By now most of you know squats are one of the basic, human moves that we make. We do them several times a day, every day. Up and down from a chair, off the toilet, and possibly picking things up off the floor. Because of that, squats are considered a “must do” in any exercise routine.
It can be easy to incorporate into our exercises. A basic squat requires no equipment and very little space. Especially during these days of COVID, it is more convenient to find things that we can do at home with no equipment.
You could even argue that you don’t need to warm up before doing a squat since we are doing them during the day with no warmup anyway. (Can you picture having to “run in place” while seated before getting up from a chair?)
But I digress. Since squats are so wonderful and so essential for our daily functioning, and since we need to keep doing them, it stands to reason that throwing in a few variations can go a long way towards keeping things interesting. On top of that, you can make the move a bit more complex to get more bang for your buck as well as save time!
In keeping with not using any equipment, here are a few variations that can be fun (depending on your perspective) and useful. And, they can get your heart rate up and your juices flowing better than just a regular squat. You can use these for a break during the day, a warm up, or stick them in to your routine for a boost (See all picture examples below).
First, let’s review the basic squat. Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Start the squat by bending your knees and sending your butt back. At the same time, hinge forward from your hips without letting your back get rounded. Make sure your knees track over your feet and do not go past your feet as you come down. Making sure your butt goes back first will prevent this from happening. Arms can be by your sides, out front, or even overhead if you are flexible enough in your shoulders.
Squat with side reach.
Place your feet wide apart for the squat. Squat down, making sure to track your knees over your feet (don’t let them dip in or out). On the way up, bring one arm overhead and to the side, and bend your torso over to the side slightly as well. Come back to center, squat again, and reach to the other side. Repeat this sequence 10 times or more.
Place your feet very wide apart. Squat down. On the up phase, lift your right leg to the side, keeping the knee bent. Come back to center, and do the same using the left leg. Repeat this sequence 10 times or more.
Squat with heel lift.
Again, place your feet wide apart. Lift one heel and keep it up as you do 10 squats. You can do as full a range of motion as you can as you do this, or keep the motion smaller and pulse up and down 10 times. Do the same with the heel of the other foot lifted.
Split squat narrow.
This one is a little tricky, because if you position yourself wrong, it can hurt your knees. Place one foot in front of the other so you are in a staggered stance. Keep your weight evenly distributed between your front and back foot. Lift the heel of the back foot. Squat by bending both knees. You should feel this mostly in the butt of the forward leg. If you don’t, it means you can be putting too much strain on the back knee. Keep this one slow to make sure you keep your form. Do 10 times, then switch feet position.
Squat with running arms.
Last but not least, there is one that you can use to really get yourself going. This one is especially good if you are listening to music and want to get with the beat.
Place your feet a little wider than hip distance apart. Do a classic squat by bending pushing your butt back, bending your knees, and keeping the knees tracking over your feet. Bring your arms slightly forward with elbows bent. As you go up and down, pump our arms, alternating, as you would if you were running. Get into a rhythm! You will find that this one makes the squat easier as well.
So that’s it! As I said, feel free to add these into your life for some variations on the basic squat. This can give you a nice insight as to what muscles are working for each one, since they will all feel different.
© 2021 Kristen Carter. All rights reserved.
Photo Source: klebercordeiro /iStock