Heel Elevated Squats — Benefits, Technique, and Variations

Heel elevated squats target your quads better while reducing strain on other muscles (Image via Pexels @Antoni Shkraba)
Heel elevated squats target the quads better while reducing strain on other muscles (Image via Pexels/Antoni Shkraba)

Heel elevated squats are a variant of the standard squat. They are performed by placing weight plates under the heels while performing the squat movement.

No matter how hard you try, you cannot avoid the squat movement, as it's a necessary movement. Every action you take involves some sort of squat, whether it's sitting down in a chair, getting out of a car, or lowering yourself onto the toilet.

Heel elevated squats take the traditional exercise to a different level. Read on to know how.

How to do Heel Elevated Squats

Here's how you can do heel elevated squats.

  • Put some weight plates or a squat wedge on the floor so that you can work on your squat.
  • Place your feet on the raised platform so that the toes are slightly further apart than hip-width apart and only the heels are on the platform.
  • Position your feet such that the knees are slightly bent. It's important that the toes touch the floor.
  • Take a few deep breaths; tense up your abdominal muscles and quadriceps, and squat down as slowly as you can.
  • At the very bottom of the movement, pause for a moment.
  • Bring your body quickly back to the starting position while exhaling fully and driving your weight through the heels of your feet.
  • At the top, pause for a moment, and contract the quads.
  • Perform the recommended amount of repetitions.

Some tips for perfecting your technique:

  • Check to see that the hips are not being pushed back. The objective should be to sit up straight and be in a seated position.
  • It's important to keep the heels from rising above the platform.
  • Throughout the exercise, make sure to keep the torso upright.
  • When performing the raised heel squat, make sure that you do not allow the knees to cave inward.
  • Coose either a plate weighing 2.5 or 5 pounds to use. When doing the exercise, larger plates can throw you off balance.
  • During the portion of the squat, known as the concentric phase, you shouldn't lift your heels or toes off the raised platform.
  • Maintain a slight arch in the lower back throughout the exercise.

Check out these exercises to improve the squats.

Benefits of Heel Elevated Squats

Squats are one of the best exercises to build strength and muscle, increase bone density, strengthen the core and tone up the body. Heel elevated squats have some particular benefits, which are listed below:

1) Improved Squat Depth

You can squat more deeply by using an elevated platform, as it places the ankles in a better position than the standard squat. A small elevation change can have a significant impact.

The first time you achieve depth while performing the exercise, you might start crying if you have never attempted the elevated heel variation of the lift or gone below parallel on the regular squat.

2) More Activation of Quads

Do not hesitate to switch to the elevated heel squat variation if you do not feel a pump in your quads while performing the traditional squats or if you feel your lower back has taken over.

Heel elevated squats improve quad muscle fibre recruitment by expanding the knee range of motion while decreasing hip range. A higher volume and more intense workout for the front of the legs is produced by the raised heel squat, which lessens the stress on the supporting muscles.


3) Lowered Stress on Lower Back

Conventional squats can be very taxing on your lower back and lumbar spine, especially if you go deep and heavy. If you're a beginner or don't have the ideal squatting form, things could get much worse.

Raised heel squats relieve lower back tension, as unlike a regular squat, the upper body remains relatively upright while you perform the exercise. Lower back and lumbar spine tension can be reduced by allowing the knees to cross the toes and pushing the hips down rather than back in heel elevated squats.

4) Easier on Hips and Ankles

Heel elevated squats are one of the most effective squat variations for people with restricted ankle and hip flexor mobility, as they lessen the strain on the ankles and hips.

This is a great exercise for people recovering from injury, as it's gentler on the ankles, hip flexors, lower back, and lumbar spine. However, you should consult a doctor before doing any exercise if you're recovering from injury.


Variations of Heel Elevated Squats

Check out these variations of heel elevated squats:

1) Heel Elevated Goblet Squat

How to do:

  • Place two weight plates on the ground about hip-width apart.
  • Keep the balls of your feet on the ground as you stand with your heels up.
  • Hold the dumbbells or kettlebells in front of the chest.
  • Brace your core while bringing the shoulders back and down.
  • Squat as low as you can without rounding the lower back while maintaining an upright posture by bending at the knees.
  • Rapidly make your way back to the starting position.
  • Repeat as many times as is necessary.

2) Dumbbell Squat

How to do:

  • Hold a dumbbell by your side with both hands.
  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart as you stand. Keep the back straight and head up. This will be where things will start.
  • By pushing the hips back and down, slowly lower your body towards the floor while inhaling deeply.
  • Squat as low as you can or at the very least till the thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Push through your heels, and slowly raise your body back up.
  • Repeat as necessary.

Final Thoughts

You should stick with the traditional squat till you establish a strong foundation, especially if you're a beginner.

Heel elevated squats may provide you with the quad muscle fibre stimulation you need to break through the overhead ceiling if you've reached a plateau with the standard squat.

They are a great exercise to target the quads while reducing hamstring, glute, and lower back recruitment.

Check out these effective squat exercises for stronger glutes and hips.

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Edited by Bhargav
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