This is your complete guide to the squat. This weight lifting exercise is one of my top 2 exercises and considered to be the king of all exercises by many experts.
Squats and deadlifts are my 2 top weight lifting exercises.
The best one for you will depend on the way you are built including limb lengths, muscle insertion points, muscle group variation, and more.
You'll soon find out which exercise works better for you BUT I highly recommend including both in your workout program.
The squat is one of the best exercises for building muscle and strength fast. When you increase the amount of weight you are lifting on this full body exercise, you will build muscle (100% without a doubt). When you get stronger on this amazing full body exercise, this means your entire body has increased strength.
If you aren't doing the squat in your current workout routine, you should have a VERY good excuse. You are missing out on amazing gains and progress by not including this GREAT weight training exercise.
An Overview of the Squat
Squat Overview. You need a good overview of the squat exercise so you understand why this weightlifting exercise is so important for your health.
– Squatting is Natural. The squat is the natural sitting position for the human body YET almost none of us use this position for rest. Most people don't even have the mobility required to do a squat.
– What Are Squats? Squats didn't start out as an exercise but as a resting position. Now, squats are one of the greatest overall weight lifting exercises. Squats do have a reputation as a risky exercise.
Why Should You Squat?
Why Squat? You should squat because squats provide a huge number of benefits. If you don't like improved health, improved mobility, an improved appearance, and a stronger overall body then you shouldn't do this exercise.
– Squat Benefits. Squats are a functional exercise meaning the better you get at this exercise the easier every day life will be for you. Squatting down to pickup a heavy box, groceries, or other things will be much easier for you.
– Squats Results. You'll find that your overall results will greatly improve when including squats in your weight lifting program. Take them out of your workout program and your results will decrease. That's a 100% guarantee.
– Squats to Lose Weight. The squat movement is not easy. It takes a lot of resources within your body to pull off a single rep of the squat. This means you are burning more calories when doing squats. Burning more calories will lead to weight loss.
Learning To Squat
Learning to Squat. If you don't know how to do squats properly, you need to take the time to learn. If you think you know how to already, you might not know as much as you think (as I did many years ago). Learning proper form and technique is top priority.
– How to do Squats. If you want to get the most out of every squat rep and never injure yourself, you need to know how to do the exercise perfectly.
– Squats Proper Form. You need to learn how to place the bar across your upper back, how to grip the bar, proper foot positioning, proper hip drive, and more. If you haven't been instructed by a top weight lifting coach, you probably don't know how to do squats properly.
– Top Squat Mistakes. I've personally witnessed so many different mistakes on squats that it makes me cringe. These are very common mistakes so make sure you know them and aren't making them yourself. Some of these mistakes can injure you very badly so learn them and don't make them.
– Squat Depth. How low should you go? A common mistake people make is performing anything less than a full squat. Many people load up the weight on the bar and do a quarter squat. They then go on message boards all over the internet and tell everyone how much weight they squatted.
– Squat Safety / Squat Fail. Before you start attempting this exercise or any exercise, you need to know how to do them safely. I've seen injuries first hand from people attempting this exercise without warming up properly, injuries from using too much weight, injuries from using the wrong equipment, and more.
– Full Squat. Please don't do half, quarter, or any type of squat that's less than a full squat. You can and will injure yourself if you continue to not do full squats. Full squats are perfectly healthy so don't let anyone else tell you different.
– Squat Technique. There are so many different squat techniques you need to know to help you get better at this exercise. Placing the bar on your back with a very tight upper back and narrow grip is one example that will instantly help you.
– Squat Tips. Over the years, I've learned many different squat tips that will certainly help you with this weight lifting exercise. How to ensure you're driving your hips will instantly increase the effectiveness of this exercise.
– Types of Squats. There are many different types of squats. I highly recommend you start with the basic barbell squat which also happens to be the low bar squat. If you don't have the proper weight lifting equipment available to do this type of squat, there are many other types that will fit your particular situation.
– Squat Heavy. Once you learn how to do the exercise properly, you should start with very light weights and work on increasing that weight from workout to workout. Only increase the weight when you perform all sets and reps with proper form and technique.
– Squat with Barbell. The squat can be performed without a barbell, with a barbell, with dumbbells, with a kettlebell or kettlebells, with a calf on your back, or with any type of resistance. I highly recommend the use of free weights, though, and especially a barbell.
– Squat Weight. How much weight do you use for this exercise? Start with zero weight. Use body weight squats only to start with. Make sure your form is absolutely perfect from setup, to start, to finish of the exercise. Once you have body weight form perfected, you can start increasing the amount of resistance you are using.
– Squat Warm-Up. How do you warm-up for squats? Before you head into your first heavy set of squats, your entire body must be warm and you must perform several warm up sets to acclimate your body to the heavier weight. I'll show you how to warm-up perfectly with mobility exercises and how to ramp the weight upwards while decreasing reps for your squat warm up.
– Squat Variations. Besides all the different types of squats, there are also many different squat variations you can try. These exercises are also very good for building muscle and strength throughout your body but especially in your lower body.
– Squats at Home. Squats can be done safely at home. If you don't have the proper equipment to perform the basic barbell squat, there are many other ways to do them at home. You can do them right now with just your body weight but you need a way to safely add weight to the exercise to get the most benefit.
– Squat Flexibility. In order to perform this exercise properly, you may need to increase flexibility. For example, some people will want to rise to their tippy toes when reaching the bottom position. This is due to a lack of flexibility in your ankles. You also might have shoulder flexibility issues or many others.
– Squat Max Calculator. Measuring the progress you're making on this exercise can easily be done with a squat max calculator. Simply plug in the amount of weight and the number of reps completed and the calculator will give you a 1-rep max estimate. Plug in the weight and reps for each workout to track your progress.
Weight Lifting Equipment for Squatting
Squat Equipment. Squats can be done in any power rack but there are other ways to do squats as well. I'll go over all of them (both the good ways and bad ways). I'll also go over some of the other equipment that will help with your squats.
– Squat Rack. A squat rack is a good alternative to a power rack. A power rack is always the first option but a squat rack can work well in many cases. A good rack was the first piece of equipment I purchased for my home gym in the year 2000. I recently upgraded to a power rack.
– Squat Machine. I am not a fan of machines for weight lifting at all. I much prefer free weights. Machines can be very expensive as well, not function correctly, don't fit your body size, and have many other issues. Do yourself a favor and don't use a machine. I injured myself when I first started lifting weights by using a Nautilus Squat Machine. I do not recommend.
– Squat Stands. Stands will take up much less space but aren't as safe as a power rack which includes safety spotter stands. A squat stand my work for you if you're tight on space but remember to be very cautious and safe when using stands versus a rack.
– Squat Suit. You'll typically see squat suits in powerlifting competitions. This suit can help improve performance while lifting. Some people might gain anywhere from 50 to an extra couple hundred pounds on their max squat when using a suit.
– Squat Bar. Any type of barbell can be used as a squat bar. I personally use an Olympic weight lifting barbell that is good for up to at least 700 pounds. Some bars can hold much more than that. Standard bars hold much less but are good for beginners if you can't afford or find an Olympic barbell set.
– Squat Box. Box squats require a good squat box. You can build your own as I did or purchase a set of boxes. The boxes can really help take your strength to an entirely new level by helping you increase strength in certain portions of the movement.
– Hack Squat Machine. You'll typically see these hack squat machines in commercial gyms. These machines are expensive and dangerous. I personally will never touch one of these machines. I recommend you do the same.
– Squat Belt. A squat belt can be a support belt that goes around your midsection that helps protect your lower back OR it can be a hip belt that can be used for adding weight around your waist for hip belt squats.
– Squat Cage. A power rack or power cage is sometimes called a squat cage. A power rack should be the center piece of every gym. A power cage is perfect for doing squats as it allows you to safely increase the weight you are lifting over time.
– Squat Pad. I personally don't recommend placing anything on the barbell so that it makes the exercise more comfortable for you. This includes a squat pad, towel, other padding, etc. There are some other good uses, though.
– Squat Harness. There are some new types of harnesses that make certain types of squats easier for you. For example, front squats can be uncomfortable for some due to the lack of flexibility in the wrists. If you work on flexibility in your wrists, the front squat will be easier. You might give a squat harness a try but I personally don't use any of them.
– Squat Rack for Sale. You need to make sure you have the right weight lifting equipment for safety reasons. Once you know how to squat that doesn't mean you're ready as you need to be able to do this exercise safely. You might be putting hundreds of pounds of weight directly on your upper back in the future and the right equipment is vital.
Squat Exercises. Most of the below weight lifting exercises can be used in any weight lifting program from WLC as a substitute for squats. WARNING: some of the exercises below are not approved WLC weight lifting exercises.
– Hack Squat. The old style barbell hack squat is one of my favorite weight lifting exercises and can be thought of as a reverse deadlift. It really hits the quadriceps very well so if you're looking to improve a weakness in your quads, this is a great exercise to do so. This weight lifting exercise has always allowed me to fatigue my quadriceps before my lower back.
– Front Squat You need some wrist flexibility to do the front squat properly. You can also cross your arms to hold the bar as well. The front squat is a great variation to use and an exercise you should work with once you get better at the low bar squat and increase your strength on that version. Then give the front squat a try for a few months.
– Barbell Squat. A barbell back squat is the basic version I talk about the most throughout the WLC website. A barbell allows you to safely add heavy weight to your workouts over time.
– Squat Thrust. The squat thrust is also known as the burpee exercise. Burpees are not a weight lifting exercise but a conditioning exercise. This is one of the best conditioning exercises in existence so if you're looking to improve your conditioning as explained in the WLC Workouts Manual, the thrust is a good exercise to incorporate into those workouts.
– Back Squat. When weight is placed on your back, this is considered to be a back squat. The back squat is the basic form you need to work on learning and perfecting. It's also one of the most taxing because of the huge number of muscle groups involved in getting this exercise right.
– Sissy Squat. I do not recommend the sissy squat just because it's very tough to add weight to this exercise safely. There are many other versions of the squat that will work much better than this one.
– Sumo Squat. The sumo squat is a very wide stance version of the squat. Many power lifters use this version to lift very heavy weight since the stronger and more powerful posterior chain is used to a greater extent in this version of the lift.
– Pistol Squat. Pistol squats are a very difficult version to perform and require much practice, strength increases in all the right muscle groups, and flexibility as well. Most people will have to practice to get these right. And it could take a while to get these down.
– Zercher Squats. Zercher squats are another one of my favorite squat variations. You do not need a rack or stands to do this version, though, it does make them easier to get into starting position. If you don't have a power rack at home, you should take a look at these. If you want to increase your core strength as well, this is a great exercise to incorporate.
– Goblet Squat. A goblet squat can really help you to learn correct form for the squat movement. It forces you in some ways into the correct posture and position for this movement.
– Dumbbell Squat. You can hold dumbbells at your side to perform this exercise. This is safer than putting a heavy barbell on your back and allows you to do squats safely at home with extra weight. You need to make sure to keep your chest up, though, and not let the extra weight affect your form.
– Split Squat. A split squat is another one of my favorite exercises BUT you only do one leg at a time which increases overall workout time and effort to work your legs. This exercise is sometimes called a Bulgarian squat.
– Squat Jumps. Squat jumps can be used as a great warm-up exercise before you get into your actual weight lifting workout. Be sure not to fatigue yourself too much doing this exercise, though. This exercise is also a great mobility exercise to ensure you're staying mobile as you age.
– Box Squat. You'll find box squats within the WLC Workouts Manual for the strength specific training programs. The box allows you to train your musculature in a different way. You are able to sit back on the box and then explode upwards from the box. This teaches you hip drive and more.
– Overhead Squats. This is another amazing exercise that's going to take some practice to get right. It's a full body exercise that takes coordination and increased flexibility. If you're looking for a challenging exercise, you've found one.
– Deep Squat. I always recommend going as deep as possible depending on the style of squat you are using. A deep squat is great for your body and this is how your body was meant to work. The women in fitness videos that teach quarter squats kill me. Anything less than a deep squat is not good for your body. Do a full squat with proper form or risk future injuries.
– Narrow Squats. You can also do narrow squats with proper form and technique but don't do them so narrow that it prevents you from using proper form and technique. Usually a narrow squat will work the outer quadriceps muscle more than the inner quadriceps.
– High Bar Squat. A high bar squat is another version of the squat that is used more in Olympic lifting and allows you to go very deep into the squat position. If you watch Olympic lifters squat, you'll see that their hamstrings touch their calves. This is a very deep squat with a more upright position.
– Wide Stance Squat. A wide stance squat sometimes called a sumo squat is the exercise type preferred by powerlifters. This type allows you to typically use heavier weights.
– Jefferson Squats. Jefferson squats can be done safely at home without a power rack, squat rack, or squat stands. You place the weight directly on the floor with this squat style. If you're working out at home without a rack, this might be one of the best choices for you.
– Hip Belt Squats. The hip belt is one of my favorite pieces of weight lifting equipment. You'll need a raised platform, though, to do hip belt squats properly. And it can be a little tricky to get this squat style right without the right platform height. Most people aren't going to have the space or time to build the correct platform for this exercise.
Squat Workout. Some type of squat is always included with any WLC Workout Program. The squat is one of the 7 core weight lifting exercises so it's always a part of every weight lifting program you'll find here at WLC.
– Squat Challenge. I've got a 30-day challenge for you to get you up and moving. This challenge will get you up and moving and will help you with the flexibility you need to start doing squats regularly. This is a body weight only challenge so you don't need any weights or equipment to get started.
– Squat Workout Routine. This is a more advanced version of the 30-day squat challenge given above. If you're ready to start increasing the amount of weight you are using, build lean muscle, and build strength then this is the workout routine you're looking to use.
This Concludes the Squat Guide
This concludes your complete guide to the squat exercise. If you have any questions that I could answer for you, just let me know. I am more than happy to answer any questions about the squat.