8 Squat Variations for Strong, Sculpted Legs & Glutes

By , SparkPeople Blogger
If you only have time for one strength exercise, many fitness experts agree that it should be the squat. This low-impact move works the quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves, but its benefits go far beyond muscle work. Making squats part of your daily routine also helps to strengthen the joints, boosts cardio endurance and builds a strong core. And best of all, you don't need a gym, any equipment or a big chunk of time to get your squatter's rights: Almost anyone can do them—anytime, anywhere.
 
"Squats are extremely good for you no matter what the variation," says Morit Summers, celebrity trainer, Instagram influencer and owner of FORM Fitness. "We squat every day without realizing it, from picking things up off the ground to sitting in a chair. It affects so many muscle groups and is one of the most important movements we do."
 
You're probably already familiar with the basic squat, which is awesome in and of itself—but once you've got that down (pun intended), there are plenty of other fun, challenging and boredom-busting variations of this versatile move. So go on—get your squat on!

Pulse Squat

Anna Larsen, certified personal trainer and Fit Body Boot Camp owner
  1. A pulse squat is a variation on a regular bodyweight or air squat that stays in the flexed position for a longer period of time, increasing tension on the glutes.
  2. Start with your legs shoulder width apart, back upright and abs held in.
  3. Lower to a squat and hold this position, only coming up about 1/4 of the way, and pulsing the squat, slowly, about one pulse per breath.
  4. Do 10-12 repetitions.
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Kettlebell Goblet Squat with Bicep Curl


Fitness trainer Morit Summers
 
A kettlebell goblet squat helps teach proper squat form. Many people tend to round their back when squatting. Holding a weight in front helps to keep the chest up and the back engaged. Holding the pause squat keeps your muscles under tension longer, which is always beneficial
when building strength.
  1. Stand up holding the kettlebell by the handles with feet in your squat stance and thumbs up toward the ceiling.
  2. Sit your hips back and drive your knees out. Once you’ve sat just below your hip crease, your elbows should be pressing your knees out and rested against your inner thighs.
  3. From there, keep your chest up and back tight while you do a bicep curl with the kettlebell.
  4. Once the kettlebell has returned to the top, return to a standing position.
  5. Do 10-12 repetitions.
 

Skier Squat


Anna Larsen, certified personal trainer and Fit Body Boot Camp owner
 
Skier, or close squats, tone the inner thigh muscles to reduce "thigh jiggle" and provide balance for the iliotibial band, or IT band, which is a tendon on the outer thigh that can contribute to back, hip and knee pain if it gets too tight.
  1. Begin with your feet close together and lower to a squat. To maintain proper form, focus on your hips going backwards rather than your knees bending.
  2. You can put your arms straight out in front to maintain balance, and it helps to look in a mirror to keep your back in position.
  3. Inhale as you lower and exhale as you come up, thinking of your heels pushing through to the floor.
  4. Do 10-12 repetitions.
 

Wide-Leg Squat


This squat focuses on the quads, glutes and inner thighs.
  1. Stand with the feet wider than shoulders, knees slightly bent and toes turned outward.
  2. Hold a dumbbell with both hands in front of your body.
  3. Squat until your thighs are nearly parallel to the floor, sticking your butt out as if sitting in a chair.
  4. Squeeze your glutes as you straighten your legs to starting position to complete one rep.
  5. Keep your abs contracted. Make sure your knees don't pass the line of the toes.
  6. Do 10-12 repetitions.
 

Goblet Squat to Press


Jill Brown, trainer with Jill Brown Fitness
 
This variation engages your core and also works the upper body in addition to the thighs and glutes.
 
  1. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in the "goblet position," just below the chin, at the upper chest.
  2. Perform a squat to 90 degrees or more (or as low as you can go while maintaining proper form). Try to touch the elbows to the thighs without lowering the bell. (For people with tighter hips, it helps to angle the toes out about 10 degrees.)
  3. Drive through the heels and press the kettlebell up simultaneously until arms are fully extended.
  4. Return to starting position.
  5. Do 10-12 repetitions.


Mini Band Squats


Anna Larsen, certified personal trainer and Fit Body Boot Camp owner
 
Increasing resistance of the basic squat can increase strength in the hip muscles, which helps overall stability, balance and strength. This is a classic toning exercise often used therapeutically, as well for knee, back and hip pain.
  1. Get a mini band (actually a large rubber band made for exercising) or tie the ends of a stretch exercise band together. Place the band around both legs so that it hits anywhere between the upper knee area to mid-thigh.
  2. Lower into a squat, maintaining form by imagining your hips/butt going backward and looking into a mirror to maintain back position.
  3. For another variation, you can side walk or shuffle a few steps back and forth.
  4. Do 10-12 repetitions. 


Single-Leg Squat with Chair


This variation works the quads and glutes, while isolating the muscles on alternating sides of the body.
  1. Stand behind a chair, holding the back of it for balance.
  2. Lift the right leg off the ground, keeping the left leg slightly bent.
  3. Bend the left leg to squat. Hold for one to three counts. Don't let the knee of the squatting leg go past the toes. Keep the upper body straight and avoid leaning forward as you squat down.
  4. Straighten the leg and return to the starting position.
  5. Complete 10-12 reps and switch legs.

Raised Heel Squats

Anna Larsen, certified personal trainer and Fit Body Boot Camp owner
  1. Raised heel squats shift the workload onto your quads, to help achieve a toned, lean look and to keep your lower body and back healthy.
  2. Put a wooden block or weight plates under your heels to elevate them slightly (one to three inches) and then lower into a squat.
  3. Maintain proper form by thinking of your hips/butt going backwards and look into a mirror (if you have one) to keep your back in position.
  4. Do 10-12 repetitions. 
 
Are you a squatter? What is your favorite squat exercise?

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Comments

TOMATOCAFEGAL 11/13/2018
wow, like this article a lot. thanks Report
PLATINUM755 11/8/2018
Thx! Report
ALEPEQUIJADA 11/7/2018
Thanks! Report
MURILLOTN 11/6/2018
I do squats while brushing my teeth. You can get quite a few in while doing that. It's an awesome exercise. Report
DEBVNE 11/3/2018
These are awesome, thanks so much. Report
SHOAPIE 11/3/2018
Thanks Report
_CYNDY55_ 11/2/2018
Thanks Report
DLDMIL 11/2/2018
Great variations
Report
SPINECCO 11/2/2018
Thanks for the information. Report
TAPESTRIES 11/2/2018
The woman doing the kettlebell squat is using poor form. Her knees are too far over her toes, putting excess strain on the knees. Her butt appears to be directly over her heels. She should be sitting back further, and her knees should not extend beyond her toes.

If you're going to have "professional" trainers demonstrating exercises, please make sure they are using the correct form. Report
CECTARR 11/2/2018
My knees don't let me do that anymore Report
LIS193 11/2/2018
Thank you Report
97MONTY 11/2/2018
Thanks Report
SOUTHTXXRNNR 11/2/2018
Squats make the booty pop. Love all these but also like the plyo poo squat and jump squats. Toss in a squat of any kind on a bosu ball and challenge your core and stability. Report
POETLKNG2LOSE 11/2/2018
Thanks for the suggestions but I cannot squat that low yet and I cannot do a standing squat or raise a dumbbell or kettle bell over my head because of my shoulders. Report
TAYGRL 11/2/2018
These are all great! Report
LEANJEAN6 11/2/2018
The pictures really help-Thank yu! Report
AZMOMXTWO 11/2/2018
thank you Report
AMYRCMK 11/2/2018
Thank you Report
DMEYER4 11/2/2018
thanks Report
TCANNO 11/2/2018
good info Report
SUNSET09 11/1/2018
I’ve been doing a 100 squats a day challenge with a friend. These will keep me faithful and going strong, SparkFriend. Thx Report
ANHELIC 10/30/2018
Thank you for the help Report
AVROIEN 10/29/2018
I will be doing some of these regularly Report
RAPUNZEL53 10/29/2018
Thanks. Report
HEALTHYANDFIT27 10/27/2018
Love these! Thank you! Report
RHOOK20047 10/25/2018
Good info Report
ARNETTELEE 10/25/2018
great info Report
GABY1948 10/25/2018
GREAT! Report
KHALIA2 10/25/2018
Thank you for this great info. I will now include a squat while excercising. Report
JANIEWWJD 10/25/2018
Awesome squat variations!!! Report
ZRIE014 10/25/2018
helpful Report