle in your lower body including Gluteals, Hamstrings and Calves. This ensures the squat lives on as the a staple part of any well planned Gym routine.
- Hold the bar across your upper back with an overhand grip, set your feet shoulder width apart and have your shoulders pulled back so that the bar rests comfortably on the shelf created by your shoulder blades.
- Your lower back should have a natural and comfortable arch with your abs engaged to support your spine.
- Keeping your lower back arched, lower your body as deep as you can, initiate the movement by first pushing your hips back, then bending your knees.
- The tops of your thighs should be parallel with the floor or (at most) slightly lower and your torso should stay as upright as possible.
- Pause briefly at the bottom, then reverse this movement and return to the starting position. When pushing back up, drive your heels into the floor.
Squats – Technique and Variations – Barbell Squat Variants:
- Wide-Stance Barbell Squat
- Barbell Front Squat
- Crossed-Arm Front Barbell Squat
- Barbell Stiff Squat
- Barbell Hack Squat
- Barbell Jump Squat
There are a multitude of other exercises that are essential for developing balanced strength across the whole lower body. Exercises that strengthen lateral movements, improve joint stability and build balance along the full length of the leg are essential to reduce the risk of injuries and improve functionality. Your legs are your contact with the ground and, therefore, must be capable of dynamic movements in every direction, offering stability and balance as well as improving your capabilities when it comes to heavy compound movements (multi muscle group movements), plyometrics with jumping, sports conditioning and upper body movements (where the strengths are required for balance and stability).
Squats – Technique and Variations – Other exercises that can be beneficial for developing strength across your legs are:
- Calf Raises
- Side Lunges
- Reverse Lunges
- Lateral Leg Raises
- Sumo Squats
- Leg Extensions (machine)
- Leg Press (machine)
- Hamstring Curl (machine)
- Pistol Squats
- Hip Adductor (machine)
- Hip Abductor (machine)
- Donkey Kicks
Remember that variety is essential in building the most functional, dynamic and capable leg muscles possible. Try attacking the legs from as many angles as possible, varying resistance, repetition and sets as well as trying to include as much exercise variety as possible.
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