Squats are compound exercises that primarily target the lower body muscles and help burn a large amount of calories. They target and strengthen the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves, and work on some major upper body muscles too, including the back, core, and abs.
Although squats include beginner-friendly moves that can be performed with or without weight, doing them incorrectly can cause muscle imbalance and also lead to pain in the lower body and injuries. The good news is that there are several exercises that can help improve your overall squats performance and increase your strength along the way. These exercises can strengthen the muscles most used during squatting and help you attain a good squat form.
Best Workouts to Improve Your Squats
Ready to improve your squats technique? Here’s a list of some great exercises that are sure to perfect your squatting.
1. Barbell Hip Thrust
Include barbell hip thrust in your workout routine if your glutes are a problematic factor during the squat. This exercise increases your glute hypertrophy and works on your lockout strength as well.
Begin seated on the floor with your knees bent and feet wider than your hip distance. Place a bench behind you and rest your upper back against its edge. Ensure that your upper back rests against the center of the bench. Place a barbell across your hips and grab it firmly with both hands. Slowly press the barbell up while squeezing your glutes and keeping your hips in line with your knees and shoulders. Keep your core engaged throughout the move and tuck your chin in for better balance. Lower the barbell and your hips down and lift again.
2. Pullover Deadbug
Begin in a lying position with your face up and hold the kettlebell by its horn. Place it over your chest and bend your knees to a 90-degree angle. Firmly press your lower back onto the floor and extend one leg out while lowering the weight behind you. Once you lower the kettlebell, start to alternately extend your legs. Keeping a slight bend on your elbows allows your shoulder and core stability to execute the overhead motion.
3. Frog Stretch
Start in a tabletop position with your shoulders above your hands and allow your knees to move under your hips. Keep your feet on the floor. Now move your forearms into a plank position and spread your knees as wide as you can while ensuring that your shins are parallel to one another. With your toes turned out to the sides, push back using your forearms and try to sit back on your heels. Do not force your muscles, but only go as far as it feels comfortable. As you exhale, sink a little deeper and open your hips, just like you do at the bottom of a squat.
4. Front Foot Elevated Split Squat
Place one foot elevated on a low-height platform, such as a plyo box or a weight plate. Take a step back with your opposite foot and bend down so that your heel gets lifted off the floor. Lean toward your elevated foot and descend as far as you can. Stop at the bottom and push yourself back up using your quads. Repeat on the other side.
5. Good Morning
This exercise prevents the rounding of your torso and helps you get adjusted to hold the barbell on your back. It strengthens the lats and upper back and helps you perform effective and safe squats.
Begin standing with your feet at shoulder distance and knees slightly bent. Position a barbell on your shoulders and ensure that the bar rests properly on your traps. Engage your core, abs, and upper back, and hinge on your hips while pushing your hips back and torso forward. Go down until your upper body gets nearly parallel to the floor. Return to the start and repeat.
6. Bent-Over Row
Bent-over rows target the upper back muscles and help create a strong shelf for the barbell to rest on during the squats.
Stand tall with your legs shoulder-width apart and knees bent. Grab a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing each other. Now bend your upper body at a 45-degree angle and pull the weights up toward the sides of your torso. While pulling the dumbbells, keep your wrists stable and slowly lower the weights to the initial position.
Now that you know about these exercises, practice them regularly to boost your squats performance and strength. Add these exercises to your strength training session and aim to perform them at least thrice a week. Start with light weights, and gradually challenge yourself by increasing the reps.