5 Types of Squats to Master

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INTRO

The squat is one of the most critical exercises that all guys need to include in their workout program. Not only does the squat work all the major muscles in the lower body, but it also stimulates a large growth hormone release, thus helping your upper body develop as well.

It is important to remember that there are several squat variations, and depending on the variation you choose to perform, the results you experience will be slightly different.

Furthermore, when you periodically change the type of squat that you do, you will see continual muscular improvements that result from the slightly different stimulus received during each movement.

Below are five different squat variations that you should strive to master.
1- Power squat
The power squat primarily targets your glutes and hamstring muscles, but it also works the lower back slightly. This squat variation is a great alternative for those who are looking for a variation to the more traditional exercises, such as hamstring curls and deadlifts.

Generally, you should be able to lift a slightly heavier weight during the power squat, which makes it ideal for those who are trying to maximize leg development. If you’re in this group, you will want to regularly include this exercise in your program.

The power squat requires a smaller angle between the upper body and the lower body, than do traditional squats. As such, you will need to lean forward and shift your weight slightly backward to really target in on the glutes. Also, when setting up this lift, the bar should be resting on the back, upper portion of the shoulders. The placement of your hands will be a personal choice, but most will use a narrower grip unless flexibility is an issue.

Your head should also be kept up, with the shoulders back and the chest out -- this will help to keep your back straight and prevent injuries. The stance you take will also be a personal preference: Some people are able to squat really well using a narrow stance squat, while others prefer a wide stance. The most important factor is that you are able to maintain your correct balance and form, so use the stance that allows you to do this the best. Your toes should be pointed outward, at about a 45-degree angle. This will help to keep the weight distributed over your base.

Once you have this starting position ready, slowly begin to squat down, until your rear is about even with your knees, and press up to complete a single rep.

The power squat focuses on building power and you’ll want to work in a rep range that is conducive to this. Perform 4 to 5 sets of about 3 to 6 reps.

2- Olympic squat
The Olympic squat focuses on putting you through a greater range of motion, which allows you to develop strength that can be better utilized in a variety of positions, not only in a select range of motion. This squat also does a good job of balancing the load placed on the quads and hamstrings, making it a more all-inclusive exercise. With the power squat, you would likely need to perform an additional movement to hit the quad muscles, whereas, with the Olympic squat, you can use it for both quads and hamstrings. Finally, this exercise is a better choice for those who have lower back pain, as there’s less pressure placed on that part of the body.

When performing the Olympic squat, you should aim to dip your rear a little lower and keep your upper body more upright.

Many guys will also go slightly lower, in terms of knee bend, than with the power squat. If you have knee problems, however, it may be wise to take a more moderate approach to how low you go so that you avoid putting too much stress on this joint.

The Olympic squat’s position resembles the power squat, with the bar resting on the back and shoulders and a grip and foot placement that feels comfortable to you. Once you find this stance, lean forward slightly and squat down as low as you can go before pushing up once again. It is especially good to have a spotter when performing the Olympic squat in case you get stuck at the bottom of the movement.

The rep range depends on the goals. If you are looking for power, aim for 3 to 6 reps and if you are looking to gain muscle, aim slightly higher (about 6 to 10 reps). Again, do about 4 to 5 sets.

3- Wide stance-turned out squat
The wide-stance turned out squat targets the inner thigh muscle more than it does the outer quad. This squat is also great for those who are naturally more turned out in the hips, as the knee tracking feels more natural. This movement also places less stress on the lower back since you will maintain an upright position for the most part.

When performing this squat, place your legs slightly wider than shoulder width apart and angle your toes outward. The bar should rest on your shoulders and your hands in a relatively wide grip range. Keep your head up and sink into the squat position; think of pressing the knees slightly in the outward direction to ensure they move over the toes. If you find that they aren't tracking properly, that is a good indication your toes are turned out too far and you should move them slightly inward.

Squat down until you are as low as you can go, however, note that you will not be able to go as low as with an Olympic or a power squat. Once you've reached the bottom, press the weight back up once again.

This squat is less intense than others, so you’ll likely want to do an additional quad movement. For this reason, use it as an accessory exercise and aim to perform 2 to 3 sets of 6 to 10 reps.

4- Front squat
The front squat is performed with the bar resting in front of the body, unlike the three previous squats described. This means that, since the weight is focused in front of the body, your quads are really going to get worked. You will also need to slightly adjust your balance to place the majority of your body weight over your toes.

This is a great exercise to perform for those who participate in sports that require you to be in the “ready” position quite often, as it has a similar balance profile and will help improve muscular endurance for those sports.

When doing a front squat, balance the bar right over your collar bone area and use either an underhand or overhand grip, depending on personal preference. Keep the weight over the front of your toes and squat down until your thighs are about parallel or slightly lower to the floor. Pause in this position for a second and then return to the start. Make sure you remember to breathe while doing this exercise.

Front squats are great for adding strength and size to your legs, so you will want to work in a rep range that encourages this. Perform 3 to 5 sets of 8 reps. Once you’re comfortably able to do these 8 reps, increase the weight and decrease the reps to 5 and build up to 8.

5- Split squat
The split squat is good for those who tend to be weaker in one leg since you will be working each leg individually.

This version of the squat predominately targets the glutes, while the quads and hamstrings act as synergists. The farther out you place the leg you are working, the more you will take the pressure off the quad and place it on the hamstrings, so that is something to keep in mind depending on what muscle group you are aiming to work.

To perform the split squat, take two dumbbells (or rest a barbell across your back) and find a bench to place your rear foot on. Keep your body weight over the front (standing) leg and bend that leg until you reach a position where your knee is at about a 90-degree angle. Once you are as low as you can comfortably go, push yourself up using the glutes.

The split squat is a great exercise to add to another, more stable, squat movement and as such, perform 2 to 3 sets of 8 and 10 reps.

Next time you have a leg workout scheduled in the gym, keep these variations in mind. You definitely do not need to perform them all in a single session, as that would likely set you up for overtraining and injury, but alternating between them over a few sessions is a great way to keep making progress.

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