Squats Squats Squats

Squats are a key component to most classes and gym sessions. Whether it’s a HIIT session, strength session or your pre-season you’ll always find squats as a main element of the program. A squat can reveal a lot about a person so physios and trainers love them. Squats test your ankles, knees and hip mobility as well as your core, legs and glute strength. They are brilliant for hypertrophy (building muscle), strength endurance and maximal strength. It can be utilized as a power exercise and to train unilaterally in a single leg squat. As you can see, squats are one of the kings of the exercise world. So many gains!!

There are so many variations of squats available to you. Which one do you choose? Which one should you choose? There is no right answer but to try out a few. Don’t let your programs be boring and mundane! I’ve broken down 3 very different squats to show you how each one of them has the benefits of strengthening your core, glutes and quads but also test your body in 3 different ways.

Goblet Squat

As a trainer this is my starting point with every new client or group. It can be done with a dumbbell or kettlebell. A goblet squat shows me, as a trainer, my clients’ strengths and weaknesses and from there we build.

Holding the dumbbell or kettlebell in a goblet position engages the shoulders before you squat. Hugging the weight close to the chest forces you to pull those shoulders back, activating your rotator cuff, spinal, pec, and scapular muscles. As you squat, the weight will want to pull your chest forward. To counter balance this, the erector spinae group, trapezius, latissimus dorsi all have to contract to ensure your back doesn’t crumble into a forward flexed and rounded position. Which means you are strengthening your shoulders and core. This is an important aspect of any squat if you want to go on and lift heavy front or back squats.

Single Leg Squat

When we think squat we think big heavy double leg exercise. A single leg squat can be hugely beneficial to our strength, balance and coordination. Sometimes when we squat one leg or one side of the body can be stronger than the other. The stronger side can dominate the double leg squat making our gains subtly disproportionate. At the beginning this doesn’t really affect our squat but as time goes on and we want to steadily increase our load on our squats. This difference in our legs can hold us back or potentially lead to injury. Single leg squats can help correct this by making each leg work on their own to strengthen.

Apart from strength gains, single leg squats improve our ankle, knee and hip mobility. It is a very challenging exercise. This is a must to anyone looking to improve their squats, preventing injury or looking add variation to their gym workouts. Some might even say cruel addition!

Squat to Press:

This exercise can be done with one dumbbell, two dumbbells, one kettlebell, two kettlebells, or a barbell. Anything you can comfortably lift over your head!

This exercise is exhausting. It requires great strength and great power as well as upper body and lower body work. It should be done with speed. If this exercise is slow the explosiveness of the exercise is diminished. My advice would be to load this weight as much as you want as long as you can move that weight fast. This one is not about lifting as heavy as you can! Work on your squat technique and single leg squat before you do this exercise.

Squats are a multi-joint exercise that work your core, glutes, quads, shoulders and back. There is no right squat, all squats have brilliant benefits for many muscles in your body. My advice would be to change your squats regularly to challenge your head and body. Constantly asking your body to perform different movements and types of squats ensures great strength gains. Yaay squats!

Give these variations a try and let me know how you get on! Aoife