3 Unique Squat Variations to Add to Your Training
- DAN NORTH
The squat is one of, if not the most, primal movement we can perform. Since that is the case, it’s important to implement it regularly into our training.
In addition to performing basic squats, it’s important to add variety to this fundamental movement in order to get stronger and add muscle. Some ways you can mix up your squat training include:
- Doing more front squats.
- Adding a pause at the bottom of your squat.
- Adding bands or chains for increased tension.
- Implementing plyometric squat variations.
- Slowing down your eccentric (lowering) tempo.
Here are three unique squat variations that will stimulate your nervous system and allow for stronger, leaner legs.
1) EXPLOSIVE BACK SQUAT
This is not only a great conditioning tool for athletes, it is a highly effective warm up to stimulate the central nervous system prior to heavy lifting. If you are going for a max effort lift or multiple sets of sub maximal weight, performing plyometric movements like explosive squats reinforce speed and power. If you are thinking ‘fast’ during your warm up sets, your body and CNS are prepared for heavier loads and will move faster as a result.
2) BARBELL SUMO WALK
There is no break at all during sumo walks. In order to perform this demanding exercise correctly, imagine a low ceiling above your head, keeping your quads engaged throughout and eliminating standing upright. Whichever knee goes down first, that same foot pushes off first. Perform a full set on one side then switch legs. This constant tension in the quads increases work capacity and trains your legs to be stronger for longer. In return, you will be able to perform more sets and increase your volume which translates to muscle hypertrophy and strength development.
3) PULSING BACK SQUAT
Pulsing back squats can be seen as a combination of explosive squats and sumo walks in that they increase work capacity and power from the bottom position of the squat. You can perform this as a front squat or add a jump during the lockout to increase difficulty. This variation also trains you to control the ‘bounce’ from the bottom to allow you to spring back up to full extension during heavier loads. This translate directly to weightlifting movements such as cleans and snatches where power and explosiveness from the bottom is needed when ‘coming out of the hole’.
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