Most of us focus on the upper body when we train. Yes, it’s important, but so is your lower body. Whether it’s walking or getting up from a chair, your lower body helps a lot. We all sit for a long time, especially if we work in an office. If there is no chair, we are either slumped on the couch or on the bed. But eventually you have to get back up, and that’s why lower body exercise is essential. The squat is an effective and versatile exercise for the lower body. Squats are great for your legs and glutes and can help make everyday activities easier. A basic squat is really effective, but there’s so much more you can do. An expert shares squat variations for strength.
Health Shots reached out to fitness guru Aminder Singh, of Team Aminder fame, to find out what variations of squats can be done.
Benefits of squats
Squats allow people to manage their weight more effectively, says Singh. This is a highly functional exercise that facilitates various movements, such as getting up from a bed, chair or car. A squat engages the ankle, knee, and hip joints, making it essential for strengthening your lower body. Squats are particularly effective for improving stability in the knees, hips and ankles.
Variations of squats to build strength
To do the basic squat, simply stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and squat down while keeping your back straight. You can also try these squat variations:
1. Sumo squat
You will need to stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out, then squat down. That’s sumo squat for you.
2. Goblet squat
You can perform the basic squat by holding a dumbbell in front of your chest, says the expert.
3. Overhead squat
This time you need to hold a barbell above your head while performing the basic squat.
4. Heel Lift Squat
Perform the basic squat with your heels elevated on a platform, and this is the heel elevated squat.
5. Box Squat
All you have to do is add a box below you as you perform the basic squat.
6. Wall squat or wall sit
If you can do yoga against a wall, you can also use it to do a squat! Just stand with your back to the wall. Next, walk your feet away from the wall and bend your knees to squat. Make sure your back is pinned to the wall throughout the movements.
All of these squat variations target the muscles of your lower body, focusing primarily on the quads, hamstrings, and glutes, says Singh. The choice of variation depends on individual factors such as ankle and hip mobility and body proportions.
Tips for squats
Squat variations help improve functional capacity by increasing overall strength. They allow people to more effectively manage not only their body weight, but also additional weight if they choose. By targeting key muscle groups and improving joint stability, squats help improve strength, balance and overall body coordination.
But if you have lower back pain, knee pain, or limited ankle flexibility, try avoiding squats. It’s important to prioritize your safety and avoid exercises that could aggravate existing conditions or cause discomfort. This is why consulting a doctor or fitness trainer can help determine appropriate alternatives or modifications for those who should avoid squats.