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3 Squat Variations

Athletes in Motion
Athletes in Motion
October 6, 2016
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When it comes to lifting weights, consistency is key. Finding a program, sticking to it, and putting in the time and repetitions will always get you results.The back squat is a staple of any program. Powerlifters, olympic weightlifters, football players, professionals, moms, dads and everyone in between can benefit from doing a comprehensive back squat program.[caption id="attachment_8401" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]


Back squatting makes you huge. Just ask this guy. Source: Atlas Elite Fitness[/caption]But what happens when you've been doing back squats for a while and you're not seeing the strength or physique results you used to see? What if you're just a little burned out on doing the same movement, over and over?Working legs can be tough, especially if all you do is the same back squat forever. Here are three simple, easy variations to keep your workouts fresh and to keep you mentally engaged.

1. Front Squat

[caption id="attachment_8391" align="aligncenter" width="800"]


Source: Catalyst Athletics/Greg Everett[/caption]One of the most basic changes in squatting is to take the bar from the back of your trapezius muscles to the front, where the bar rests on your deltoids. You can use a rack or go from the ground, which will limit the total amount of weight you can use.You can hold the bar in one of two ways: either with your fingers underneath the bar and your elbows up, or with your arms crossed, holding the bar. Here's a picture of Arnie squatting with the alternative hand placement:[caption id="attachment_8392" align="aligncenter" width="600"]


Source: Complete Human Performance[/caption]Front squatting can be tough on your flexibility. The key is to keep your chest upright as much as possible during the descent, and to raise your elbows up in order to maintain a straight upper back. Too much forward lean could result in a dropped bar.The front squat is great for targeting the quads, as your feet will likely be a little closer together. To find out how much weight you should lift in the front squat, take a back squat workout you might normally do and use about 80% of that weight.Some people's front squats will be relatively higher or lower. A safe bet would be to start light and see how you handle it.


2. Box Squat

[caption id="attachment_8393" align="aligncenter" width="640"]


Source: Elite FTS[/caption]What's more fun than squatting big weights? Nothing. Well, maybe machine guns.Box squats allow you to use a little bit more weight than you normally would if you didn't have the box to support you. However, you need to keep in mind a few key points when you're doing box squats or else you won't get the most out of them.


Make sure you're squatting on a stable surface. It should be able to hold your weight, plus however many hundreds of pounds that you put on the bar. In addition, it should be wide enough to accomodate your butt and part of your hamstrings. Don't use a skinny little bench. Don't "drop" down onto the box. Make sure you stay as tight as possible as you descend. This helps build static strength and ensures that you don't hurt yourself. Generally, you're not going to descend as far with a box squat as a normal squat. You can either "touch and go," or let the weight rest onto the box and go from a dead stop. Either of these will help build strength.Box squats are great for developing the glutes and hamstrings in particular, due to their long duration and the wide stance that most squatters take. Want a big butt? Box squat. Want to be able to carry a ton of weight on your back with no problem? Box squat.Check out this awesome section on box squats from the guys at Elite FTS.[caption id="attachment_8394" align="aligncenter" width="884"]


Box squats make carrying a heavy rucksack easier, without hurting your lower back. Source: DoD[/caption]

3. Odd Object/Sandbag/Med Ball/Zercher

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Source: Elite FTS[/caption]These all kind of fall into the same category. You find something, you pick it up, you squat it. It can be a kettlebell, a sandbag, a tree stump, a keg, whatever. Point is, it's difficult. It forces you out of your comfort zone. You might get dirty; hell, you might even have to leave the gym!All squats are the same in principle: tight back, chest up, knees out and tracking over the toes, descend and squeeze your butt on the way up. The only difference is you might be holding the object on one shoulder instead of the other, or in front and down from you (Zercher-style), or even on your back, but in a way that is uncomfortable:[caption id="attachment_8397" align="aligncenter" width="572"]


Look at this dude with his ridiculous beard. Cool tree though. Squat it![/caption][caption id="attachment_8399" align="aligncenter" width="752"]


Source: Greatist[/caption][caption id="attachment_8400" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]


Look how f*cking calm Rob Orlando is before he squats this big ass rock. Be like Rob. Source: Muscle and Fitness[/caption]Let your imagination run wild. Odd object squats might not be the bread-and-butter of your routine, but if done right, they can add a lot of functional muscle to your frame. Plus, what's cooler than picking up a tree, putting it on your back, and squatting with it?Not much. Except, of course, machine guns.Save this to Pinterest:

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