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9 Types of Squats for a Boosted Booty and Leaner Legs

9 Types of Squats for a Boosted Booty and Leaner Legs

One go-to exercise for a firmer butt and stronger legs is the squat. We lay out 9 different types of squats - with alternating movements - that will address different fitness levels and goals.
Bodyweight squat

9 Types of Squats for a Boosted Booty and Leaner Legs

Doing squats as an exercise or weighted exercise has many benefits. Squats burn calories and might help you lose weight, and they also lower your chances of injuring your knees and ankles. Performing squat exercises also strengthens your tendons, bones, and ligaments around the leg muscles. Other muscles in your body benefit from doing squats, including:

  • Hip muscles
  • Calves
  • Hamstrings
  • Obliques

History Of The Squat As An Exercise

The motion of the squat is the same as it was when you were a child; you sit down, and then you stand back up. Some of us stop squatting as we age, which can be quite limiting to our freedom of movement and quality of life. So, when did the squat gain popularity as a mainstream exercise? Squats, as a weighted exercise, predate bodybuilding and Olympic weightlifting. The squat goes back to the days when weight training was predominantly done by professional strongmen.

In the early days of powerlifting, physiques were built by putting heavy dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells overhead using a wide range of presses. The most famous Victorian strongman wrote about weighted squats in his 1894 book “Sandow’s System of Physical Culture.” Sandow made one of the earliest recommendations in print to use squatting movements for quadriceps development. He described the move as, “By bending the knees, dip the body in a vertical line to the heels, keeping the back straight and the chin drawn in. Recover and repeat the movement until the muscles ache.” To this day, the squat movement has remained largely the same and has stood the test of time with its proven result to strengthen muscles, tendons, bones, and ligaments.

Types Of Squats And The Benefits

There are many types of squats and squat variations, all of which have benefits. The range of options for doing squats will allow you to find what works best for you, your body, and your fitness goals. Whichever form and variation you choose, you will undoubtedly find benefits to your strength and mobility, along with a decreased risk for injury.

Beginner Squats

If you’re new to doing squats as an exercise, you’ll want to start with the basics. The basic bodyweight squat should be mastered before attempting weighted squats because it will help you develop the proper form necessary to avoid injury when eventually doing weighted squats.

Bodyweight Squat

Bodyweight squat with great form

Bodyweight squats are an excellent starting point if you are unfamiliar with the movement as an intentional exercise. They also offer a beginning point if you have found yourself avoiding the movement due to lack of strength, previous injury, or instability. Bodyweight squats are a great way to increase strength in your lower body. They primarily strengthen your quads, hip flexors, and glutes but also engage your hamstrings, calves, abs, and lower back to complete the movement safely and properly.

How to do a bodyweight squat:

  • Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, your toes slightly out, and your arms at your side.
  • Start to hinge at the hips and bend your knees, sitting back like you’re going to sit down and allowing your arms to raise up in front of you.
  • When your thighs are parallel to the ground, stop and push up through your heels to return to your starting position.
  • Repeat until your muscles feel fatigued but without compromising proper form

Variation: Wall Squat

Wall squat for a squat alternative; easier workout; gain strength

If you find that doing a bodyweight squat is causing pain or instability, a wall squat is an excellent variation for learning the movement and proper form, along with gaining strength and confidence to do a squat.

How to do a wall squat:

  • Stand with your back against a wall and step your feet out about 12 inches from the wall.
  • Bend your knees, dropping into a squat while keeping your back pinned to the wall throughout the movement.
  • Stop when your thighs are parallel to the ground. Push through your heels back to start.
  • Repeat until your muscles feel fatigued but without compromising proper form.

Intermediate Squats

Once you’re familiar with performing a basic squat and are confident that your form is correct, it’s time to upgrade to squatting movements that will help you build muscle and strength. Some of these intermediate squat exercises use added weight, while others are bodyweight variations that will help you increase strength, stability, and flexibility.

Dumbbell Squat

Dumbbell squat woman outdoors

Dumbbell squats strengthen your lower body and core. The additional weight from a pair of dumbbells increases the activation of muscles like the hamstrings and glutes, and dumbbell squats also activate the stabilizing muscles around your knees and ankles.

How to do a dumbbell squat:

  • Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and hold a set of dumbbells at the sides.
  • Keeping your back straight and your knees behind your toes, sink your hips back and lower into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • Extend your hips and knees to drive out of the squat position.
  • Repeat until your muscles feel fatigued but without compromising proper form.

Split Squat

Split squat

The split squat is a compound leg exercise that works multiple muscles in your lower body, including hip flexors, hamstrings, quads, and glutes. Split squats can increase leg strength and enhance flexibility.

How to do a split squat:

  • Start in a split leg position, with one leg forward and one back.
  • Flex your knees and lower your hips until the back knee is just above the floor.
  • Stand back up and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat this movement until your muscles feel fatigued but without compromising proper form.
  • Switch legs and perform the movement on the other side.

Variation of the split squat: perform the above steps with added dumbbell weight or barbell with weights.

Sumo Squat

Sumo squat

The sumo squat increases the activation of inner thigh muscles more than many other lower body exercises, including the traditional squat. Because sumo squats are effective at working the inner thighs and leg muscles using just your body weight, you can perform this exercise anywhere.

How to do a sumo squat:

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  • Turn your feet out, externally rotating your hips.
  • Push your hips back and squat down, keeping your back straight and your upper body lifted.
  • Ensure that you push through your heels and engage your inner thighs as you return to starting position.
  • Repeat this movement until your muscles feel fatigued but without compromising proper form.

Variation of the sumo squat: perform the above steps with added dumbbell weight or barbell with weights.

Advanced Squats

Research shows that barbell squats are undeniably better than bodyweight squats and dumbbell squats in building lower body strength and power. The option for heavier weights in barbell squats significantly improves overall leg strength, including the knees and lower back. The barbell also allows a gradual increase in weights for increasing strength.

Barbell Back Squat

Squat with barbell

A barbell squat, also known as a barbell back squat, is a compound exercise that activates muscles throughout the lower body, including the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back muscles. The barbell back squat is the most popular of all the weighted squat movements.

How to do a barbell back squat:

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  • Position the bar so that it rests on the muscles on the top of your back, not on the back of your neck.
  • Grip the bar with your hands using a wide grip for stability.
  • Push your hips back and squat down, keeping your back straight and your upper body lifted.
  • Ensure that you push through your heels and engage your inner thighs as you return to starting position.
  • Repeat this movement until your muscles feel fatigued but without compromising proper form.

Barbell Front Squat

Barbell front squat The barbell front squat helps improve your core strength and posture and will also help prevent injuries by working your quads along with improving mobility, speed, and endurance. When beginning the squat with added weight, start at a weight that is safe and comfortable for you. You may even begin with a preloaded or fixed barbell which allows you to start with weight as low as 10 pounds, whereas a standard barbell is 45 pounds before additional weight is loaded.

How to do a barbell front squat:

  • Stand tall in a shoulder-width stance with feet pointed out.
  • Rest a barbell on top of the chest.
  • Use an overhand grip to securely hold the bar with your fingers. The triceps remain parallel to the floor to support the weight of the bar.
  • Inhale and slowly descend hips until thighs become parallel to the floor, keeping weight stationary.
  • Pause at the bottom and then quickly drive your hips back to starting position.
  • Repeat this movement until your muscles feel fatigued but without compromising proper form.

Important Take-Away: Do Bodyweight Squats Every day!

Even if you have no intention of doing weighted squats due to injury, lack of interest, or fear of bearing additional weight, make the simple, bodyweight squat part of your daily exercise routine. Just this one change, even without weight, will increase your strength, stability, and mobility. If you want to check out some other lower-body exercises, check out this video on the Prime Women YouTube Channel.

Read Next:

Weightlifting For Age-Related Muscle Loss

How To Begin Weightlifting At 50 And Beyond

4 Weighted Ab Workouts We Love

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