Squat exercises often serve as a way to build strength in multiple leg muscles at once. Using weighted resistance, the entire body faces a strenuous tension which ultimately increases all around muscle density.
Squat Exercises with the Bar
- The traditional squat targets strength building in the entire lower body plus the lower back and core. Spread the feet shoulder width apart while holding the loaded bar on the lower neck region. The bar will rest in this position during the entire squat, gaining extra balance through support from the shoulders. Squat by bending at the knees and extending the legs after reaching the parallel point; this position requires the buttocks to sit level with the knees.
- By adjusting the angle of the feet and the width of the stance, different regions of the quadriceps receive more intense muscle contraction. Experiment with several feet and width positions in order to gain better balance and a compound leg exercise.
- In the same position as the traditional squat, hold the weighted bar in front of the body with both hands. Rest the bar on the upper chest for added balance and support. Perform multiple repetitions in this position for improvement in both balance and leg strength.
- Another one of the most popular squat exercises with the weighted bar, the hack squat, requires most of the same steps in the traditional back squat. Place the weighted bar directly behind the feet and hold it with both hands, pressing the bar against the calves. Squat down past the parallel position with every repetition so that the bar nearly touches the ground.
- Perform traditional back squats, but jump on the way up. This exercise often requires lower weights in order to have safe and effective results.
- Place one foot on a stable device while facing the opposite direction of that resting leg. With the weighted bar secured against the lower neck, perform one legged squats for an isolated exercise. Use a manageable weight to ensure proper balance and technique. Each squat will still pass the parallel position for maximum results.
Dumbbell Squat Exercises
- While hold a dumbbell in each hand, let the arms fully extend so that each weight rests at the hip or midsection. Bend at the knees and squat past the parallel point for a traditional dumbbell squat which targets the quadriceps and hamstrings.
- Rather than resting the dumbbells at the sides, rest the weights on each shoulder while still holding on for stability. Perform squats or jumping squats with lower weight for a compound leg strengthening exercise.
- With the dumbbells resting at the sides, assume a lunging position with one foot extended in front of the other. While in the striding position, squat with the front leg for an isolated exercise that targets the muscles in each leg separately. Perform these squats in either the stationary position with one leg at a time, or stride with one leg and then the other over a distance. The eccentric muscle contraction caused by lunge squat exercises increase muscle endurance and strength.