Corey Grant PT Coach
Shut up and Train

Squat Variations

In the last article I talked about the benefits of the Squat and what it can do when properly implemented into your fitness regiment.

Now I will give you a list of variations on the Squat and there level of difficulty

Back Squat: Beginner

This is the traditional Squat, Bar on the back , feet about shoulder width apart, and the depth is parallel

Olympic/ High Bar/ Bodybuilder Squat: Intermediate

This is the squat, as in the name, generally preferred by Olympic weight lifters and Bodybuilder. Olympic weight lifters prefer it because a number of their competition lifts are done with this stance. Bodybuilders like it because it places more emphasis on the Quads for extra development. The difference here is the bar is set a tad higher on the shoulders, and the feet are closer together. The depth on this on is as low as you can go, “Rock Bottom” aka “Ass to calfs” is the general slang term for this depth. Here are a few issues i have with that. Many people lack proper flexibility to hit this depth without technique flaws. Normally hips are too tight, and they have excessive forward lean which is trouble for the back. The Hamstrings can be too tight, and cause the hips to flex under at the bottom of the lift which can place unnecessary stress on the spine. Even for people who have proper hip and hamstring mobility there is another issue. When you go to where your hamstrings touch your calfs and past it some, a strange thing happens in the knee. Force vectors change and compression is taken off the knee and it can actually begin to pull the knee apart, which is as bad as it sounds. So my recommendation is take it easy with this variation, until you can develop proper form, technique and mobility, and the lowest you should go it to where the tops of your thighs are parallel to the floor.

Power Squat: Intermediate

This is also called the Powerlifter Squat, because it is the same technique used by many powerlifters in their training and competitions. This version is done with the bar placed lower on the shoulders, more on the upper back, and your stance is wider than shoulder width, and you really sit back in this version. Squatting like this allows you to handle a great deal more weight than any other version of the squat. Also this shifts a lot of the stress to the powerful muscles on the hips, glutes and hamstrings. A problem that will arise here, as in many of the versions of the squat, is hip mobility. Many people will have to turn there toes out slightly in order to hit the desired depth. Takes some practice and mobility work. This is a great version, that once u have learned the technique properly, you can really load up and challenge yourself

Front Squat: Advanced

This is a widely popular squat use amongst bodybuilders and Athletes. This squat is performed with the bar sitting across the front of your shoulders, and is held in place with an arm over grip or “clean” style grip. This loading takes a lot of pressure off of the spine, and causes the abs to go insane. Its popular with bodybuilders cause it can shift a lot of the focus to the quads, and its popular with athletes as a great core strengthener as well. This lift takes some time to learn how to properly hold the weight, and it will take some coordination to get the lift down and some time for your abs to get stronger to allow you to increase weight. for obvious reasons you will not be able to handle as much weight on the front Squat as you can on the Back Squat, but it can be just as effective in developing leg mass and strength

Box Squat: All levels

I like this version of the Squat and I have to give it all level rating. This is basically a Squat done sitting back on a box, pausing for a count, then squat back up. I use this for many first time clients to teach the proper technique in the squat in how to sit back and hit proper depth. I use this with clients ive had for a while to reinforce technique and a change of pace. Ive used this with Collegiate Athletes and Powerlifters, with chains and bands attached to the bar to increase Power in their legs. This version of the squat can be modified for any desired result.

Overhead Squat: Advance

This is without a doubt the most difficult of all the squat variations. You do a Squat while holding the barbell over head. This is more of a mobility exercise than one done for development. I use this as a test for clients to judge muscle imbalances, and as a test for coordination within my athletes. This is not a squat i advise you to load up the weight with and go crazy, but its a great mobility exercise and total body warm up.

Goblet/DB Squat: Beginner

This is a fave for many of my female clients, its simple and reinforces proper form. This is a front squat that is done with a Dumbbell rather than a barbell. You have a wide range of loading u can use, and its not as “intimidating” as the barbell and you can still get good results with this squat. If you do not sit back properly with this squat you will wind up flat on your face, which is not a good look for anyone.

Lumberjack Squat: Beginner

This unique version of the squat is another big fave of mine for both clients and myself. Take a barbell stick one end of it into a secure solid corner of a room, then you load weights on the other side. Lift the loaded side up to your chest, hold it with your hands in front of your body and squat in that fashion. Again like the goblet squat, reinforces good form because the barbell will push you back into position. This is a fun one to end a workout with and just knock out the reps

Sumo Squat: Intermediate

Just consider this as the love-child of the power squat and sumo deadlift. The bar position is that of the power squat, and the foot placement is that of the sumo deadlift, wide and toes pointed out. This greatly shifts the stress to the hips, hamstrings and glutes. Big favorite among many female clients

Barbell Hack Squat: Advanced

When many people think of the Hack Squat they think of the leg machine you lay in on the sled. The true original Hack squat was done with a Barbell. Introduced by legendary strongman George Hackenschmidt, hence the name Hack Squat, this is a very unique way to build the legs. It looks like a reverse deadlift, its practically a deadlift but you stand in front of the bar, squat down and grab the bar and lift it off of the floor. Personally I do not like this exercise for me, because my build is not conducive for it, im thick leg thick torso, short arm, so it is a real pain in the ass for me bio-mechanically to do this lift so therefore I skip it, but if your a long limed individual who has trouble gaining strength and size in their quads, then this will be a great exercise to do just that.

Sissy Squat: Advanced

Despite the name, this exercise is not for the faint of heart. Ive seen this exercise take many large men and turn them in to whinny little whimps. Its odd this exercise has the name of a Squat because its not a traditional squat bio-mechanically speaking. The reason it has the name “Sissy” squat has nothing to do with discriminating slurs. Just take a trip to Greek mythology and the character named Sisyphus, who was punished by Zeus to have to push a boulder up a never ending hill, After doing this for a number of years, the quad development on this guy was ridiculous. Google him to get a picture. Now this version is done by holding a bar or stable pole for resistance. Get up on your toes then proceed to bend your knees and lean back keeping your torso and thigh in a straight line lean back as far as you can then flex the quads back to the top. This is a very unassuming exercise but very demanding.

Well there ya go, a nice long list of mighty variations to help kick your leg training into over drvie for this new year

Ignite the Fire in your life

Corey Grant


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