Squat Variations: 51 Scientifically Proven Exercises for Growth 

Looking for a few squat variations but you haven’t managed to find one that fits your routine or goals? You’re not alone. 

Despite there being almost endless squat variations, most people only recommend one or two other variations apart from the traditional squat, leaving those out who have specific requirements or just want something different.  

Let’s jump right into it and take a look at 51 scientifically proven squat variations for growth.  

How to Do Squats 

Before diving into the various squat variations, let’s cover the basics of how to perform a standard squat: 

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing slightly outward. 
  1. Keep your chest lifted, shoulders back, and core engaged. 
  1. Begin the movement by pushing your hips back and bending your knees to lower your body down. 
  1. Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground or slightly below, keeping your knees in line with your toes. 
  1. Press through your heels to return to the starting position, fully extending your hips and knees. 

The Benefits of Doing Squats for Your Workouts 

Squats are a powerhouse exercise that targets multiple muscle groups and offers numerous benefits.  

It doesn’t matter if you try 10 different kinds of squats or even 20 different types of squats, most squats share many of the same benefits. Here are some of the main ones:  

  • Strengthens and tones the lower body, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. 
  • Engages the core muscles, promoting stability and balance. 
  • Supports functional movement patterns, making everyday activities easier. 
  • Boosts overall lower body power and explosiveness. 
  • Increases bone density, promoting stronger bones and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. 
  • Helps burn calories and fat, contributing to weight loss and improved body composition. 
  • Enhances flexibility and joint mobility, promoting better overall movement. 
  • Provides a solid foundation for other exercises and athletic performance. 

Bodyweight Squats 

1. Basic squat 

The standard bodyweight squat as described above. 

2. Wall squat 

Place your back up against a wall and squat down, holding as long as possible.  

3. Prisoner squat 

Place your hands behind your head while squatting, engaging your core. 

4. Side squat 

Step to the side during each squat, engaging your inner and outer thighs. 

5. Pistol squat 

Perform a one-legged squat, challenging your balance and strength. 

6. Single-leg squat 

Extend one leg forward while squatting on the other leg, targeting stability. 

7. Plié squat 

Take a wider stance with toes pointing outward, emphasizing the inner thighs.

8. Plié squat with foot drag 

Add a foot drag as you return to the starting position, increasing difficulty. 

9. Squat with knee drive 

Lift one knee toward your chest after each squat, engaging the core. 

10. Side-kick squat 

Perform a side kick while squatting, targeting the outer thighs and glutes. 

11. Split squat 

Step one foot back into a lunge position, performing squats on each leg. 

12. Close-stance squat 

Bring your feet together for a narrower squat, emphasizing the quads. 

13. Lateral squat walk 

Take small steps sideways while squatting, engaging the glutes and hips. 

14. Curtsy squat 

Cross one leg behind the other in a curtsy-like motion during each squat. 

15. Squat walk 

Perform squats while walking forward or backward, challenging stability. 

16. Frog squats 

Start with a wide stance and toes pointing out, pulsing at the bottom of the squat. 

17. Squat pulse 

Stay in the low squat position and pulse up and down for an isometric burn. 

18. Squat jacks 

Combine squat jumps with jumping jacks for a dynamic cardio workout. 

19. Squat with kickback 

Kick one leg back after each squat to activate the glutes. 

Weighted Squats 

20. Overhead squat 

Hold a weight overhead while squatting, engaging the shoulders and core. 

21. Landmine squat 

Use a landmine attachment for added resistance during squats. 

22. Barbell back squats 

Place a barbell across your shoulders and perform traditional squats. 

23. Dumbbell squat 

Hold dumbbells in each hand during squats for added resistance. 

24. Front squat 

Rest a barbell on the front of your shoulders, emphasizing the quads. 

25. Goblet squat 

Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell close to your chest during squats. 

26. Zercher squat 

Hold a barbell in the crook of your elbows, challenging the core. 

27. Bulgarian split squat 

Rest one foot on a bench or elevated surface while performing squats on the other leg. 

Plyometric Squats 

28. Jump squat 

Perform explosive jumps from the squat position. 

29. Jump squat on toes 

Add a calf raise at the end of each jump squat for calf engagement. 

30. Weighted jump squat 

Hold weights during jump squats for increased resistance. 

31. Pop squat 

Jump wide and low into a squat, then jump up explosively. 

Squats Using Equipment 

32. Wall squat on yoga ball 

Place a yoga ball behind your back against the wall while squatting. 

33. Box or bench squat 

Use a box or bench to control squat depth and maintain proper form. 

34. Mini band squat 

Place resistance bands around your thighs to activate the glutes. 

35. Sissy squat 

Engage the quads by leaning backward during the squat. 

36. Resistance band squat 

Attach resistance bands to a fixed point for added resistance. 

37. TRX squat 

Perform squats while holding TRX straps for stability. 

38. TRX squat kick 

Add a leg kick at the bottom of each TRX squat. 

39. TRX squat jump 

Perform explosive squat jumps using TRX straps for suspension. 

40. TRX pistol squat 

Perform one-legged squats with the support of TRX straps. 

41. Smith machine squat 

Utilize a Smith machine for guided squats. 

42. Hack squat 

Use a hack squat machine for targeted leg work. 

43. Bosu squat 

Perform squats on a Bosu ball to challenge balance and stability. 

44. Reverse Bosu squat 

Stand on the flat side of the Bosu ball and squat. 

45. Box jump to squat 

 Jump onto a box or elevated surface, then immediately go into a squat. 

Barbell/Loaded Squats 

Back Squat 

The classic back squat is one of the most effective compound exercises for developing lower body strength and muscle mass. It involves placing a loaded barbell on your upper back and squatting down. 

Front Squat 

Front squats target the quads and core and involve placing a loaded barbell across the front of your shoulders and squatting down. 

Box Squat 

Box squats involve squatting down to a box or bench, pausing briefly, and then standing back up. They help improve squat depth and explosiveness. 

Hack Squat 

Hack squats can be done on a hack squat machine or using a barbell behind your legs. It focuses on the quads and glutes. 

Pause Squat 

During pause squats, you hold the bottom position of the squat for a few seconds before returning to the starting position. It helps build strength out of the hole. 

Tempo Squat 

Tempo squats involve controlling the speed of the squat movement, such as lowering for 3 seconds and then exploding up. 

The Bottom Line 

With these 51 scientifically proven squat exercises, you have a wide range of options to challenge yourself and achieve significant lower body growth.  

Incorporate these variations into your workout routine and experience the incredible benefits of squats for overall strength and fitness.  

Remember to start with proper form, progress gradually, and always listen to your body to avoid injury and maximize results. Happy squatting! 

Squat Variations – FAQs 

What Is The Best Squat Variation? 

The best squat variation is the traditional squat or other high-load squats. 

In general, squat exercises with weights far outperform squat exercises that do not use weight. 

What Are The Variations Of The Squat? 

The main variations of the squat are the low bar squat, high bar squat, front squat, goblet squat, hack squat, and paused squat.  

There are many different types of squats and their benefits vary depending on the specific variation.  

What Does The Spanish Squat Do? 

The Spanish squat allows people to perform a squat variation without hurting their knees. 

It is a great variation for those with knee pain. 

What Do Variations Of Squats Target? 

Almost all variations of squat target the glutes and quads, with different variations placing more of an emphasis on one or more of these muscles.  

The types of squats and muscles they work list is vast, but as a general rule of thumb, the leg muscles are the primary target.  

We hope at least one of the 51 squat variations we mentioned was a good fit for you. 

No matter your goals, preferences, or specific requirements, there is bound to be a squat variation on our list that is right for you.  

For more fitness help, head over to MovingForwards

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