Squatting is a basic human movement. It’s a capability we should all strive to maintain as we age and something you you’ll often see butchered at your local fitness center or on the interwebz. For various reasons squatting isn’t always the easiest thing for people to do with great form as compared to say a kettlebell deadlift or an overhead press. And, unless you are specifically a strength athlete putting a bar on your back and squatting isn’t really a necessity. Again, for many people it’s simply a basic human movement that we want to improve. Over the past several years I have found that 3 squat variations in particular can take someone from a not so good, or just ok squat, to great. Here they are in likely the easiest to most difficult to learn.
Goblet Squat w/ Curl
Use a lighter ‘bell than you would normally goblet squat. As you descend put your elbows against the inside of your knees and pause at the bottom doing what is essentially a bicep curl. Then return to standing and repeat. The goal is improve your position and ability to get rather than load it up heavy.
Bottom Up Squat
This is slightly more advanced than the previous example as it requires some experience with a ‘bell in the Bottom Up position. For a newbie that may not be the best choice. For someone with training experience but not a great squat it may be the solution you’re looking for. Using 1 ‘bell is good too but 2 seems to work a little better for some reason. Use lots of chalk and focus. Heavy weight not required but this is a great self limiting exercise. If you can add weight eventually, do it. It is a fantastic full body exercise when done “heavy”. I’m exhausted after challenging sets of 5-8 reps.
For some people the Zercher squat is arguably the least comfortable because the bar sits in the elbows. However, many times I’ve been pleasantly surprised by both the improvement in people’s squats as well as their receptiveness to holding the bar in such a position. I like to hug the bar into my body and hinge at the hips a little more than the previous two squat examples. Then touch the bar to the tops of the thighs and stand up. If and when necessary go ahead and add weight.
The bottom line is that squatting is good for you. The best way to squat is the one that works for you, especially if your goal is to feel better and look good naked. These are just 3 options that you may want to try if you’re looking to improve your ability to squat or simply try something different.
– Mike Baltren