So your squat doesn’t look like the pic in the magazine? Good news: you can still reap the butt-toning benefits! Just pick the variation that works for you.
Like the size of your thighs and the shape of your body, your squat may look a little different from someone else’s – but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with it. “Fitness professionals learn a textbook definition for a proper squat, which gets passed down to clients, but as you train more people, you realise that’s it’s unrealistic – rather impossible – for everyone’s squat form to look the same,” says physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning specialist Mike Reinold. Why? Because it’s a complex movement involving multiple muscle groups and joints working in different planes of motion. Anything from the alignment of your hips to the length of your legs in relation to your upper body could affect how your squat. Instead of trying to squeeze yourself into the ideal squat mould, use one of these variations to make this booty-sculpting move work for you.
1 Goblet Squat
Try it if: You have a long upper body.
Hold a weight – kettlebell, dumbbell or medicine ball – at chest height in both hands, keeping your elbows bent and tucked in. The weight forces you to shift your oen weight back to stop yourself from falling on your face. The result: You distribute the load more equally between the muscles in your butt and the back of your thighs and those in the front of your thighs and you lean forward excessively.
2 Sumo Squat
Try it if: Your hips are tight.
Stand with feet wide apart and toes turned out. Keep your back up and straight as you squat down. Separating your feet wider and turning your toes out helps isolate the posterior chain – the muscles running down the back your body – as well as your inner-thigh muscles. It also creates more room for your pelvis to dip lower.
3 Banded Squat
Try it if: Your knees collapse in.
Tie a theraband into a small loop or use a mini resistance band and step into it so that it’s about 10-15 centimetres above your knees. As you squat, make sure the band stays taught and doesn’t slip down. Resisting the band will keep your thighs more parallel as they fight the inward pull of the band.
4 Box Squat
Try it if: You have short legs or you’re afraid of toppling backwards.
Stand in front of a box or bench that’s about knee height. Squat down until your bum grazes the bench, then stand up again before you actually sit down. You’ll be able to squat deeper because you’re moving towards a goal. The bench also acts as a safety net, giving you more confidence to go lower.
5 Heel-Elevated Squat
Try it if: You have flat feet.
Grab a pair of weight plates and let your heels rest on them as you squat. The key to a good squat is to keep your weight in your heels, but if you lack an arch, your weight may shift forward. Lifting your heels onto the plates redistributes the weight back where it belongs.
Looking for more? Here are five workouts that burn more kilojoules than a spin class.
For more squat techniques and workouts check out our May issue.