There are different types of squats that provide slightly different benefits, but the overall focus is leg training first and foremost. Squats are compound exercises that also provide extra benefits through muscular contractions in your abdominal muscles and glutes as well.
The fact is that there are multiple squat variations to choose from, and performing each one is the best way to increase the strength and definition of your leg muscles. Muscle mass is an added plus if you eat enough calories to allow this change to happen.
What could be better than a compound lift working multiple muscle groups? How about increased hormone production? Squats are one of the top exercises to perform that allow the release of extra hormones that provide performance benefits such as testosterone and growth hormones.
Yes ladies, testosterone applies to you as well. Many women in their late twenties and early thirties find themselves low in energy and feeling fatigued, which is caused by low test levels.
Here are the top 6 different types of squats you should be performing.
- Back Squat
This is the most commonly performed barbell squat all across the world. You most likely see this being performed at the gym on a daily basis, and most use the word “squat” interchangeably with this exercise.
The back squat is definitely one of the top two exercises you can train with, in my opinion, and the second one being conventional deadlifts.
The interesting facts about back squats are that it targets the lower leg muscles with greater emphasis – especially your quads. However, the reason why this was adopted as an essential tool for trainers is because it targets the posterior chain muscles with significant emphasis as well.
Your posterior chain muscles being worked the most are spinal erectors, glutes, and hamstrings.
Do the muscles sound familiar from other articles? They probably should since they play a vital role in your core strength and daily movements as well. Seriously; if you want lower body training in one movement then it is the barbell squat with moderate (8-10 reps) to heavy (4-6 reps) loads.
- Front Squat
Out of all the different types of squats; the popularity of front squat has grown the most over the past decade, which is probably due to the use of this exercise by CrossFit enthusiasts.
You basically place the barbell across the front of your shoulders; hence the name of this exercise. The emphasis is of course on your leg muscles, but the placement of the bar on the front of your body makes you lean forward, and to counter this you have to contract your core stabilizer muscle harder to maintain proper balance and form.
Aside from core strength, front squats place significantly more emphasis on your quads than back squats do.
- Bulgarian Split Squat
This exercise is placed into a category known as unilateral training, which means you are using one side of your body to contract against the resistance.
For more in-depth info on unilateral training; checkout my article published on STACK.
Unilateral training is beneficial in multiple ways, and is often used by powerlifters and bodybuilders to increase performance. Here are the top 3 reasons to perform Bulgarian split squats:
- Correcting strength or hypertrophy deficiencies
- Targeting core muscles
- Increasing leg hypertrophy
Strength and hypertrophy deficiencies happen pretty often, and most people have no idea it is even needed. This is when one side of your body is stronger than the other, and for this exercise it would be one of your legs is stronger or bigger (it happens, don’t freak out).
You can fix this issue by performing this exercise with more resistance on one leg than the other until your body has caught up.
Your body’s core muscles are going to be under a lot of stress to keep your body balanced and protect your spine, so Bulgarian split squats are one of the best compound core strengtheners to consider.
Lastly, you can actually place on a heavy load to get some great leg muscle gains while performing this variation of the squat. I’m sure you see people performing this with really low load amounts, but with practice, proper form, and a spotter or safety cage; you can get some serious leg mass going on.
Try it with different variations such as a barbell in the front or back of your shoulders, with a goblet hold, or two dumbbells.
- Overhead Squat
The overhead squat is when you have the barbell over your head like a shoulder press, and then squat your body down while keeping your arms fully extended.
Needless to say your body is working pretty hard to stay erect and prevent you from falling over. This exercise focuses on balance and mobility.
Olympic lifters frequently use this exercise because it helps to practice the barbell snatch lift. For fitness enthusiasts, you get the benefits or core, leg, abdominal, and upper body training.
- Bottom Position Squats
You may or may not have heard of this exercise being called Anderson Squats, which is the same thing. You need a squat rack for the movement that has safety bars that you can adjust to the lowest part of your squatting position.
You set the barbell up with moderate to heavy load settings, and then position yourself under the bar. You basically have to squat the weight back up without any momentum assistance or “stretch reflex”.
This is for the serious person working on leg strength, power, and “exploding” leg energy. Football players and wrestlers benefit greatly from this movement.
- Zercher Squats
Out of all the different types of squats you should be utilizing within your training programs, the Zercher squat is the least most commonly performed exercise. Powerlifters are generally the primary ones who use this squat variation because it carries over to the deadlift movement. Why?
Because Zercher squats focus on torso emphasis over lower body training. Odd right?
For this exercise, you place the barbell in the pocket of your arms where the inside elbows and forearms meet. You curl your arms and grasp your hands together against your chest to keep a firm grip on the front of your body.
Everybody can benefit from this exercise for core strengthening and even arm training since you are increasing blood flow flexing your arms to hold the weight up.
Behold the Different Types of Squats
So there you have it – 6 beneficial different types of squats that provide different means to keeping your body strong and above average. Obviously your legs are going to get a nice workout from either exercise even the Zercher squat. Pay close attention to your squat form to prevent any injuries to your spine, lower back, knees, or any other region on your legs.
Dynamic stretching prior to intense squat movements is recommended to help get the blood flowing and loosen up your joints for the movements to come. Stay strong and fit friends! Do it. Live it.