Encyclopedia Of Squats: Every Squat Variation You Could Imagine (27 To Be Exact)

Good morning! Happy Thursday. I know that I’ve said before but I love Thursdays.

We’ve almost made it through the workout week, yet there is still enough time to cross some major things off our to-do lists.

I also love Thursdays because it’s a weight lifting day!

Well more specifically, a kettlebell training day.

I love the fact that Dan and I pay for a gym membership, yet we bring our own weights with us.

The looks we get are pretty priceless.

Whatever, we’re sticking with it.

When it comes to our training, there is one move that is very rarely (like maybe 1 out of 20) left out my workouts:

Squats. 

That might sound boring? But I assure you,  I’m about to blow your mind.

Do you feel like aside from the basic sit your butt down, you don’t know squat about squats? Haha, get it?

Well, just like with burpees, and planksThe possibilities with squats are limitless.

And here’s what I mean…

27 squat variations

27 Ways To Do A Squat

A Variation For Almost Every Day Of The Month!

1. Squat

squat

Just a good old normal squat to get us started.

  • Make sure to keep your feet planted on the ground.
  • Push the hips back and lower down as if going to sit down.
  • Keep the head and shoulders up, with a straight or slightly arched back.
  • Focus on keeping the knees pointed forward or pushing slightly out.

2. Prisoner Squats

prisoner squat

Lately, these have been showing up a lot in our workouts.

  • We used to do them very sporadically but lately with our heavy workout loads, they’ve been popping up pretty regularly and are a killer.
  • Lower down one leg at a time. Whatever leg came down first, is the leg you want to stand up with.
  • If you’re doing it with a weight, see goblet squat on how to hold it.

3. Squat Wall Hold

wall squat
  • Just like it sounds, find a nice sturdy wall and hold a squat.
  • The trick to this is to maneuver your feet far enough away from the wall so that while you’re in the squat position, your thighs are parallel to the ground and knees are directly over ankles.
  • Make sure to stay upright, with your back flat against the wall.

4. Goblet Squat

goblet squat

Grab a “goblet” and get to squatting.

  • Your feet will be slightly turned out.
  • Make sure to keep the feet completely on the ground.
  • Lower down while pushing the knees slightly out, keeping the back straight and head up.
  • Lower down as far as you personally can.

5. Uneven Squat

unevent squat

I posted this move down last week when I brought up pistol squats. It’s a great move to really work one leg at a time and also making steps towards practicing balance.

  • Keep one foot up higher than the other by using a step, box top (like this one), or a dumbbell (as seen here).
  • Keep most of your weight on the grounded floor.
  • Continue on with the squat, keeping in mind the rules above.

6. Split Squat

split squat

One of my favorites!

  • A one-legged squat, with the foot placed behind you on a bench. Also known as a Bulgarian Squat.
  • It takes practice and making sure that the foot is placed in a position what when lowering down it remains right under the knee.
  • Use a wall for balance if needed.

7. Squat Jumps

squat jumps

This is a great plyometric move and will have the legs burning quickly.

  • Squat down, and jump up as high as possible.
  • Land back in a squat and repeat, without breaking reps if possible.

8. Barbell Back Squat

back squat

If you’ve been working out regularly and are in a place of adding barbells to your workout then the back squat might be perfect.

  • However, if you have back or knee problems it might be wise to skip this exercise (the front squat might be better).
  • Use a squat rack to position a barbell along the upper part of your back. NOT ON YOUR NECK.
  • Keep the head up, weight distributed through feet (so they stay planted down) and lower down by pushing the hips back.
  • Once at your lower position, push up back to normal.

9. Barbell Front Squat

front squat

Another barbell variation.

  • The bar is placed along the collarbone region of the body. Resting on hands There are several different grip positions, I like this one.
  • As you lower down you’ll feel your back want to arch a bit more than the back squat. A slight arch is okay, just don’t let it roll or allow your chest to fall forward.

10. Monkey Squat

monkey squat

This is a fun squat and one that will leave your butt burning like crazy.

  • Reach down, grab either the ankles or toes.
  • Keeping your upper body completely still, bend at the knees and lower your butt towards your ankles.
  • Return to starting position and repeat.

11. Sumo Squats (Plie Squats)

plie squat
  • Sumo squats have a wide stance with the toes turned out.

They work the inner thighs more than a standard squat.

12. Sumo Squat Jump

plie squat jump

Like the traditional squat jump, but from the sumo squat position.

  • The jumps will more likely be more “hop-like” and will not have the height of the squat jumps.

13. Frog Squat Jumps

frog squats

These are from a low squat position, and the squat is never broken.

  • They are hops just as you would envision Kermit to jump around.
  • It’s easy to let your head and shoulders fall down. Don’t let them.
  • Keep the back straight and head up.

14. 1/2 Squats

half squat

Great to add to the end of a squat workout or the perfect move for a complete beginner to begin tackling form.

  • It’s a squat that simply doesn’t go all the way down.
  • 1/2 Squats are often used for pulsing or really fatiguing the muscles.

15. Pistol Squats

pistol squat

Perhaps the Holy Grail of squats. These mean business.

I just recently wrote a progression for them, if you’re interested check it out here.

16. Squat Jacks

squat jack

Jumping jacks are great, but squat jacks are my favorite.

  • Start with feet together, then jump apart and lower into a squat.
  • From here, jump back up to return to starting position.
  • Repeat without breaking reps.

17. Tornado “Twister” Squats

twister squats

A crazy version of a squat jump.

  • From the squat, jump and rotate the body so that you’re facing the opposite direction.
  • Immediately, squat back down and repeat.
  • To avoid getting dizzy, Rotate opposite shoulders with each rep.

18. Squat Hold

squat hold

Imagine the wall squat but without the wall.

  • Make sure to keep the back straight, head looking forward!

Am I starting to sound repetitive? That’s good!

19. Forward Wall Squat

front wall squat

Why is my husband demonstrating this squat? 

Because he rocks at it and I suck at these.

  • Place the feet about 1-inch away from the wall, keep your eyes fixed forward and lower down.
  • You’ll immediately feel your balance being tested, make sure to keep your feet flat on the ground.
  • Holding a weight actually helps.

20. Dumbbell Squat

db squats

A great option if you want to do a weighted squat but don’t have access to barbells.

  • Hold a weight in each hand, and squat down allowing the weights to go on the outside of your feet.
  • All the rules of a “squat’ apply.

21. Squat To Press

squat to press

This can be done with a set of dumbbells, a barbell or a kettlebell.

  • Hold the weight right above chest level.
  • Squat down, as you stand back up use your legs to help push the weight overhead.
  • Make sure to keep the core tight.
  • Don’t allow the back to arch while the weight is being pushed.

23. Suitcase Squat

suitecase squat

Sounds like fun right?

  • This is using a single weight (dumbbell or kettlebell)
  • It’s just like the DB squat above except only one hand holds a weight.
  • Why? Because it engages the core more and works smaller stabilizer muscles.

24. Single Arm KettleBell Squat

  • Hold the weight slightly in front of the chest, and complete a squat.
  • Other arm is there for stability.

25. Horizontal Squat Jump

long squat jumps

A traveling squat!

  • Squat down and explode not just up but out as well.
  • Land softly back into a squat and repeat.

26. Sumo Pulse Hops

Another great one to finish with. Really drives those legs (thighs) to be fatigued.

27. KettleBell Pop Squat

pop squat
  • This combines a row and a squat.
  • Lower into the squat, as you come up, pull the KB up as if doing an upright row. Toss the weight up and catch it.
  • Make it smooth and you’ll feel why this is such a great squat variation.

These are just 26 variations!
I say just, because I know we can make this list grow…

For example, just while typing, I remembered:

“Swivel squats”: Like a twister squat but instead of jumping, you simply rotation around one foot.

Squat walks”: In a squat position, walk forward or backwards.

So what do you think?

What’s your favorite squat on the list? 

Is there anything I left off? 

Did you get value from this post?

Check out these other exercise variations posts:

30 Plank Exercises and Variations

35 Pushup Exercises and Variations

30 Variations for Lunges

30 Burpee Exercise Variations

body-burn-challenges-blog-post-finisher

 

Comments:

  • This could not have been better timed! Confession – I can’t squat! I literally get to about 45 degrees and then either have to go up on my toes or I just fall over! I tried CrossFit this week and none of the coaches could figure it out and basically said they had never seen anyone with such a pathetic squat (my words, no theirs). Anyways, I’ve been doing a lot of research to try to figure it out and so far I’ve come up with serious lack of glute strength or even glutes not firing correctly…I’d love to know what you think (although I know it’s hard to given an opinion without seeing me do it!).

    • Hum, Danielle, it can definitely be underdeveloped quads, but let me do some research. I’ll get back to this one! lol. Instinct tells me that it’s likely quads but also a mobility (tightness) issue in the hip complex.

    • Wondering if maybe your calves and achilles tendons are too tight? I only mention because that’s always been an issue for me…because you said you have to go up on you toes it made me think of it…I started doing downward dogs (yoga) and then used a wall to stabilize until my calves and achilles loosened up…worth a try maybe?

      • I was thinking the same thing as well Christin. I am thinking it is likely a combination of both immobility due to flexibility (in both the hips and ankles) as well as imbalanced muscle tone.

        Stretching and using a foam roller is really helpful (downward dogs rock) and also working on a a squat with the wall squat. Just practicing the position. Other moves like hip extensions, lunges, and step-ups can help with the glutes but I would also end each workout practicing the squat form to help the muscles and brain communicate better. With practice you’ll get there!

        • Thanks Taylor and Christin – I’ve personally always suspected tight achilles, even with practicing yoga 3-4 times a week my heels JUST come to the floor, and only after warming up a bit. I think it’s a combination of that and glute weakness, I think I’m overcompensating with my quads and totally not engaging my glutes at all. Thanks for your help!

  • Cassie

    I’m super jealous of your pistol squat. To piggyback off of your goal post yesterday One Three month goal: to do an unassisted pistol squat. (other goal- to get back to clean eating after Baby Woos makes his appearance) I also love how Dan is in just one of your videos- too funny!

    • You’ll get there! Pistol squat domination.

  • I love squats (and my husband loves that I do them :P). The monkey squat is a new one, as is the frog jump squat. Can’t wait to give those a whirl. Thanks or the list!

  • split squats are my nemesis!

    • but they do a booty good!

  • I’m gonna share this with my run club (it’s based out of Florence but we have a facebook group, so I’m active there when I can’t run with them physically), this is a neat post and I love the demonstrations in it because you can’t get that with just words or even a picture. So, I’m excited to share and also try some new squat variations myself. You can’t get bored with squats or push ups with so many variations.

    And I so know why you bring your own weights there… I wish the gym had kettlebells! But on a side note, now I know what you guys do when I see you go into that room behind the treadmills.

    • Yay! Thanks, glad you like it! Haha, the “secret room” I am sure we look silly go in and out of there!

  • Tina

    Brilliant! Thank you! Discovered your podcasts last month, Liked on Facebook and love the links to your blog. I need to print this one…somehow!

    • Thanks Tina! Glad you found me!

  • Liz E

    Wow! Im so excited now. I love doing squats…. and now i have new challenges!!! Thank you so much for this! Appreciate it very much!

  • Oh!!! I love these. OK, except for maybe pistol squats. I don’t think that I will ever be able to do one!

  • But really what I like most are the animated GIFs and how when I scroll down the page, you are squatting in unison all down the page!

    • Hahaha, that’s funny it’s like i am squatting 27 reps at once! You’ll get the pistol!

  • Bea

    All sumo squats. Need inner thigh boost. Arigato.

  • Wall squat for the win! I do these all the time-on the phone, watching tv, in the shower… Great squat resource! Squat on!

    • Thanks! Yes wall squats rock! The burn so good!

  • Kim

    I love when you do these type posts!! I think I’m going to try the monkey squats tomorrow but I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to go as low as you do!!

    • You’ll be surprised! They are killer on the tush.

  • Jenna

    I love love love this article! My friend at school taught me how to do barbell squats this winter and I’ve been addicted ever since. The gifs are great and your descriptions are just as good so I know I’m doing them right. Hahah thank you so much for this article! (also, I like when you make more comprehensive pictures of workouts- they’re great for Pinterest.)

    • Thanks Jenna! That’s awesome you’re got the barbell squat going on! It’s my favorite too! So empowering.

  • Vik

    Awesome! Just decided with some girlfriends to do a July Squat Challenge. This will come in very handy to alternate different types of squats (particularly at the end of the month when 500 are due in a single day!)

    • That’s great, I can’t wait to hear how the challenge goes!

  • Steph

    What about box jumps–you can squat a bit after you land softly

  • One-legged squats are also killer! Great list – I see a lot of squat variations in my clients’ futures. 😉

    • Awesome, they will love it! lol

  • Vanessa

    Hey there, love this article and #19 made me laugh:) Just wanted to ask though, what would you say is the best for actually building muscle? (Not just toning) Im quite thin, and fit, but a bigger booty would be nice! Thanks

    • To build muscle and to tone are essentially the same thing, however using weights is the fastest way to shock the muscles. Either lift heavy for fewer reps or you can go lighter but you’ll have to exhaust the muscles through high reps. And make sure to eat enough calories to allow for muscle building (~300 more)

  • Rebecca

    Words don’t describe how much I love this. I’ve been doing split squats like crazy and my balance has definitely been tested (and improved!) but I love seeing the different variations. I love checking in here on Mondays because I find that’s the day I need the most motivation. Thanks so much!

  • Rebecca

    Also, I feel like I may have commented this on another post, but can I just say how much I appreciate that you show each movement in a video clip/GIF? This is so, so helpful! Most sites I find will show pictures but I really never have an idea if I’m getting the full movement right; seeing the whole thing is so hugely helpful.

    And damn girl — good job on the pistol squats! I’m working on them!

    • Thanks Rebecca! That’s why I do the gifs because I agree it’s frustrating to try and figure out a move just from a photo or verbal explanation! Keep working on those pistols!

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  • Stormi

    I love the gifs. Much nicer than going through an entire video for 1 example.
    I’m 17 and gained 20lbs since I’ve graduated and last saw the love. Being ridiculously self conscious, I’ve tried doing the 30 day Squat challenge and it said 50 on day 1. .-. I couldn’t do 5. I think the wall and 1/2 squat may be a good start for me.
    Thank you tons for putting this list together! <3

    • Good luck stormi! You can do it.

  • Randi

    I was curious of the advantages and benefits of the Pistol Squat? I ask, because I totally would love to be able to do them, but 8 years of volleyball-my knees are telling me otherwise.

    • For those with knee issues, they aren’t worth it. They are great for balance, range of motion, and strength but there are plenty of other great moves that can be done instead!

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  • Max Bouvrette

    Wonderful list! while it is pretty complete and it helped me add to the exercices i use with my clients, i also like adding variations to these exact exercices. For example, add a BOSU (with both feets on it or a single one) or add half a rep before doing a full rep

    • nogoodnews

      BOSU balls are retarded

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  • Mariano Cortese

    very good, but i think it lacks a warm up .

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