Squats are the Queen of exercises. Squatting down and standing back up is one the most natural movements you can do in the gym and is a full body movement when done with load. The most load is put on the lower body so it is a must do exercise for every serious booty builder. You can squat with a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, bodyweight or with a friend on your back but in this article we will focus on barbell versions as these are the most bang for the buck variations.
Related: Booty Building and Lunges
Benefits of the Squat
- Stronger legs and booty
- Stronger core
- Builds muscle all over your body, especially in the booty and legs
- Increases athletic performance in both jumping and running
- Squats burns a lot of calories because the whole body is involved
3 variations of the Squat
All squatting variations target the whole lower body a lot but these different variations prioritize the legs and booty to different degrees. A popular topic is squat depth, how deep should you go? We say as deep as you feel comfortable with while still being stable with the whole sole of your feet planted on the floor. But you should go to at least 90 degrees or you have to work on flexibility.
The normal squat is the most well rounded variation and the one we usually recommend to start getting stronger at. It trains the lower body about the same without prioritizing anything more. This is also the one most used to create athletic performance.
How to do it
- Grab a barbell that is in a squat rack with both hands just outside shoulder width and step under the bar and put it on your upper back in the upper parts on the trapz.
- Lift the bar off the rack using your legs and take a step or two back.
- Stand tall with your feet at shoulder width and toes pointing slightly outwards.
- Tense your abs and keep your chin slightly up to keep good posture. Do not look down during the lift, always keep your chin high. The back should be straight or have a slight arch during the whole lift.
- Start squatting down as low as you feel comfortable while keeping the abs tight during the whole lift.
- Stand back up again while keeping your knees from falling in towards each other, the knees should be pointing the same way as the toes.
- At the top squeeze your glutes.
- That was one rep. Now repeat for desired number of reps.
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As the name suggests these are done in a sumo position which means a wider stance. This puts more work on your booty and a little less on your legs. This is a perfect exercise to mix things up if your progress have started to stall on regular squats, or if you feel that your legs grow fast and your booty can’t catch up. When doing these for the first time use lighter weights than your normal squats to get the feeling and technique down before starting to move heavy weights.
How to do it
- Put the racked bar on your upper back on the trap area and take two steps back with the weight.
- Take a stance that is three to four feet wide. Try and find a position so that your shins are straight down from the knee to the floor when you are at a squat depth of 90 degrees. Your toes should be pointing outwards at an angle of about 45 degrees.
- Start the lowering with bending at the knees, lower to 90 degrees or slightly lower. Make sure your knees do not travel more forward than your toes. If they do, try to widen the stance a little.
- Start rising back up again while pressing through your heels and squeezing your booty all the way to the top.
- This is one rep. Repeat
Related: Booty Building and Hip Thrusts
The front squat is a bit different as you will squat with the barbell on your shoulders in front of you. This will put more emphasis on your quads and also on your upper body as you need to keep it straight during the lift so that the bar stays on the shoulders.
How to do it
- Grab a bar in a rack with both hands facing away from you just outside shoulder width, step under the bar and put it on your shoulders. Rotate your forearms up so they get to a position that is parallel to the floor.
- Step back from the rack and take a stance that is about shoulder width with toes pointing slightly outwards.
- Tense your abs and back and start squatting down.
- Go as low as you can before you start to move up to the starting position again. If you fall forward and have trouble keeping the weight on your shoulders before reaching a depth of 90 degrees you should lower the weight.
How to program the squats
Unless you do olympic lifts, do your squats first in the session as they need the use of the whole body and you want to be fresh while doing them. As squats is a compound exercise you should go quite heavy, do 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 10 reps. If you’re a beginner start by doing 4 sets of 6 reps with just the bar. Then trying to increase the weight 5 pounds every session will lead to great progress in technique and strength very fast. Do not squat more than 3 times a week, and always do it on non consecutive days.
Related: Booty Building and Deadlifts
Squatting problems and how to fix them
1. Issues going deep enough with a straight back
If you have trouble going deep or having trouble keeping the back straight during the lift it is a big possibility that it’s a flexibility problem. Do stretches for the quads, hamstrings and hip flexors to loosen up. A good stretching program would be De Francos agile 8. It is great both for warm up or to train flexibility long term. See our article on it here ________
It may also be that your abs, in particular the lower parts, are too weak to stabilize your core. The good news is that there is an easy fix. Do this modified leg raise variation. Lay on your back with your legs straight and pointing to the ceiling. Pull your lower back down against the floor and start lowering until your lower back leaves the floor. Just as it leaves the floor stop moving the legs and hold that position for 10 seconds before going back to the starting position. Do 4 sets of 4 ten second reps. Progress by going lower every rep you do and do not increase sets or reps until you can hover your feet just over the floor with your lower back against the floor.
2. Knees falling in
Having the knees falling in towards each other is a pretty normal squatting problem. Fix this by having a feeling that you try to keep your groin area apart, if you get this down, the knees will be stable without you having to think about it. If this does not work, a great drill is to tie a rope to a circle and use it around both shins just under the knee and try to keep it there during lifting.
3. Heels coming off the floor
If your heels start coming off the floor, put the bar down and practice technique as keeping stable with the heels is essential for stability and safe squats. Try solving it with finding a good centre of gravity on the feet. You should put your weight on the middle of the foot or slightly towards the heel. A tip is to also work on flexibility like written above on point 1. You can try weightlifting shoes that are a bit built up under the heel of the foot, but remember that even if you choose this route you should still work on the other parts as this is just masking the problem.
4. Lifting the weight off the rack
This is not a squatting problem exactly but it is extremely important as a lot of people with great squatting technique risk injury because they half ass the lift off. Put the pins on the rack so the bar is about 2 inches lower than the height of the position on your back. You don’t want to have to stand on your toes to get it off the rack. Be meticulous and put yourself exactly in the middle of the bar to find the right balance directly. The next part is to go under the bar and stand with both feet in proper squatting position with your core tight and lift the bar off the rack with your legs. Do not put just one foot under the bar and lift it off without proper form!
Now go to the gym and use this awesome exercise as a base of your training and get the results you always wanted!