Do you think that guy on the beach with a huge upper body and skinny legs looks good, strong or even functional? Neither do we. The best way to avoid chicken legs is to incorporate squats into your workout.
Best Squat Variations
This is the classic squat and is the king of exercises. It is one of the most - if not the most - important strength training exercise. The back squat engages the posterior chain and helps increase the size, shape and strength of the quads, glutes and hamstrings. It helps to stimulate growth hormones, IGF-1 and burns a tonne of calories.
How to perform a back squat
- Find a squat rack and barbell.
- Grab the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width. Step under the bar and rest it just below the top of your traps. This is a natural cushion.
- Pull your shoulder blades together to tighten your upper back.
- Stand up and take a step away from the rack.
- As you bend your knees, push your hips back, keep the back tight and chest up at all times. The lower back should be arched.
- You have reached the bottom of the squat when the crease in your hips is level or below your knee. Drive up, pushing the weight through the back of your feet, extending through the hips until back in your starting position.
Tip - If the barbell is a little daunting, try squatting using a long stick or no barbell at all.
This is a great variation that has become more popular with the growth of Crossfit. More emphasis is placed on the quads than the back squat.
How to perform a front squat
- Again, find a squat rack and barbell.
- Place your right hand on your right shoulder and left hand on your left shoulder. Keep your elbows up and marginally wider than shoulder-width
- Walk towards the bar, and rest it on the front of your shoulders.
- Stand up and take a step back from the rack.
- Bend your knees, keeping the elbows and head up at all times.
- Drive up - you should feel the weight through your heels. Again keep your elbows and head up.
Tip - The front squat can also be performed using kettle bells or dumbbells.
This is an advanced squat that is closely linked with the Snatch - an Olympic lift. Mastering the snatch takes formidable overhead squat form and strength. It helps improve motor control and mobility while looking awesome on the gym floor.
How to perform an overhead squat
- Hold the bar with a wide grip. Snatch the bar into position or press the bar upwards so it is directly above your centre of gravity.
- Perform a squat, as before. Keep your chest up and back tight - but this time you will need to keep your shoulders activated with the bar raised directly overhead.
Tip - Barbells are best but a ViPR log, dumbbells or kettle bells are great when starting out. Practice on a broomstick until you are comfortable with the movement.
Correct form is the key to avoiding injury. If you sacrifice form to lift heavier weights, then you will hurt yourself. If you can’t train then you’ll lose out on gains!
Most importantly... NEVER SKIP LEGS DAY!!