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Revisiting the Squat

By Fred Dyck, B.S.P.E., Fitness Manager, YWCA Fitness on 25th

Members who have spent any amount of time talking health and fitness with me will know I am a big proponent of the squat. It’s a foundation movement I believe all of our members would benefit from practicing. Even if your current mobility restricts you to a short, modified movement. Almost no day goes by that I do not complete some air squats. I love the air squat. You can do it anywhere, anytime. It’s a great exercise. Here are some variations on the squat you can consider. All of these are excellent choices to augment your workout:

  1. The Basic Air Squat. a body weight squat. Key points to think about include feet shoulder width apart or a bit more. Toes flared out slightly. Knees track over feet (not to the inside). Your weight should go into your heels. Here is a key point often overlooked…Try to delay your knee’s travelling forward as much as you can.
  2. The Back Squat: this move, with a barbell on your backside is probably what most people think about when we talk about squats. It’s an important move that works your posterior chain (muscles, tendons, etc on your backside); especially your glutes and hamstrings. A long standing question people ask in the gym is should I allow my butt to travel below the level of my knees? How much weight you are squatting will determine some of this but for me I do not squat weight so heavy that I do not feel safe travelling this low. Regardless of whether I am completing an air squat or any other variation with weight, I want my hip crease lower than the top of my knee.
  3. The Front Squat: the front squat occurs with the barbell resting on your shoulders in front of your neck. One key point for this movement is elbows should be pointing forward. As with all squat movements, make sure your weight travels back into your heels.
  4. The Goblet Squat: Take a kettlebell or dumbbell and hold close to your chest. Perform the squat. As with all squat movements, head should be up and looking forward. Challenge yourself to get your elbows inside of your knees (see picture).

Other Squat variations:

  • The Anderson Squat: for this squat you begin from the bottom position.
  • Bulgarian Squat (or split squat): With on leg back and resting on a bench.
  • Pistols: A single-leg squat.
  • Hack Squat: With this move, you hold the bar behind your legs.

This article does not list all key points for a basic squat. If you would like to learn more about this very important and foundational movement, talk to one of our personal trainers.