8 Different Types of Squats

8 Different Types of Squats


The squat is a crucial exercise for your legs, glutes and core. Here are some form/technique tips to consider before getting started.

  • Keeping your back straight. Don't round your back when performing any squat, as it can cause pain and injury in your lower back.
  • Keep your knees over your toes. This can be bad for your knees and joints.
  • Keep your feet planted. Keep your heels planted firmly on the ground and your knees lined up with your feet.
  • Look straight ahead. Try not to look down. 
  • Start with lighter weights. Don't forget to warm up your muscles. 

1. Barbell Front Squats

The barbell front squat places a barbell in front of the chest and sometimes involves a crossover grip to keep the bar in place.

How to:

    1. Stand under a barbell in a squat rack at shoulder height. With your elbows high, position your arms under the bar, so it rests on the front of your shoulders. Brace your core.
    2. Lift the bar by bending your knees and pushing up to unrack. Take a step back into your regular squat position.
    3. Hinge forward at your hips and push them back as if you will sit down. Continue until your thighs are at least parallel with the floor.
    4. Push through your feet to return to the starting position and repeat for desired reps. (Very Well Fit, 2022)

2. Barbell Back Squat

The barbell back squat is the standard big-bar squat. You'll place a barbell and weights on the trapezius muscles at the back of your neck. Barbell squats target your quads, glutes, calves, and core.

How to:

    1. Position the barbell on the squat rack at upper chest height.
    2. Get under the bar, so the backs of your shoulders rest on it, knees slightly bent.
    3. Hold the bar overhand, more expansive than shoulder-width.
    4. Push up to straighten your legs and unrack the barbell. Take one step back with both feet, more comprehensive than shoulder-width, in your normal squat stance.
    5. Hinge your hips and bend your knees, pushing outward to track your knees in the direction of your feet. Stay as upright as you can, chest high.
    6. Continue lowering until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
    7. Push up through your feet and straighten your legs until you stand. Do not shoot your hips up first, but push your whole body up as one, pushing firmly through your feet. (Very Well Fit, 2022)

3. Dumbbell Squat

The dumbbells can be held in various positions; on the shoulders, sides, or chest. The below version is completed with two dumbbells at your sides. This movement works your quads, glutes, and calves.

How to

    1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, dumbbells by your sides, palms facing each other.
    2. Maintain a straight back, hinge your hips, and squat down until your thighs are parallel or lower to the floor.
    3. Push through your feet to rise back to standing. (Very Well Fit, 2022)

4. Split Squats

Split squats can be a great way to switch up the standard horizontal stance. It's an excellent unilateral exercise and is a great alternative for anyone who finds they have knee pain with back squats.

You can do these with a standard barbell back squat or with any combination of dumbbells, kettlebells, or other weights. You can also elevate the rear leg for an additional challenge.

How to

    1. Stand in front of a bench holding two dumbbells and carefully place your right foot on top of the bench.
    2. Bend your left knee and drop your right knee. Your weight should be on your front left foot.
    3. Lower until your front thigh is parallel to the floor.
    4. Push through your front foot to raise, but do not lock out your knee.
    5. Repeat for desired reps, then switch sides. (Very Well Fit, 2022)

Also known as the Sumo stance because of the wide foot placement, wide-stance squats activate the muscles inside the thigh, such as the gracilis and adductor Magnus.

How to:

    1. Set a barbell racked at shoulder height.
    2. Step under the bar and rest it against your shoulders. Grasp the bar overhand.
    3. Push up with your legs to unrack the barbell and take a step back.
    4. Position your legs wider than shoulder-width with your toes pointed slightly out.
    5. Brace your core by inhaling and engaging your core as if you expect to be punched.
    6. Hinge your hips and bend your knees, pushing them out in line with your feet.
    7. Lower until your thighs are at least parallel with the floor
    8. Breath out and push through your feet to return to standing. (Very Well Fit, 2022)

6. Hack Squats

Hack squats are rear-loaded on a squat hack machine or with a barbell behind the legs. Hack squats target your quads more than traditional squats.

How to:

    1. Place a loaded barbell behind you and stand on weight plates or wedges to raise your heels.
    2. Slowly squat down and grasp the barbell behind your back.
    3. Push through your feet and quads to stand up while lifting the barbell behind you.
    4. Reverse the motion, driving your hips back as you go. (Very Well Fit, 2022)

7. Single-Leg Squat (Pistol)

An advanced exercise that requires strength and balance, though you can also use various props to assist you with credit, such as a suspension trainer, chair, or rack.

How to:

    1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
    2. Raise one foot off the ground and extend your leg in front of you.
    3. Raise your arms in front of you for counterbalance.
    4. Slowly lower squat by hinging your hips back and bending your front knee.
    5. Continue lowering until your standing thigh is parallel to the floor.
    6. Rise to stand by pushing through your standing foot and straightening your leg. (Very Well Fit, 2022)

8. Smith Machine Squat

The smith machine (a framed rack for weights) is a classic piece of equipment found in most gyms. The barbell is positioned between two rails, so the bar moves up and down on a single track. No horizontal movement is allowed.

Many people use the smith machine to do back or front squats, but the safety and effectiveness of using it for squats are often debated. (Very Well Fit, 2022)


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