11 Weighted Squats Variations You Need to Add to Your Workout Routine

The all-powerful squat is a part of so many workouts for a reason—in fact, for many reasons. It's an important lower-body workout that interacts with a lot of muscles at once, including the glutes, core, and quads. You don't necessarily need any squatting equipment for simple squats - your body's weight and gravity can easily provide you with all the resistance you need. But you can add weights, to do squats with weights, and use specialised equipment including resistance bands to add a challenge and push yourself. 

What Are Weighted Squats?

A weighted squat is a full-body compound exercise that targets all the muscles. Basically, it is just sitting down on an invisible sturdy elevated surface, like a chair, and then standing up, but with weights.

They don't even cost much. You can do them free of charge if you have weights at home. Otherwise, you will need a gym membership. 

Weighted Squats You Should Try

Before we dive straight into all the weighted squat variations and how to squat with weights, just remember that this isn't an exhaustive list. There are so many more weighted squat variations out there, but these types are just some good options to get you started.

Also, do not try to perform these complex squats all at once. You'll be pretty dang sore if you even try to do all of them. The best way to incorporate these squats to your fitness routine can vary depending on your fitness goals.

Goblet Squat

What Is a Goblet Squat?

A goblet squat is a lower-body exercise identical to a barbell back squat, except you use either a dumbbell or a kettlebell as a resistance. The weight is held by hands in front of the body, and this exercise is very useful for understanding and enhancing body mechanics while squatting.

Goblet Squat Muscles Worked: Goblet squat benefits various muscles of the legs, including hamstrings, quads, and glutes.

How to Goblet Squat?

  • Use your legs to raise the kettlebell and try to maintain your goblet squat form by keeping your back straight.
  • Shift the kettlebell upside down and, grasp it with both hands or, hold it using its handles. You should keep it at the upper level of your chest right under your chin, and near your body, with your elbows pointing straight down.
  • Spread your legs slightly wider than the hip-width length apart and point your feet a bit outwards.
  • Hold your back straight and squat down to the ground, so your upper legs are parallel to the ground and keep your head straight ahead. Point your knees in the same direction in which your feet are pointed.
  • Now, get back to standing position. If you have dumbbells, then you can do the dumbbell goblet squat.

Equipment Required: Kettlebell or dumbbell.

goblet-squat

    Bulgarian Split Squat

    What Is a Bulgarian Split Squat?

    A Bulgarian split squat involves lifting the back foot to the top of a sturdy surface rather than planting it on the ground. It's a form of single-leg squat, and it varies from the traditional barbell squat in a way that it works one leg at a time and doesn't put a heavy weight on your shoulders.

    Bulgarian Split Squat Muscles Worked: Bulgarian split squat benefits muscles like hamstrings, glutes, and core.

    How to Do Bulgarian Split Squat?

    • Stand around 2 feet in front of a step (or something sturdy); stretch your right leg back and put the roof of your foot on the step. You can also hold a dumbbell in each hand to do a dumbbell Bulgarian split squat.
    • That is the starting position.
    • Bend your knees to lower down your body as far as possible or till the point your knee gently touches the floor, also keep your chest straight up, shoulders back, and hips in the forward direction.
    • Take a pause there, and then push through your left heel to get back to the starting position while maintaining the correct Bulgarian split squat form.
    • That makes one repetition.

    Equipment Required: A sturdy chair or a bench, and dumbbells or kettlebells (for a challenge)

    bulgarian-split-squat

    Hack Squat

    What Is a Hack Squat?

    Hack Squat is a common exercise done by many weightlifters for the development of the lower body. It is done on a sledge that lets you squat at a 45-degree angle. The three major muscle classes that it mostly targets are quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. You can find the machine in most fitness centres, so you can easily learn how to use the hack squat machine.

    Hack Squat Muscles Worked: Hack squat benefits the whole lower body, including muscles like quads, glutes, calves, hamstrings, and the core.

    How to Do a Hack Squat?

    • Load the hack squat machine with your required amount of weight. If you are a beginner, it is better for you to get acquainted with the way the machine works before you add a bunch of plates.
    • Get into the hack squat machine, position your feet at shoulder-width apart, and your back and shoulders against the pads.
    • Release the safety handles, breathe in, and lower yourself down, while bending the knees to a 90-degree angle.
    • Take a pause here, then drive through the back of your feet to stretch your legs back to the starting place.

    Equipment Required: Hack squat machine (available at gyms), and barbells (for barbell hack squat).

    hack-squat

    Barbell Squat

    What Is a Barbell Squat?

    The barbell squat is a compound movement that focuses on building lower-body muscle groups. It's a classic way to begin a leg day, and it's a worthy cornerstone for a lower-body training course. With a barbell racked on the traps or your upper back, the focus is directed to the posterior chain, but the entire body gets the attention. The barbell squat can be performed from heavy singles to sets of 20 reps or more.

    Muscles Worked: Barbell back squats work the quadriceps, core, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus.

    How to Do Barbell Squat?

    • Pick up a barbell inside a squat rack with your hands a little wider than your shoulder-width apart.
    • Duck under the bar and press your upper back into it.
    • Try squeezing the shoulder blades to build a muscular "shelf" for the bar to sit on.
    • Stand up tall, unrack your barbell, and then step back. Position your feet a little wider than the shoulder-width apart and tilt your toes 20-30 degrees.
    • Now, push your hips to the back and bend your knees down into a barbell back squat, turning your knees slightly to the sides.
    • Drive through your heels, now, in order to stand up and also squeeze your glutes at the top for one repetition.

    Equipment Required: You will need a squat rack, a barbell, some weights, and barbell collars.

    barbell-squat

    Front Squat

    What Is a Front Squat?

    A front squat or a barbell front squat is a compound workout used by experienced exercisers to work on their lower body. The workout exerts less pressure on the spine than the conventional squat where the barbell is positioned on the upper back. Shifting weight to the front of the body often transfers more strain to the gluteal muscles and quadriceps, and away from the hamstrings.

    Front Squats vs Back Squats

    When it comes to the difference between front squats vs back squats, they both target different muscles. Front squats target the upper back and the quads and upper back, and the back squats work the glutes, lower back, and the hips.

    Barbell Front Squat Muscles Worked: Why front squat? Because it maintains the right front squat form and targets the lower back, lats, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and core.

    How to Front Squat?

    • Stand right below the barbell within the squat rack, keep your feet parallel, so that the bar sits on your collarbone and softly pushes against your throat.
    • Hold the bar with your hands slightly wider than your shoulder-width apart, and your elbows forward and your palms up. Hold it properly for a good front squat grip.
    • Stand up tall, unravel the barbell, and then step back. Position your legs slightly wider than the shoulder-width apart and tilt your toes 20-30 degrees.
    • Push your hips to the back and bend the knees down to the squat position, while turning your knees slightly to the sides. Hold your chest straight and tight.
    • Drive through your heels to stand up from the squat and squeeze your glutes at the top for one repetition.

    If you want to get a firmer grip on the barbell, then you should know how to front squat with straps. Keep in mind, though, that straps can become more difficult to use as you increase the weight.

    Equipment Required: You will need barbells, weight plates, and a squat stand.

    front-squat-illustration

    Zercher Squat

    What Is a Zercher Squat?

    The Zercher squat is a barbell workout in which the bar is positioned in the crease of your elbows as you do a regular squat. This exercise may feel uncomfortable at first, but it is incredibly successful in building both strength and size.

    So, when you do Zercher squat, wear a long-sleeved shirt and protect your elbows with neoprene supports. Zercher squats allow optimal alignment of your shoulders and the body with the Zercher squat harness sitting on your shoulders and holding the weight in its place.

    Zercher Squat Benefits: Zercher squat targets the quads, hamstrings, core, lower back, and glutes.

    How to Zercher Squat?

    • Position the rack just below your elbow.
    • Place it in the crease of the elbows.
    • Hold your elbows close to your sides.
    • Squeeze your hands together or make your palms face the ceiling.
    • Get your hips under the bar, take a big belly breath and squat the bar up from the rack.
    • Take a few steps back, set the bar, and if you can, take more air.
    • Squat down until your elbows meet your thighs or slip between them.
    • Get up and, repeat.

    Equipment Required: Barbell.

    zercher-squat-illustration

    Dumbbell Squat

    What Is a Dumbbell Squat?

    The dumbbell squat is a traditional lower-body workout targeted towards quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. Although this exercise is typically done with relatively light weights like dumbbells for high repetitions, it can also be used, as a replacement for trap-bar deadlifts in any workout routine.

    Benefits of Dumbbell Squats: Dumbbell squats target the quadriceps, hamstrings, core, and gluteus maximus.

    How to Do a Dumbbell Squat?

    • Stand with the legs slightly wider than compared to the hip-width apart, the toes a bit turned outward, a dumbbell in each hand on the peaks of your shoulders, with your palms inward.
    • Start working on (engaging) your core and keep your chest straight up and back flat while you move your weight to your heels, push your hips to the back, and bend your knees to lower into the position of a squat.
    • Drive through the heels of your feet to stand back up, and squeeze your glutes at the top for one repetition. You can also try doing dumbbell squat clean or a dumbbell squat press.

    Equipment Required: A pair of dumbbells.

    dumbell-squat-illustration

    Overhead Squat

    What Is an Overhead Squat?

    The overhead squat is a tricky exercise and is very difficult to perform, but it is worth perfecting. Overhead squat emphasises the midpoint of the barbell snatch and is important for learning the particular lift. In the case of non-competitive weightlifters, it can be an efficient way to strengthen the lower body while improving balance and overhead squat mobility.

    Before you get into squats, you can get an overhead squat assessment done to get a good estimate of your dynamic posture.

    Squat to Overhead Press Muscles Worked: Overhead squats work each and every muscle in the body and, as a result, increase muscular control, mobility, and balance.

    How to Overhead Squat?

    • Stand apart with your feet shoulder-width apart and a barbell on the ground, positioned in front of you.
    • Bend your knees and grasp the barbell with your palms facing you and your hands at a wider distance than your shoulder-width from each other.
    • Bring the barbell to your chest and overhead. The bar should be placed slightly behind your head, and your arms should be completely extended. This is your starting position.
    • Now gradually lower the weight by bending your knees until your thighs get parallel to the floor.
    • Return the weight back up to your starting position with your feet and legs.
    • Repeat for required reps.

    Equipment Required: Plate weights and a barbell. You can also use weightlifting belts for all the squats involving barbells if the weight is way too heavy.

    overhead-squat-illustration

    Dumbbell Thruster

    What Is a Dumbbell Thruster?

    The dumbbell thruster is a complex workout that incorporates the squat with the shoulder press. This is a very comprehensive and flexible workout that strengthens your body and boosts your aerobic health, endurance, and stamina.

    Dumbbell Thruster Muscles Worked: This exercise works the trapezius, quadriceps, gluteus maximus, triceps, core, hamstrings, and deltoids.

    How to Do It?

    • Stand with your legs a little wider than your hip-width apart, the toes lightly bent out, a (dumbbell) weight in each hand on the peaks of your shoulders, and your palms facing in.
    • Begin with engaging your core and keep your chest straight up and back flat while you move your weight to your heels, now push your hips to the back, and bend your knees to lower your body in a squatting position.
    • Drive through your heels to stand up from the squat and squeeze your glutes to the top. Press the dumbbells overhead as you stand, straighten your elbows fully. Keep your core active and your hips tucked under to prevent the arching of your lower back.
    • Gradually lower the weights back to the shoulders for one repetition.

    Equipment Required: Dumbbells.

    dumbell-thruster-illustration

    Landmine Squat

    What Is a Landmine Squat?

    A landmine squat is one of the best muscle-building exercises you can perform. Not only does it target your posterior chain, but also helps activate muscle building hormones because it is a compound exercise. Doing squats with a landmine is perfect for targeting the quads. It's also a great opportunity to refine your shape because you don't have a loaded bar placed on your shoulders.

    Landmine Squats Muscles Used: It mainly targets the upper back muscles, the quads, core, and glutes.

    How to Do the Landmine Squat?

    • Stand with your legs at a distance of shoulder-width apart.
    • Hold the barbell in your hands at the height of your chest. You can steady the weight by interlacing your both hands over the bar.
    • Hold the weight at your chest and squat while pushing your hips to the back and bending your knees.
    • Pause a second until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
    • Hold the weight on your chest, and force yourself back up by stretching your knees and pushing your hips forward.
    • That makes one repetition.

    You can also use the landmine squat attachment to perform the landmine hack squat. Landmine can be used to do a lot of other exercises like landmine squat press and landmine belt press.

    Equipment Required: A landmine post, some weight plates, a straight barbell, and a landmine handle attachment.

    landmine-squat-illustration

    Smith Machine Squat

    What Is a Smith Machine Squat?

    Smith machine squat is a popular variant of the squat. It is used to develop the leg muscles. Specifically, the smith machine squat can really work the quads.

    Using a smith machine would ensure that the bar path stays in a fixed position, removing any need to stabilise throughout the exercise. You can incorporate a smith machine squat in your full body or leg workouts.

    Smith Machine Squats Muscles Worked: The smith machine squat works the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and the gastrocnemius (calves).

    How to Do Smith Machine Squat?

    • Place yourself on a smith machine in a way that the barbell is behind your shoulders and just under your neck.
    • Hold your feet and legs shoulder-width apart and direct your toes slightly outwards.
    • Hold the barbell with your palms facing forward and your hands wider than your shoulder-width apart.
    • Lift the barbell to a standing position, and keep your knees slightly bent. This is the starting position.
    • Breathe in as you slowly lower the barbell by taking the squat position.
    • When your thighs get parallel to the floor, breathe out, and push yourself off using your legs to reverse the movement and return to your starting point.
    • Repeat this movement to complete a set.

    Equipment Required: Smith machine.

    smith-machine-squat-illustration

    Tips for Squatting With Weights

    Follow the following tips and guidelines for doing your weighted squats with the best form and successfully achieve your desired level of fitness:

    1. If you have never done weighted exercises, it is better to start with bodyweight squats, and then gradually level up to weighted squats.
    2. If you just want to shed some pounds and get strong, any variation of the squat will get the work done for you.
    3. Take care of your safety by maintaining a proper form while squatting. Start with keeping your knees in line with your toes.
    4. Hold your shoulders back, and keep a natural arch in your lower back. Keep your neck and head in a neutral position throughout the whole squat.
    5. Always keep the weight over your ankles and hold your heels' position on the ground throughout the exercise.
    6. Always remember to push your hips back instead of pushing your knees forward.

    Wrapping It Up

    Whether you hate them or love them, weighted squats work. They are one of the best exercises for lower body. Being a multi-joint, compound exercise, a squat works your core, legs, and glutes. You can easily start with basic squats and then advance to the realm of weighted squats. So what are you waiting for? It is about time to drop it low!

    If you want to perfect your basic squat before you start weighted squats, as you should, we have the perfect guide for you. How To Squat Properly? Squat Tips And Benefits

    Images source: Shutterstock