Workout of the Week: Squat Variations

June 23, 2014 7:04 pm Last Updated: June 23, 2014 8:34 pm

Squats are one of the best exercises for your lower body. Here are five different types of squats that will work your body in slightly different ways.

You can perform anywhere between 15 and 30 repetitions of each squat for a set.

You could do all of the squats consecutively for a major lower body workout or choose one of the squats and team it with four or five exercises that work other body parts for a whole body workout.

Basic Squat


(Model: Alana Ford, Photo: Willis Lim, Bris Australia)

This squat is great for learning how to squat properly. It will work the front and back of the thighs, hips, and buttock area.

Keep your feet and knees parallel during the entire squat. The lower you take your hips the harder you work. When you squat, your knees should stay slightly behind your toes.

1. Start with your feet hip-width apart.
2. Lower your hips and buttocks toward the floor, like you’re taking a seat on an imaginary chair. Reach both arms out in front of you at shoulder height.
3. Press through your feet to return to your starting position.

Sumo Squat


(Model: Alana Ford, Photo: Willis Lim, Bris Australia)

This squat is great if you suffer from weak knees because having your legs externally rotated will help to take the pressure off your knee joint. The sumo squat targets the inside of your thighs and outside of your buttocks.

1. Start with your feet wider than your shoulders, hands on your hips.
2. Lower your buttocks straight down to the floor. Your knees should be wide open in a sumo stance.
3. Go as low as you can for the best results.

Split Squat


(Model: Alana Ford, Photo: Willis Lim, Bris Australia)

Split squats are a supercharged way to tone your entire lower body. This squat is also known as a lunge position.

1. Place one foot out in front of your body and the opposite one behind.
2. Lower your body down toward the floor. Both legs should be in a 90-degree angle when you lower down to the floor. Don’t let your back knee touch the floor.
3. Focus on deeply squeezing the glute of the rear leg.
4. Do a complete set with one foot forward, then repeat with the opposite foot forward.

Curtsey Squat


(Model: Alana Ford, Photo: Willis Lim, Bris Australia)

This squat is a good for mixing up your routine because it forces your body to do different movements, which keeps it progressing. It specifically targets the smaller muscles on the inside of the knee of the quad (front of the thigh).

1. Start with your right foot in front of your left foot. Have your right foot turned toward the right and your left foot turned toward the left.
2. Bend your knees and lower your body toward the floor. Both knees will follow the feet, heading in opposite directions.
3. Allow the left heel to lift. This will give you more depth in the squat at the same time as challenging your balance.
4. Do a complete set with one foot forward, then repeat with the opposite foot forward.

Pick-up Squat


(Model: Alana Ford, Photo: Willis Lim, Bris Australia)

This squat is great as it is a functional movement. This means it imitates a movement we perform on a daily basis. Functional exercises are fantastic as they strengthen the parts of the body we need and use the most.

1. Step forward with your right leg, similar to the split squat position.
2. As you step forward reach down to the floor just in front of the right foot as though you are going to pick something up from the floor.
3. Push off of the front leg to return to an upright standing position.
4. Repeat the same movement with the left leg stepping out in front.
5. You can alternate the legs or do a set on one side then switch to the other side.

Avoid bending forward from your back, instead drop in the pick-up position by bending your knees. You will feel this one deeply in your buttocks.

Emma-Kate Stampton certifies Pilates instructors and is a certified personal trainer. With 10 years of industry experience, she is passionate about sharing the gift of health and well-being. Emma-Kate is based in Brisbane, Australia.