The great thing about squats is that they are undoubtedly one of the best exercises that involve multiple muscle groups at one time and have a high rate of fat burn. Usually when we talk about squats, we always imagine the same execution of having a bar on your back and squatting up and down. The truth is there are countless squat variations so you never get bored and they really can compete as one of the most effective lifts to have in your arsenal.
Following are the 5 squat variations you can add in your workout:
1. Overhead Squat
This type of squat helps you develop the core muscles of the body, i.e. the abdominal, oblique internal and external straight, transverse muscles, the lower back (lumbar and spinal erect box). This is usually performed with a bar with or without weights or dumbbells (depending on your ability and strength).
2. Zercher Squat
This is one of the “rare” squat techniques which is not often seen in gyms. The Zercher squat involves placing the bar with weights resting on the forearms (with the inside of the elbow). It looks painful, but logically you should pick a weight that allows you to hold the weight in this area comfortably. For beginners you should always perform the Zercher squat, using the squat rack for safety.
3. Single Leg Squat
This type of squat is done frequently at Crossfit gyms. As the name suggests, it is running the movement of the squat on one leg (with the heel on the floor) while keeping the other in the air and one foot extended forward. It is also named the pistol squat and it requires a lot of balance and at first it should be done without weights. Once the balance is controlled, a dumbbell can be added to the technique.
4. Jump squat
This squat technique is used to develop explosive strength in the quadriceps and for abdominal exercise. It is generally performed without the use of weights or with a sandbag around the shoulders. Simply put both hands on the back of your head so that head comes in line with the body, then dip both knees and jump as high as possible land back in the squat position and repeat. Your chest must remain upright throughout the entire jump and squat.
5. Bulgarian Squat
The Bulgarian squat is another common squat variation. For this squat, a support like a block or weight bench is needed to place one foot on it to execute it while other one is on the ground like single leg squat. The foot goes directly behind while you squat up and down on your plant leg. Balance and control over the body is required, once it is achieved without weight, you can add dumbbells in each hand or a squat bar on your shoulders to increase its difficulty.
Tips and common errors when performing squats:
• Curving the back is a common mistake that can lead to injury of this area of the body. If you bow down your torso and head, it is likely that the weight of the bar will fall on the dorsal or cervical area, possibly resulting in injury.
• Knees hyperflexion – Squatting to low or using a weight that is too heavy for your body to manage can cause knee hyerperflexion. This can damage the joint, so it’s important to take care and ensure the knee does not pass the vertical line of the toe. To avoid this problem, focus on flexing hips and knees to lower the torso, without mobilizing the trunk.
• Joining knees in the middle or flex outward is also a common mistake, therefore, the knees should bend in a straight line, and not bend towards the center or separate too much as you descend into the squat position.