5 squat variations that’ll maximise your leg day workout

Squats may be the most ubiquitous bodyweight exercise in the book—it is a part of every strength training workout, requires no equipment and can be done in small spaces too. But they’re also deceptively hard to nail down, and doing a squat incorrectly can leave you with sore knees. We spoke to fitness experts to get their take on the move.

“Squats don’t just help you tone your quadriceps but also help you tone your legs. They help build stronger joints and increase connective tissue strength,” says Mumbai-based mobility coach Shereena Master. “Squats work your upper and lower body muscles simultaneously to help you power through daily functional tasks like walking, bending and climbing stairs,” she confirms. If you work to perform squats on a regular basis, you’re likely to avoid injuries while doing these movements too. “Plus, runners, and those who do high intensity workouts, benefit greatly from this exercise as it works the abs, quads, hamstrings and calves, strengthening all of them to boost performance,” she explains. Here are all the different variations you might see in your routines.

1) Wall sit

This exercise lengthens the spine and works the leg muscles. To do it right, Lean against a wall and keeping the back aligned to the way, slowly bend the knees. “The movement works the hamstrings, inner thigh and calf muscles. The position forces you to rest most of your weight on your legs and that is good for your calves. The key is to balance here and make sure both legs have equal body weight. I’ve seen this exercise being especially beneficial for kids and as it forces them to concentrate and focus,” says Master.

2) Single leg squat

This exercise puts your balance to test. It requires focus and works your abs, glutes, calves and even your front hip flexors. Master recommends this as a fun way to combine balance and strength. “Since it is a single leg exercise, it isolates the thigh muscle, working best for runners, dancers, and those who suffer from knee niggles,” she adds. Make sure your core is held in, hips are square and back is as straight as possible. “Slowly make your way down without letting your hip lift, drop or twist. Squeeze your butt on the way up,” advises Master.

3) Pistol squat

“The test is being able to go all the way down without letting the arch of your foot collapse or lifting your heel off the ground and rounding your back too much,” says Master. Engage the core, as that helps to maintain the overall balance. An advanced squat, this builds tremendous strength in your lower back and legs, improves your balance and increases your ankle and joint mobility.

4) Plié squat

This exercise majorly focuses on warming up and toning the inner thigh muscles and are also perfect to open the hips. “The wider your legs are, the deeper the squat, the greater the burn. Make sure your back is straight, core and butt engaged and knees are over toes whilst squatting,” adds Master. If you want a add a little challenge to your core and balance, lift your heels off the ground.

5) Side kick squat

Bend your knees, lower the hips, taking the weight in your heels. Then come back to the standing position, straighten the legs completely and lift the right leg out to the side, squeezing the outer glute. “It is a weight transfer exercise, engaging all the tiny muscles in your body to keep your posture intact and fire up all the muscles before a HIIT workout. You also get to torch some calories,” states Master.

The article was first published in Vogue


  • Aparrna Gupta

    Transitioning from crafting stories for The Asian Age and Bombay Times to setting beauty trends in Verve, Aparrna Gupta’s journey has always revolved around resonant storytelling. Her prowess in content creation is unparalleled, with articles featured in renowned publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel India, Lifestyle Asia, Elle, and Femina. She also excels in content ideation, trend identification, mood board creation, and product styling. Her expertise has proven invaluable to homegrown brands, enabling them to authentically connect with their audience.

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