Squat beginners, do these 6 squats before the barbell

The Best Back Exercises For The Beginner Here

The Best Core Exercises For The Beginner Here

The squat is a one stop shop when it comes to losing weight, building muscle, and getting strong. It’s also a movement you have done since you were knee-high to a grasshopper. But when you haven’t squatted for a while (besides going to the loo and sitting down) and you’re starting an exercise program, it’s not the greatest idea to approach the barbell.

Although barbell squats are great, it’s best to build a solid foundation beforehand. Squats have a ton of moving parts and need good upper back strength, spine stability, hip mobility, knee stability and ankle mobility.

You can squat without those things but when you start to load up, it may get ugly. Better to progress through these squat variations to build a rock-solid squat so you will look great in your favorite pants and avoid pain and injury.  

And here are six squat variations to do that

Note- These squats will progress from the easiest variation to more difficult. If one squat is too easy, then move to the next variation.

Assisted Squats

There are various assisted squats but the doorknob (just imagine my squat rack is a doorknob) is a great variation to dial in squat form. When load isn’t part of the equation, and you ‘re holding on to something, you can concentrate on dialing in good squat form. Use this variation to groove the squat pattern when it’s been a while since you’ve darkened the doors of a gym. 

Benefits of The Assisted Squat For Beginners

A great squat variation when you’re starting out because it’s easy to do.

Holding the doorknob encourages good squat form.

How to Do The Assisted Squat

Hold on to the doorknob (or something solid) with two hands. Keep your shoulders down, chest up and hold on lightly to your object so your legs will do most of the work and not your arms. Squat down between your knees, keeping your chest up until you reach your desired squat depth. Pause for a second and squat back up to the starting position and reset and repeat.

Bodyweight Box Squat

Now you’ve grooved the squat with the assisted squat, use a box as a reference point to get yourself into a good squat position without help. Having the box behind you reinforces sitting between your knees and not over your knees Plus, if you have sore knees, reducing the range of motion helps reduce some of this discomfort while still training the squat.

Bodyweight Box Squat For Beginners

Sitting to a box makes it easier to perform the squat with good form.

The reduced ROM helps if you have knee pain.

Like the assisted squat, it’s easy to pick up and do,

How to Do The Bodyweight Box Squat

Stand in front of a box, bench, or chair with your feet in your preferred squat position with your chest up and shoulders down. Squat down between your knees slowly towards the box and sit down. Pause for a second and stand up straight. Reset your starting position and repeat.

Bodyweight Squat

Once you have grooved the squat with the bodyweight box squat, it’s time to take away the safety net. Bodyweight squat is slightly more difficult because it turns the exercise into one continuous motion because you’re not stopping on the box. Because you don’t have any assistance make sure to keep your chest up and shoulders down to maintain a neutral spine. Performing this in front of a mirror will give you a better idea of your form.

Benefits of The Bodyweight Squat For Beginners

There’s no need for equipment and can be performed anywhere. 

Improves leg strength and balance.

Great movement to do before loading the squat. 

How to Do The Bodyweight Squat

Stand up straight and get your feet in your preferred squat stance. With your chest up, shoulders down and holding your hands underneath your chin, squat between your knees until your elbows touch or almost touch your legs. Stand back up to the starting position and reset and repeat.

Sumo Squat

The sumo squat is performed with the dumbbell between your legs in a wider stance, like sumo wrestler stance. Hence the name sumo squat. With the weight closer to your legs, this makes this squat easier to do and is a perfect segway to the squat variations below. It’s performed with either one dumbbell (easier) or holding two dumbbells in each hand. This adds further strength to your legs while safely performing the squat.

Benefits of The Sumo Squat For Beginners

It’s easy to perform while safely loading the squat pattern.

Helps to improve finger and grip strength.

It is easily regressed (using one dumbbell) or progressed (using two dumbbells).

How to Do The Sumo Squat

Get into a wider stance with your toes pointed out holding the end of one dumbbell with both hands. With your chest up and shoulders down, squat between your knees until the dumbbell touches the ground. Pause for a second and squat back up and squeeze your glutes at the end. Reset and repeat for reps.

Goblet Squat

The Goblet squat has revolutionized the way squat is performed and taught throughout the world. If you don’t know what a Goblet squat is, Dan John will come over to your house and slap you upside the head.  But what makes it a good strength move for beginners?

Holding the weight anteriorly (in front of you) encourages you to stand up straighter, get the upper back tight and puff out that chest which sets the table for good squat. And the weight acts as a counterbalance that encourages you to sit between the legs and not over the knees. All these are requirements for a well performed squat.

Benefits of the Goblet Squat For Beginners

Is easily modified by reducing the ROM by using a bench if hip mobility is an issue.

Holding the weight in front encourages the lifter to get into a good squat position.

Helps the beginning lifter build their confidence and strength.

How to Do the Goblet Squat

Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell at the chest level, below the chin. Keep chest up, shoulders down and get feet in your preferred squat position. Slowly squat down between your knees, keeping your chest up until you reach your appropriate depth, pause and drive through the feet to starting position. Reset and repeat.

Dumbbell Front Squat

The dumbbell front squat exercise provides an extra challenge for your core and shoulders because you’re holding more weight in front of your shoulders. Plus, the weight is further away from your legs.  Your upper back strength is tested here because the weight is pulling you forward while you’re trying to maintain a straight back. This variation is best done after you have nailed the goblet squat and you are ready for increased load.

Benefits of the Dumbbell Front Squat For Beginners

Improves core strength because the weight is pulling you down while you’re maintaining an upright posture.

Allows you to lift more weight for added strength, fat loss or muscle.

Increases upper back strength (because the weight is pulling you down) which is needed for good posture.

How to Do the Dumbbell Front Squat

Curl two dumbbells to the front of your shoulders and keep your elbows up the entire time you’re doing this exercise. Get into your squat stance and keep your chest up. Squat between your legs while keeping a straight spine. Pause when you have reached your preferred squat depth and drive through your feet and stand up straight. Reset and repeat for reps.

Wrapping Up

There you have it. These six squat variations will improve your strength, mobility and muscle without the need to go near a barbell. And if you do the work, you’ll look great in your favorite pair of pants and the scale will be your friend.

Still confused on where to start. Click here for my strength program for those new to strength training.

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