The squat is one of the most classic exercises to work your butt and legs, and for good reason. When performing squats, you’re working the greatest number of joints and muscle groups while also enhancing core stabilization. This means that in one single move, you’re simultaneously strengthening the glutes, quads, and calves, as well as the abs and hips.
While basic squats are a good way to get started, there’s a number of variations to increase calorie burn and overall strength and fitness, and improve balance. Here are more than two dozen of different squats, ranging from classic to more complex. Try adding some of them into your next workout routine, or do two to three of the moves every other day to freshen up your routine.
1 BODY-WEIGHT SQUATS
Stand with feet shoulder-distance apart, hands in front of chest, toes turned out slightly. Bend knees about 90 degrees, pushing glutes behind you. Pushing through heels, straighten to the starting position.
Stand with feet hip-distance apart, hands in front of chest and toes turned out slightly. Bend knees as deeply as you can, lowering past 90 degrees. Push through heels to the starting position.
Stand with feet hip-distance apart. Rise up onto balls of feet, then lower down into a squat, reaching both arms forward. Keeping heels raised, rise back up to the starting position.
2 WEIGHTED OR RESISTED SQUATS
Squat and press
Stand holding dumbbells at shoulders, elbows bent. Bend knees about 90 degrees, pushing glutes behind you. As you stand, press weights above head, keeping hands aligned with shoulders. Lower to the starting position.
Start in wide stance, heels on weight plates and toes turned out. Hold a dumbbell vertically in front of body, arms extended. Bend knees 90 degrees, keeping body tall and pressing knees out. Hold one count, then return to the starting position.
Stand with feet shoulder-distance apart, holding a barbell or body bar in both hands above head. Squat down, bending knees 90 degrees while keeping bar above head and arms extended. Push through heels to rise back up to the starting position.
Stand holding dumbbell in front of chest with elbows pointing down. Bend knees just a bit past 90 degrees until elbows are inside of knees. Push through heels to straighten to the starting position.
Kneeling barbell squat
Kneel on a mat holding barbell or body bar in both hands above head. Sit back onto heels, keeping arms extended. Rise up, pushing pelvis forward and squeezing glutes. Lower glutes back to heels.
Inner-thigh pulsing squat
Stand with feet hip-distance apart and with a medicine ball between thighs. Extend arms forward parallel to floor. Squat down, squeezing ball between thighs, while pushing hips behind you. Hold one count, then rise back up to the starting position.
Stand holding light dumbbell in right hand and heavy dumbbell in left hand at shoulder height, elbows forward. Squat down, using core muscles to stay centered. Push through heels to the starting position.
Full-body resisted squat
Put a long resistance band under arches of both feet and around the base of your shoulders. Squat down, extending arms forward, parallel to floor. Hold one count, then push through the band’s resistance to return to the starting position.
Resistance band squat
Stand with feet hip-distance apart with small band around bottom of thighs. Bring arms forward in front of chest. Squat down, pushing thighs against band. Hold one count; rise back up to the starting position.
Bulgarian split squat
Stand a few feet in front of a flat bench, holding weights at sides with arms extended. Place the top of left foot on the bench behind you. Lower to floor, bending the front knee 90 degrees; keep right knee over ankle and shoulders stacked over hips. Push through right heel to return to the starting position. Do all reps on this leg; switch sides and repeat.
3 BALANCING SQUATS
Begin by crossing right ankle over left thigh, right knee out to side. Bring both arms forward, parallel to floor. Squat down, pushing hips back and pressing right knee down. Rise back up to the starting position.
Stand holding light dumbbells in each hand, palms facing in. Lift right foot forward as you bend left knee, coming into a deep squat. Aim to bring left hamstring to meet calf; hold weights forward for counterbalance. Push through left heel and lower arms to return to the starting position.
Stand in front of a flat bench. Raise right foot forward a few inches off floor, leg extended; bring arms forward to shoulder height. Bend left knee as you lower down toward bench; keep knee from tracking over toes. Push through left heel to rise back up to the starting position.
Hold top of left foot in left hand, knee bent. Squat down on right leg, reaching toward floor with right hand. Stand up.
4 DYNAMIC SQUATS
Stand with hands behind head, elbows out to sides, feet just wider than shoulder distance, with toes turned out a bit. Squat down, keeping knees tracking over toes. Staying in low squat, walk forward for 5-10 steps, then turn around and walk back.
Start in eagle pose, right thigh crossed over left; interlace arms so right biceps threads under left elbow with right fingers touching left palm. Holding here, bend left knee while pushing hips back. Hold one count, then press back to the starting position.
Bench squat jump
Stand a few feet to one side of an incline bench or a plyo box. Lower into a squat, then go a little deeper. Pushing through your heels, power yourself up and onto the bench. Land with knees soft. Step back to the starting position.
Do a body-weight squat, then explode off the floor, powering the movement through your heels and using arms for momentum. Land in a squat.
Kneel on floor or on a mat with your butt resting on your heels. Using the power of your core and lower body, vigorously explode off floor and onto feet. Lower back to the starting position.
Start in a squat position, hands together in front of chest. Jump legs out as if you were doing a jumping jack, remaining in the squat. Jump feet back in together. Stay in squat throughout the set.
Squat tuck jump
Lower into a squat and jump up explosively off the floor, bringing knees toward chest at the top of the jump. Land with knees soft.
Stand with feet shoulder-distance apart. Squat down, bringing hands toward shoulders with elbows pointing down. Explode up off floor, straightening legs in a wide V while pushing arms down. Land with knees soft in the starting position.
5 EQUIPMENT SQUATS
Stand with left foot on top of a low box or step and right foot several feet away. Lower into a squat, keeping hands in front of chest with elbows down; make sure knees track over the centre of both feet. Push through both heels to rise back up to the starting position.
Stand on a Bosu device with soft side down, feet toward edges of platform. Lower into a squat, bringing arms forward to help you maintain balance and keep abs engaged. Squeeze glutes to rise back up to the starting position.
Glider side squat
Stand with feet hip-distance apart, left foot on a gliding disk and hands in front of chest. Bend right knee 90 degrees, pushing right glute behind you as you slide left leg to the left, keeping left leg straight. Hold at the bottom for one count, then stand up while pulling left foot back to centre.
Turning squat jump
Stand holding medicine ball at chest height. Squat down, keeping ball in front of chest. Jump up, turn 90 degrees to the left and land in a squat. Repeat, turning 90 degrees to the left with each rep. On your next set, jump to the right side.