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24 May, 2019

Squatting is a fundamental human movement pattern that involves nearly every muscle in the body. Squats are one of the best functional exercises out there, promoting mobility and balance to help complete day-to-day activities, while also helping to burn fat and build muscle. If there was one exercise that should be included in everyone’s workout routine, it should be the squat.

Many variations of the squat exist, making it more of an exercise concept rather than just a single exercise itself. By changing the load, form, speed, foot placement and more, you have a library of different exercise variations to choose from. When deciding which type of squat to program for either yourself or a client, it’s important to consider factors such as body type, skill level, injury history, fitness goals and fitness history. Mastering the fundamental movement should be the starting point for someone new to squatting, with more advanced variations being added in as progressions.

Here are five different squat progression exercises that can be used for people with all different levels of fitness and experience:

 

Wall Squat with Stability Ball

A great introduction to the squatting movement pattern, using a stability ball will allow for both balance and good posture to be developed, while still having the added support available.

Teaching Points:

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart with a stability ball between the lower back and a wall
  • Bend the knees and lower to a 90° position at the knee or full range of movement
  • Pushing weight through the heels, return to starting position

 

Bodyweight Squat

Bodyweight squats can be performed virtually anywhere with no equipment required, and is a movement that can be carried over into everyday life. It’s important for the bodyweight squat technique to be nailed before progressing to weighted squats.

Bodyweight Squat

Teaching Points:

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart and feet slightly pointed outwards
  • Place hands in front of the body or on hips for balance
  • Place body weight back on the heel of both feet and lower butt to the ground as though sitting back on a chair
  • Maintain neutral spine, keep chest up and feet flat on floor
  • Lower to a 90° position at the knee or full range of movement
  • Pushing weight through the heels, return to starting position

 

Goblet Squat

Goblet squats are a great way to introduce weight into the squatting movement. This exercise is used to promote the importance of maintaining an upright torso and will help strengthen the leg and core muscles.

Teaching Points:

  • Stand holding a kettlebell close to your chest and feet shoulder width apart
  • Perform movement in the same way as the bodyweight squat above

Barbell Front Squat

Once the goblet squat has been learned, the front squat can be introduced to allow greater weights to be lifted. Similarly to the goblet squat, the barbell front squat heavily targets the quadriceps and core muscles as the bar is held across the front of the shoulders. The frontal load of the weight forces an upright position to be maintained and correct form to be upheld throughout the movement.

Teaching Points:

  • Start with feet shoulder width apart with toes slightly turned outwards
  • Lift the barbell off the rack and place the bar so that it is sitting on the anterior deltoids, with the elbows high and chest up
  • Keep the core braced and focal point ahead
  • On the downward movement: Break at the hips and knees, lower until parallel or below whilst maintaining a neutral spine. Keep the chest up, core braced and elbows high
  • On the upward movement: Keep the heels flat and push through the floor. Extend the hips and knees whilst keeping the chest up and elbows high

Barbell Back Squat

Once the above progression exercises have been performed and practiced, the barbell back squat can be introduced. The barbell back squat utilises the muscles in the posterior chain more than the quad dominant front squat, including both the hamstrings and glutes. This exercise is a core lift in strength and conditioning programs as it is extremely effective in building overall strength, developing power and assisting in improving performance.

Teaching Points:

  • Start with feet shoulder width apart with toes slightly turned outwards
  • Lift the barbell off the rack and position the bar so that it is sitting on the upper traps, with the arms forming a strong W position
  • Keep the chest up, core braced and focal point ahead
  • Perform movement in the same way as the barbell front squat

 

Barbell Back Squat

 

 

If you’d like to learn more about different exercise progressions or increase your health and fitness knowledge in general, our Cert III & IV in Fitness could be the perfect course for you.

 

 

 

 

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