Last week, I introduced you all to my favorite movement of all time... the Squat! Whether your goal is fat loss, strength, speed, or just acquiring a nice set of legs, the squat will get you there. Today we'll explore a few more advanced variations of the squat pattern that you're sure to love.
While the Goblet Squat and Double-KB Rack Squat are fantastic, they're truly best suited for beginners. I advise everyone I coach to start with these two variations, but our ultimate goal should be to move on to variations that allow for more load and better gains. That is where these next two variations come into play. They're the" bread and butter" squat variations for strength gains and will make you look like a total badass once you get proficient at them.
The Back Squat
The back squat is probably the most well-known squat variation out there. It's one of the three competitive lifts used in powerlifting and it happens to be my current favorite variation. The bar is supported on the back of the lifter's shoulders, where the lifter has drawn their shoulder blades back and created a shelf for the load to rest upon. You then simply hinge back and squat down, attempting to keep the bar path as straight as possible on the way up and down.
Unfortunately for the youth athletes of today, the back squat typically is one of the first lifts that a high school athlete will be introduced to in their weight room. This is fine if the athlete is a competent squatter and can utilize proper form, but, in my experience, this simply isn't the case for a bunch of 14/15 year olds who've never undergone a proper strength and conditioning program. This is why we use the golbet squat as a introduction to the squatting pattern. Once we have a proficient, and strong, goblet squatter, we can move onto these more advanced variations.
The Front Squat
Another absolutely awesome squat variation, the bar rests on the front of the shoulders in the front squat. The load placement allows the lifter to maintain a more upright torso during the movement, which may be better for individuals who have trouble keeping a neutral lumbar spine during a back squat or for those who suffer from low back pain.
Due to the fact that the lifter maintains a more upright torso in this variation, the posterior chain (glute, hammys, spinal erectors) are emphasized less than in a traditional back squat. The front squat, therefore, tends to be more universally accepted as a more quad-dominant squatting variation.
These truly are two fantastic squat variations. The use of the barbell allows for considerably heavier loading, which will come in handy when the athlete begins double-kb front squatting with two 53 pound kettlebells. That's a lot of load to get into the proper position and to maintain proper upper body positioning with.
Last week I provided you with a simple linear progression scheme that you can apply to your training. This week I'm going to continue my streak of giving by providing you with a few tips regarding the set-up in the back squat. See the video below!