The Squat. The King of Exercises! What other form of weightlifting can boast such a reputation for strength training supremacy? What other weight lifting exercise works the entire body from head to toe? What other exercise includes 40 iterations of the same basic movement and principles, each rendition slightly modified to tweak ever so slightly the angles, levers, and muscle groups targeted in the exercise? Indeed the squat is a remarkable, special breed of strength training exercise that can be performed both as a Power Lift – where massively heavy weight is used for resistance – or as a bodyweight exercise where the only form of resistance is gravity pulling down your love handles.
The squat is a compound lift meaning it works more than one muscle group during the exercise. Many confuse compound lifts with compound exercises – those that combine two lifts into a single fluid exercise – mistakenly thinking of squats as isolation lifts because they ‘only target’ the lower body. This couldn’t more untrue and a simple observation of a professional squatters trapezius muscles will put to rest any misnomer that the squat is simply a lower body exercise. Shouldering twice (sometimes 3 x’s) one’s body weight and squatting the load in a controlled manner below a 90 degree angle and back up again imposes physical demands on the body that can’t be overcome without the help of anterior and posterior antagonist muscle chains working synchronously to stabilize the body and allow the athlete to execute the maneuver.
All forms of squatting provide profound strength benefits to the thighs, hips and buttocks, and to a lesser extent the hip flexors and abdominals. However some forms of squatting are better than others at targeting other certain muscle groups and increasing, or decreasing, the range of motion and resistance applied to the target muscles. Below are all the different forms of squatting.
The most popular form of squat, the classic squat, THE SQUAT that most think of when visualizing the exercise is the Back Squat. Of all the different forms and unique techniques applied to this king of exercises, the Back Squat ground zero, setting the benchmark by which all other leg strength when they hear the word squat.
Because this form physically requires the barbell to rest of the back of the athlete’s shoulders, it not only works the shoulder muscles better than any other form, the stance and position of the barbell also allow for maximum payload. For these reasons the front squat is generally viewed as the best form for producing gains in quadricep and and hamstring muscle strength.
Also called a ‘heel squat’ or an ‘inverted leg press’ can be performed using either a barbell or a Smith Machine heel squat)
Compound muscle lift very similar to a Thruster (at the more advanced levels) but is easily scalable down to the beginner level using light dumbbells. There are various forms and different types of weights can be used for this exercise, including kettlebells and Olympic barbells however the most common form of the exercise is with the use of dumbbells.
Bulgarian Split Squat
Bodyweight Squats (no weight)
Also called ‘one legged squats’