What Is A Squat Exercise – Muscle Mass, Core Strenght, and Weight Loss

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What is a squat exercise? The squat movement is considered to be among the best exercises for legs. They are also incredible for increasing strength, power, and building muscle.

Most fitness trainers feel that squats are mandatory for an effective workout and are a critical part of any complete training program.
Squats can be done using just bodyweight, a barbell and rack, or even with dumbells. There are many different forms and variations on how a squat can be performed, but all are beneficial to increasing performance.

We will be discussing everything you will need to know about this fantastic exercise making you a squat expert.

What Is A Squat Exercise

The basic “squat” movement is relatively simple and consists of just bending your knees while lowing the hips into a sitting position and then standing back up. Just spread out your feet and bend your knees while keeping your head up and your back straight.

Most trainers recommend going low enough to where the thighs are parallel with the floor. Going much further than that will put unnecessary stress on your knees. Squat exercises can be done with a barbell on your shoulders, holding a set of dumbbells, or simply squatting using your own bodyweight.

Besides these methods, there are countless other names and ways that can be learned to build strength, leg size, stability, and overall performance. Squats are extremely important for many reasons, and they are versatile enough to strengthen almost every body part along with it.

In fact, the weightlifting trifecta of the most effective exercises for power is considered to be squats, deadlifts, and bench press, in that order.

However, this can be the most dangerous exercise you can do, so please pay attention to any of the warnings that we will go over.

I’ll be discussing proper technique to avoid injury as well as ways to get the best results from your squat routine.

what is a squat exercise - man doing squat

Proper Squat Form

This is the most important goal for doing a correct squat, proper form. This is key for avoiding injury, so be sure to use proper posture. Start by standing up tall, with your shoulders back.

As you are lowering your body by bending your knees, drive your hips back, and be sure to keep your back straight throughout the entire movement. Do not slouch or let your shoulders come forward at any time. Also, keep your center of gravity under your heels at all times.

It’s important to stay in control during the entire squat movement. Don’t lower yourself too fast or lose balance. Concentrate on what you are doing, and only go as deep as it feels comfortable for you.

At the bottom of the movement (in the squat position), use exert plenty of force to power your thighs as you straighten your legs into the finish standing position. That’s one, so after this, repeat the same movement.

Number of Squat Repetitions

When using only bodyweight or very light poundage, it’s recommended to perform a higher amount of repetitions. Anywhere between 15 and 50.

For the average weightlifter with moderate barbell or dumbbell weight, it’s recommended to perform between 8-12 repetitions.

When powerlifting or “maxing out” (maximum weight), you will reduce your number of repetitions to just a few.

what is a squat exercise - Woman doing squats while smiling

Legs and Feet Position

For beginners, the easiest and safest way is to begin with your feet shoulder width and feet direction facing slightly outward. This will help to stay balanced.

During the course of your squat do not lean forward, or use the balls of your feet for balance.

At the bottom of the squat position, most trainers recommend squatting low enough to where your thighs are parallel with the floor. This means that the legs are at a 90-degree angle like you’re sitting in a chair.

However, if you have any kind of knee issues, going this low can cause more harm than good. It is perfectly fine to only go as low as what feels comfortable for you.

Squats Exercise Benefits

Doing squats translates into better performance in every other physical activity that you do. We are talking about real power here, not just muscle made for looks. Squats come with numerous benefits for anyone, a squat routine for men or women is recommended.

Here are a few of the most recognized squat benefits.

  • Strengthen the lower body, core, and legs
  • Fights physical aging
  • Better performance, speed, and power in other sports
  • Gives better balance and posture
  • Make that booty round!
  • Provides more stability and balance
  • Improves functional strength (ex: moving furniture)
  • A strong lower body is attractive
  • Squats are known to boost Testosterone in men
  • Works the largest muscle group in the body-legs
  • Decreases risk of injury in daily activities
  • Great calorie burner
  • Increases lean body mass

Types of Squat Exercises

All exercise routines for squats are based on the same type of movement. However, depending on the kinds of squat exercise variation that you do will affect which leg muscles are targeted. Using different squat angles and movements result in a better rounded leg muscle shape.

Standard Barbell Back Squat

This is the most popular kind of squat exercise that can be seen the most using a squat rack. A barbell squat is just like the squat directions described above with the feet about shoulder width or a little more apart.

Set the squat rack hooks and barbell about shoulder height. Bend your knees slightly to get under the bar so it is across the top of your back, but not up on your neck.

There should be a spot in your upper back that feels natural to you. Now lift the bar off of the rack and start your squats. Start out with an easy to manage amount of weight, and be sure to keep the proper form that we talked about.

what is a squat exercise - woman doing front squats

Front Squat

Front squats are done with a barbell and performed a lot like the standard squat exercise above, but the barbell instead is in front of you.

Start by positioning the bar on the rack a little lower than shoulder height. Get under the front of the bar and you basically use the shoulders to lift the barbell up.

The bar rests on the front of the shoulders, and there are two different ways most people position their hands. Eighter grab the bar like the beginning of a shoulder press position and raise the elbows up. Another method is to cross your arms in front of the bar and bring the elbows up into the air.

Either way, This is a more difficult movement, so less weight should be used. The front squat position concentrates more on the muscles on the front of your thighs and is a very effective muscle-building exercise.

Dumbbell Squats

This is pretty much the same as the barbell squat, but you don’t need a squat or power rack in this case. Instead, you will hold a set of dumbbells throughout the movement. Once again, on this one, it’s still important to keep your back upright and shoulders back.

Dumbbell squats are a great alternative for a home gym exercise if you only have a dumbbell set in your to work with in your exercise room.

what is a squat exercise - man doing goblet squat

Goblet Squats

Similar to dumbbell squats, this is another popular squat variation. Start by holding the end of one dumbbell like a goblet with both hands and bring it up near your chin. Proceed with a regular squat.

This similar style can be seen with kettlebell squats. The kettlebell is positioned with palms up near the chin similar to the goblet.

Split Squats

This squat thrust exercise is another more challenging version of a squat. It’s more like a lunge than it is a squat. Start out like you are doing the standard barbell squat, but with much less weight.

Take a big step forward (or lunge) while bending both the back leg knee and the front knee. The front knee should go down to near a 90-degree angle and the back knee almost touching the ground. If you have any knee issues, just go halfway for starters.

A Bulgarian Split Squat is very similar, but the rear foot is positioned with the top of the foot resting on a bench or plyo box. I recommend doing the Bulgarian version while using a set of dumbbells or no weight at all.

Resistance Band Squats

This may be the least expensive way to a great squat workout at home using resistance. Exercise resistance bands are some of the best exercise equipment for a home gym. These bands are incredibly inexpensive and can provide an entire full-body workout with just a few sizes.

Depending on the amount of band resistance (bands usually come in 10lb of resistance increments), there are different ways to use them for squats. Try standing on the middle of the band and bring the handles up to your shoulders like you are in a shoulder press stance. Then do your squats like this. These should provide enough resistance to make your body squats more challenging.

Overhead Squats

I’m going to throw in this advanced squat technique just for fun (not really fun). It’s very difficult in the beginning, so using the bar only at first would be a smart idea. Keeping your back straight throughout this movement is extremely important.

Take the barbell off of the squat rack hooks and press it over your head using a wide grip. Then, try doing a regular squat with the arms locked, holding the bar above the head the entire time.

This exercise is very beneficial because it’s so much of a full-body movement. It includes using the back and shoulders at the same time as well as the core and legs.

Body Weight Squat Workouts

what is a squat exercise - woman doing bodyweight exercise

This is one of the best body weight workout routines to do at home. It’s just doing a series of regular squats without adding weight. Since bodyweight squats are easier, doing a higher amount of repetitions is recommended, like 20-50.

Switch it up a bit with jump squats or split squat jumps. Jumping squats start from a squatting position. While swinging your arms back for extra momentum, jump as high as you can using all of your leg strength.
Try to land gently to reduce stress on the knees. Because squat jump exercise is such an explosive exercise, it’s very beneficial for the thighs and glutes.
For an even more challenging bodyweight squat exercise, try single-leg squats. If you are at home, grab a door jab and squat down with just one leg. Then, use your arms on the door jam to help assist you on the way up. This is a difficult leg exercise, but the payoff is high.

Leg Lunges

This is a close relative to the squat exercise movement, except most leg lunges work just one leg at a time, making these great muscle isolation exercises. Isolation exercises are more difficult but they will build muscle and strength faster.

Squat Racks for the Home Gym- woman doing squats

There are tons of different types of lunges, so I’m not going to go into all of them. But, I would encourage you to try some of these in your leg workout routine for increased strength, more power, and bigger muscle growth results.

  • Walking Lunge
  • Bulgarian Split Squats
  • Dumbbell Step-Up
  • Split Squat Lunges
  • Side Lunges
  • Reverse Lunges
  • Lunge Jump
  • Goblet Lunge
  • TRX Lunge
  • Lateral Lunges

What Is A Squat Exercise Wrap Up

A squat exercise entails simply bending at the knees to lower the hips, then pushing with your legs back up to the standing position. The squat movement comes with many advantages and is a very versatile exercise, with many different techniques and methods they can be performed.

Squats can be done as a bodyweight exercise or using weights. The more resistance or pushing in a dynamic and explosive manner bring bigger benefits to exercise programs.

Practicing squats on a regular basis will improve your overall performance in other sports. Squat workouts will also increase muscle mass, strengthen core muscles, improve functional strength, increase endurance, and burn calories.

If you have any questions or comments on what is a squatting exercise, please leave a message below and I will respond.

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Steve Hall

I've been training since I was a teenager and started this site to help others get the most out of their workouts. I look forward to sharing a ton of useful information about this awesome topic.

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