16 squat variations to try today
Earlier this week we gave you 12 ways to pimp your push-ups; hope you've been busy practising as today we're focusing on squats! I'm sure you'll all agree that squats are pretty great for strengthening your glutes, hamstrings and squads, not to mention toning your bum and thighs for a fit bikini body. They can also help to prevent knee injuries and are the perfect exercise to try if you're new to running. Because doing the same old exercises day-in, day-out can make your workout routine boring, we've come up with 16 variations for you to try.
#1. Single-leg squat
By focusing your squats on just one leg, you can help to strengthen your less dominant leg. Start your squat as you would normally, then lift your left leg, bending your knee until your foot leaves the ground. Holding the raised foot behind or in front of you, lower yourself down into the squat – only go as far as is comfortable for you. Return to your starting position. Make sure you keep your left leg up between reps, using a chair or wall for support if you need to, and don't forget to swap legs!
#2. Pistol squat
This squat may be a bit tricky to mater, but it's a pretty impressive way to show off at the gym. Get into your usual squat position then extend your left leg straight in front of you, with your arms extended parallel to your leg. Now slowly perform your squat. You're aiming to go all the way down until your bum almost touches your heel. You lifted leg should be just a few inches above the floor. Now for the hard part – stand back up without losing your balance.
#3. Pulse squat
After mastering the pistol squat, this one's a breeze. When performing your basic squat, stay in the lowest part and keep your thighs parallel to the ground. Now bounce up and down a few times, ensuring you keep the movements small and fast, just a few inches up or down.
#4. Chair squat
If you have a chair handy, make the most of it! Stand up with your feet and legs together and sit down and back, pushing your hips out behind you. Raise your arms as high as you can. Return to the standing position and repeat. To increase the challenge of this squat, hold it for a few seconds.
#5. Chair squat variation
Using your chair again – or a different one, if you feel the need – stand with your legs and feet together. Hold your arms out in front, keeping them parallel to the ground. Rise up on your toes and lower yourself back down until your bum almost touches your heels, but not quite! Remain on your toes and return to a standing position.
#6. Sumo squat
We love this squat which is inspired by the sumo stance, although we don't recommend the 12,000 calorie diet which goes with being a sumo wrestler! Stand with your legs wide apart and toes pointing slightly out. Pushing your hips back, bend at the knees and squat until your thighs line up with your knees, then return to a standing position.
#7. Plie squat
Whether you fancy yourself as the next member of the Royal Ballet or have all the grace of a wrestler, you can perform the plie squat to work your leg muscles to the max – tutus optional! Stand with your heels otgether, legs straight and toes pointing just slightly outwards. Keep your bum tucked in as you bend your knees, then lower yourself down as far as you can. At the bottom of your squat, let your heels come up, then return to standing.
#8. Eagle squat
Another challenge that's definitely not for the faint-hearted. Stand with your feet close together and arms out in a 'T' shape. Lifting your right leg over your left, wrap your right foot around the back of your left calf. Now, bring your right elbow under your left elbow and wrap your right hand around your left forearm, placing your palms together. Regain your balance and squat as low as you can before returning to your starting position. Just try not to tie yourself in knots.
#9. Curtsy squat
One that might come in handy for your next brush with royalty is the curtsy squat; it's very British, darling. Standing with your feet hip width apart, place your hands on your hips and move your right foot behind your left leg, as far past your left foot as you can. In a curtsy movement, slowly sqyat, ensuring you keep your weight on your front leg, then return to your starting position.
#10. Squat jump
This plyometric (jump) squat will have you lifting off, adding a healthy dose of cardio to your workout. You'll definitely need a post-workout snack after a few reps of these! Start your squat as usual, lowering yourself about half way down. Then jump in the air before landing in a standing position, and repeat.
#11. Frog squat
Ever played the game 'Frogger'? Now you can learn to jump like your favourite amphibian with this variation on the squat jump. Start with your bum low to the ground, legs wide and knees and toes pointing just slightly outwards. Placing your hands on the ground in front of you, hop up and land back in the squat position. 'Ribbit' sound effects optional.
#12. Jacks squat
Jumping jacks combined with squats equals awesome! Starting in your usual squat position, jump as if you were doing a regular jumping jack but remain low in the squat. Then jump your feet back together. Boost your energy levels with a snack before you repeat a few reps.
#13. Box-jump squat
You'll need a large box or step – something solid like wood or plastic. Lower yourself into a basic squat and jump from both feet into a squat position, landing on the box. It's best to start with a low box and make sure you don't bash your shins, gradually working up to a higher box.
#14. Half burpee squat
Bored of burpees? Combine them with a basic squat for an exercise that will get your endorphins flowing. Begin in a crouching position, with your knees between your arms and tucked under your chest. Now jump out into a plank position. Jump back in, landing on your feet in a low squat and repeat.
#15. Ninja jump squats
Admit it, you've always wanted to be a ninja! Costume is strictly optional here, but you'll need to channel your inner ninja to master these tricky squats. Kneel on the floor, arms bent at your sides and keep your feet flat. Engage your quads, hips and glutes and spring up to your feet (both feet at the same time). Now land in a low squat position. It's best to try this at home rather than at the gym to avoid embarassment.
#16. Wall squat
This is an easy way to tone your bum and legs, but you can make it more challenging as your fitness levels increase. Find a wall and stand with your back against it and feet hip width apart. Lower yourself down until the top of your thighs are parallel with the ground, keeping your back flat against the wall. Hold for a few seconds, then a few seconds more. Feel the burn!