7 Squat Variations for Shredded Legs

Squats are one of the best exercises you can do for your upper legs. Not only do they engage your core, but your hamstrings and glutes do a lot of work as well. But what do you do if you’ve mastered the squat? Want a new challenge to conquer? Here are a few squat variations to try for some wicked quads:

Goblet Squat

To reduce the strain on your back, you have to try goblet squats. Instead of resting the weight across the back or front of your shoulders, clasp a dumbbell to your chest. Your shoulders and arms will do the work of holding the weight, but you won’t feel that twinge in your back. It’s much easier to focus on proper form thanks to the reduced strain.

Front Squat

This isn’t the easiest exercise, but it’s great to help you work the front half of your body. With this squat, the barbell is gripped across the front of your shoulders, supported by your hands. It’s good for your shoulders, and it will help you to focus on getting the form right. After all, with the weight in the front, the load is taken off your back.

Back Squat

A back squat is ideal for those who want to give their lower back and abs a good workout, but it’s not the best if you have lower back problems. Try this exercise if your back can handle it, or use a weight belt to support your spine. You want to rest the barbell not on the back of your neck, but on the back of your shoulders. Make sure to point your toes slightly outward to reduce the strain on your knees.

Split Squat

This is the perfect cross between lunges and squats! Assume the lunge position–one leg extended, the other behind you. Instead of stepping forward or backward, simply squat straight down. You can grip a dumbbell in each hand to add weight, or use weight on just one side to engage your core. The weight on your back leg will hit your hamstrings and glutes wonderfully, and your front leg will get a solid quad workout.

Pistol Squat

Not for the faint of heart or weak of leg! Pistol Squats are one of the best bodyweight exercises you can do to build strong quads, and you’ll find that they’re incredibly difficult! Instead of doing a two-legged squat, the squat is done with a single leg, with the other leg extended parallel to the floor. This places all of the strain on the one legs, engages the core and hips, and forces you to focus on your balance. It’s not an easy movement, but it’s AMAZING for building strong legs.

Bulgarian Split Squat

This one is almost exactly like the regular split squat; the only difference lies in the elevation of your back foot. You can rest your foot on a bench, and it will increase the weight on your front leg. It will also force your hips to work, and it can lead to some pretty impressive gains in quad strength. Definitely worth a try if you want to up the difficulty level!

 Overhead Squat

Try this one to help you develop the strength needed for the snatch and clean and jerk! Instead of resting the weight on your shoulders, extend your arms and hold the weight high overhead. You’ll have to maintain the proper upper body form (shoulder blades pressed together, arms locked in place, hands facing the ceiling) as well as lower body form, but it’s a great way to help you learn the proper form for this Olympic strength exercise.

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