The squat is a classic lower body exercise known for working the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. A squat can be incorporated into any exercise routine. You can perform them without weight, on exercise machines, with dumbbells, or with a barbell.
While you may be be familiar with the standard squat, the idea of using a squat as the basis for more challenging exercises that target more muscle groups may be new to you. If you need some variety in your lower body strength training routine, try these squat exercises.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend the knees as you push your bottom back, like you are going to sit in a chair. Lower to the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor, or as close as you can get to this position. In order to prevent knee injuries, it is important to keep the knees from extending past the tip of your toes during squat exercises. Hold for about two seconds and then squeeze your glute muscles and push through your heels as you slowly raise back to the starting position.
Stand with your feet together. Squeeze your legs together and bend the knees as push your bottom back and squat down, like you are going to sit in a chair. Lower to the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor, or as close as you can get to this position. Squeeze the inner thighs and glutes as you stand back up into the starting position.
Squat with a Leg Lift
For this exercise you will perform a standard squat. As you stand up from the squat position, shift the weight to your left foot and lift your right leg out to the side for a standing leg lift. Lift just to the point where you feel the muscles of your bottom and the hips engage. Lower the leg to the starting position. Repeat the squat and this time lift your left leg. Continue to squat and alternate leg lifts.
For this exercise, you will also perform a standard squat. Once you are lowered into the squat position, push through your heels to jump up and propel yourself into the air. Land in the starting position, repeat the squat and jump.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Shift your weight to your right foot. Bend your left knee to lift your left foot off the floor. Slowly bend your right knee and move into a squat position on your right leg, pushing your bottom back. Lower as far as you can, working towards getting your right thigh parallel to the floor. This exercise is very challenging so you may only be able to lower a little bit when starting out. You can also place your hand on a sturdy chair or wall to help keep your balance during the movement. To make the exercise more challenging, extend your left leg out in front of you as you squat down and back up. Switch sides and repeat the squats on your left leg.