13 Variations of Squats for your lower body


The squat reigns supreme in the world of lower body training. It’s a functional exercise that strengthens and sculpts your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves, but let’s be honest; squats can get a little repetitive.

This is where variations come in! By incorporating different squat variations into your workout routine, you can not only keep things interesting but also target specific muscle groups, challenge your stability, and elevate your lower body workouts to the next level.

In this guide, we’ll delve into 13 variations of squats, each offering unique benefits and challenges. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned gym-goer, there’s a variation here to add some spice and fire to your leg workouts.

The squat reigns supreme in lower body training for a reason. It’s a compound exercise, meaning it works multiple muscle groups simultaneously. But squats can also get monotonous. This is where variations come in! By incorporating different squat variations

  • Target Specific Muscles: Some variations, like sumo squats, emphasise inner thighs, while others, like front squats, focus on quads.
  • Challenge Stability: Exercises like pistol squats and Bulgarian split squats require greater balance and core engagement.
  • Boost Engagement: Different variations keep your workouts interesting, preventing plateaus and pushing you to progress.

Building a Strong Foundation: The Basic Squat

Before diving in, let’s solidify the basic squat, the foundation for all variations. Here’s a breakdown:

  1. Stance: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly pointed outwards. This stance provides stability and distributes weight evenly.
  2. Core Engagement: Brace your core muscles by drawing your belly button towards your spine. This protects your lower back during the squat.
  3. Back Posture: Maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement. Avoid hunching or arching your back.
  4. Depth: Lower yourself down as if sitting in a chair, aiming for thighs parallel to the ground. This depth activates the glutes maximally.
  5. Drive Through Heels: To return to standing, press through your heels, not your toes. This ensures proper weight distribution and leg activation.

13 Squat Variations to Spice Up Your Workout

Now, let’s explore the variations! We’ll provide modifications for different fitness levels.

  1. Bodyweight Squat: The classic! A perfect starting point or warm-up exercise.
  2. Goblet Squat: Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell at chest level. Beginners can use a lighter weight or hold it closer to their body for better control.
  3. Sumo Squat: Stand with a wider stance than shoulder-width, toes pointed outwards. This variation targets your inner thighs (adductors).
  4. Bulgarian Split Squat: A single-leg challenge! Stand with one leg behind you, elevated on a bench or chair. Focus on lowering yourself down with control on the standing leg. Beginners can start with a lower bench height.
  5. Jump Squat: After reaching the squat position, explode upwards for a plyometric challenge. Beginners can focus on a controlled squat without the jump initially.
  6. Pistol Squat: The ultimate single-leg challenge. Perform a full squat on one leg, keeping the other extended straight out. Beginners can practice lowering themselves with assistance from a chair or wall until comfortable with full single-leg control.
  7. Wall Squat: Hold a squat position with your back pressed against a wall. This variation emphasises core engagement and helps maintain proper back posture.
  8. Plie Squat: Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned outwards. This variation targets your outer thighs (abductors).
  9. Goblet Squat with Overhead Press: Combine a goblet squat with an overhead press for a full-body challenge. Beginners can start with a lighter weight and focus on proper form for both movements.
  10. Front Squat: Hold dumbbells or a barbell resting on your front shoulders. This variation emphasises your quads. Beginners can start with lighter weights and practice proper positioning of the barbell on the shoulders.
  11. Zercher Squat: Hold a barbell in the crook of your elbows. This unique variation strengthens your core and upper back. Beginners can use a PVC pipe or unloaded barbell to practice the movement before adding weight.
  12. Hack Squat: Performed on a machine that isolates the quads. This variation can be a good option for those with knee issues or for targeted quad development.
  13. Weighted Squat: Add weight with dumbbells, barbells, or a weight vest for increased resistance. Beginners should start light and gradually increase weight as they get stronger.

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This concludes our exploration of 13 squat variations! With these variations in your arsenal, you can keep your lower body workouts fresh, challenging, and effective. Remember, proper form is essential to prevent injury. Start with lighter weights and perfect the basic squat movement before progressing.

As you gain strength and confidence, explore the variations that target specific muscle groups or challenge your balance. With dedication and these variations as your tools, you’ll be well on your way to a sculpted and powerful lower body!


  1. What are the benefits of doing different squat variations?

Different squat variations help in targeting various muscle groups in the lower body more effectively. This not only strengthens the muscles but also aids in improving balance, mobility, and overall fitness.

  1. How often should I incorporate these squat variations into my workout routine?

Incorporating these variations 2-3 times a week allows sufficient recovery while promoting muscle growth and strength. Adjust the frequency based on your overall fitness goals and workout intensity.

  1. Do I need any special equipment for these squat variations?

While basic squats don’t require equipment, variations like goblet squats or barbell back squats will need dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell. You can perform many variations with just your body weight or improvised home equipment.

  1. Can squats help with weight loss?

Yes, squats can contribute to weight loss as they are a high-intensity exercise that burns calories and builds muscle. Muscle tissue burns more calories at rest compared to fat, which can help increase your metabolic rate.

  1. Are there any safety tips I should follow when doing squats?

Always ensure your knees don’t go over your toes, keep your back straight, and avoid rounding your shoulders. Start with bodyweight squats to master the form before adding weights.

  1. What should I do if I feel pain during squats?

If you experience pain, stop immediately and assess your form. Consider consulting with a fitness professional to ensure you are performing the exercises correctly. If pain persists, seek medical advice.

  1. How can I progress with my squat exercises?

To progress, gradually increase the resistance, add more repetitions, or try more challenging variations. Ensuring consistent improvement in form and technique is also crucial for advancing in your squat exercises.

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