Squat Variations

For the last article on this topic, I’m going to cover different types of squats and rank them by hierarchy of difficulty. First, I’m going to cover some universal rules which were mentioned in a previous article, but here they are again.

Feet engaged and grabbing the floor, think of a monkey’s foot grabbing a tree branch
Knees and toes pointed in the exact same direction at all times, straight forward or just slightly turned out
Hips must get lower than knees, femur beyond parallel to floor
Trunk (core) is engaged and braced to some degree
Head is neutral, not looking up or down

Now, let’s talk about the different types of squats. There are a lot of versions, I’m just going to cover the most common ones with a few extras that can be done in nearly every gym/home gym.

Barbell Back Squat – High bar & Low bar
Front Squat
Overhead Squat
Goblet Squat
Zercher Squat
Box Squat
Single Leg Squat
Bodyweight Squat
Assisted Squat

Ok, so we’ve got a decent list of squat variations. If you rotated these on a somewhat regular basis, you’ll probably never get bored with doing squats. They all have their own unique pieces to doing then well, but for the most part those universal rules apply to them all. Now, let’s rank that list from LEAST difficult to MOST difficult.

Assisted Squat – hands on a suspension trainer, bar, or countertop to help
Bodyweight Squat – no more than just you
Goblet Squat – typically lighter weight held at the chest
Box Squat – great way to learn Range of Motion, can be weighted or unweighted
Single Leg Squat – with or without weight, can be to a box
Zercher Squat – not difficult to learn, but a weird way of adding resistance
High Bar Back Squat – the most common and well known squat version
Front Squat – requires more mobility, can be uncomfortable
Low Bar Back Squat – more of a powerlifting style, can be the heaviest generally
Overhead Squat – requires the most mobility, but can also be done heavy

There you have the hierarchy based on skill and mobility requirements. As far as ability to lift the most weight, any barbell version has a greater potential than not. That’s obvious. However, let’s rank the barbell squat versions by most weight capable of lifting. We’ll go lightest to heaviest.

Overhead Squat – shoulder strength is the limiting factor
Front Squat – thoracic (upper back) strength limiting factor
High Bar Back Squat – bar is placed across the shoulders like you normally see
Low Bar Back Squat – bar is put as low on the shoulders/upper back as possible

So there it is folks! There are plenty of versions of squats, ranked by easiest to hardest as far as technique and also by lightest to heaviest barbell applications. If you don’t know what some of these are, or how to do them, you can always reach out to us to find out more about our coaching and how we educate and train people on these. Or simply go to YouTube, but that’s not always the best idea.

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