25 Base Squat Variations To Change Up Your Workouts
Sometimes, I’ll squat heavy and really focus on maximal strength training.
Sometimes, I’ll go FAST and work on endurance and speed.
Sometimes, I’ll just focus on form and mobility.
I am going to show you 25 foundational squat variations you should always be using.
In fact, you should know ALL of these already…
But maybe if you’re like most women… there are a few you’ve forgotten about or a few you aren’t using anymore.
Let’s look at these 25 squat variations that are the foundation of a strong body!
#1 – Bodyweight Squat
When you’re doing bodyweight squats, play with your tempo.
Sometimes, go fast and rack up big numbers of total reps.
Sometimes, slow down and take 6 seconds going down… pause for 3 seconds… and 6 seconds going back up.
Most women forget to play with their tempo… so try that and let me know what you think.
#2 – Monkey Squat
I find a lot of my studio clients have trouble with this exercise. If you do… do more of it.
The best way to get more mobile is to spend more time in the tough positions.
Practice this and your squat will get much much much better.
Form tip… work to keep your spine straight. Don’t let it round.
#3 – Squat Pulses
This means you’ll start to feel a burn quickly and you need to keep that burn going as long as you can before you just can’t stand it anymore.
#4 – Narrow Squat
When I’m training, I tend to notice most women go too wide and hardly every experiment with a more narrow stance.
Try it out. Because our bodies are built differently, you might fin that a more narrow squat feels better. It might allow you more range of motion and a deep squat.
Maybe it won’t but I still think it’s good to do… so you give your body something to try and get use to.
#5 – Banded Squat
Just toss a band around your knees… or just above them… and push the band apart as you squat. Push HARD!
This will help you activate your abductor muscles and it will teach you grip the ground with your feet.
It creates space in your hips and helps you sit your hips down.
Play with tempo… play with holding at the bottom.
#6 – Sumo Squat
I love do to this with a heavy weight but it’s good with bodyweight too.
I actually think this is a good warm up exercise to get your hips loosened up and ready to do normal squats.
I suggest you rolling the inside of your thighs first and then doing some sumo squats.
#7 – Prisoner Squat
AND… when you get up from your knees… don’t hunch forward over your legs. Keep your torso tall.
I love this squat because it’s like doing a step up. It will hit your butt a little more than normal… and it also forces you to keep your core really tight.
It’s a good one!
#8 – Uneven Squat
I love doing uneven anything because the world is uneven. When you’re running trails… the ground is not perfect… when you need to jump during an athletic event… you jump on uneven ground.
So do more uneven training and these squats are great.
What I like about them is the leg that’s raise will get a deeper squat. So it’s also a great way to get some mobility training too.
#9 – Wall Squat or Roman Chair
This is a pure isometric move and here’s why I love it.
It let’s you practice feeling your feet in the ground. Focus on feeling the entire ground with your whole foot.
And then slightly twist your feet into the ground so your leg muscles are turned on from your feet all the way up to your gluteus medius.
Keep your core tight and practice holding as long as you can. The longer you practice the stronger your normal squat will get.
#10 – Wall Facing Squat
Even though my picture shows me not using a weight… I suggest you use a light weight to help create some counter balance.
As you squat down, you have to open your knees and hips to create space for your hips to drop down into.
Try not to rotate your feet out too much.
This one is about hip range of motion and practice. If you keep at it… you will get better and your squats will improve drastically.
#11 – Squat Jax
This is one you don’t use a weight… so you just jack the rep counts up high and burn your legs out.
I will typically do 40 all the way to 80 sometimes depending on the goal of the the workout.
I love using these in Fit Women’s Weekly workouts.
#12 – Squat Jumps
And most women are way to tight, so jumping typically causes more problems.
But if you know how to jump and land… squat jumps are a great plyometric exercise.
Plyometric exercises are all about speed of muscle contraction and power. This is a great way to build strength.
Form tip… when you jump, reach your arms up in the air… not behind you. I catch myself doing this sometimes too.
#13 – Twister Squat
I like twist squats just as a way to spice up normal squat jumps. They do require a little more join stability and coordination which is a good thing.
Just don’t get dizzy!
#14 – Forward Jumping Squat
Form tip… make sure when you land, you land right into the next squat. So you don’t land hard on your joints… soft.
This is a great plyometric exercise and when you start racking up higher reps of these… you’ll feel it.
You can also just do this but make it a full burpee for a full body blast you won’t forget.
#15 – Split Squat
I love these because they do simulate a more balance single leg squat and that’s great. There’s no better way to get stronger legs that focus on one leg at time.
As you get stronger, you can move to pistol squat or scorpion squats… things like these.
#16 – Pistol Squat
Think about that for a minute… one leg has to lift well over 100 pounds. In theory if you can do this… then with two legs there should be no reason you can’t load a barbell up with over 200 pounds and complete a squat.
Notice I’m holding onto my foot. This is because pistol squats do take mobility and I lack the mobility to do this without holding onto my foot. It’s something I am working on.
#17 – Scorpion Squat
A scorpion squat makes it easier to stay over your foot like you should in a pistol squat and for that reason these are pretty tough.
In picture number 2… I am not over my foot enough. If you were to see me get up from this position… I’d have to lean over my foot.
So remember, you want to stay over the foot your using without getting up on your toes.
#18 – Dumbbell Squat
There is nothing that will hold you back no matter the equipment you have.
Click here to learn more about how to hold a dumbbell during a squat or other exercises.
#19 – Goblet Squat
You can do it with a kettlebell or dumbbell (like in this blog post about different ways to hold a dumbbell.)
It’s a great way to learn how to squat properly because the weight forces your body to stay upright… and it compensates for a lack of mobility in your hips… helping you sit your hips down.
But it still takes practice.
Just like the bodyweight squat… play with tempo and different weights too.
#20 – Suitcase Squat
But the purpose of this is to create an offset of weight forcing your body to brace and balance.
This can be a great way to train for imbalance. Let’s say you carry a bag for your job all day on one side.
You can train your other side by doing farmers carry’s and suitcase squats.
Let’s say you have a baby you tend to carry all on one side.
You can train your other side with rack carry’s or suitcase squats.
Imbalance training is very functional.
#21 – Racked Squat
The big difference with a racked squat… which you can use a dumbbell for too… is…
One it’s a little easier to squat because the weight doesn’t get in the way of your legs.
Two it works your shoulder muscles (rotator cuff muscles) a lot… which I love.
I think getting a strong rack position is huge and will help you in so many other area of strength and endurance.
#22 – Front Barbell Squat
One form tip… make sure you keep your entire hand on the bar. You don’t want to only put two or three fingers on the bar. This will require some mobility work in your lats, triceps, and even your rotator cuff muscles.
With the font squat, you’re able to keep your toros much taller compared to a back squat.
Keep your elbows high and your core tight.
I think this is one of the best squat variations for total body strength.
#23 – Back Squat
One quick form tip… make sure you squeeze your shoulder blades together and get your elbows pointing back… NOT straight down.
I love to do these using a box and actually sit on the box and then stand up.
Also bracing is key with back squatting. Correct bracing will help you from tilting your hips down… it will help with keep your toros tall… and it helps prevent back pain.
An in-depth post on the back squat is here.
#24 – Squat Thrusters
The key is to use your legs and transfer the energy all the way up as you push the weight over your head.
So it’s not two distinct moves… it’s one move from squat all the way up.
This will where you out fast and that’s why they are so good!
#25 – Overhead Barbell Squat
However you can build to this.
The way I’m showing this here is a great way to test your mobility and make sure you’re keeping good form while practicing this squat.
Start by sitting on a box with the bar behind you.
Press it up and brace your body.
Then stand up… and see if you can sit back down too.
This squat is great because it requires total body control.
This is why you should join Fit Women’s Weekly
The best part is all of the workouts in Fit Women’s Weekly are filmed so you can workout with me when you want to test your abilities.
It’s going to be tough… intense… and push you to the limits.
But these are the reasons why if you stay the course, you’ll get results.
One of the really cool things about Fit Women’s Weekly is you can purchase a program or you can join monthly.
I think both options are great, just make sure you only go through one program at a time.
It will help a lot more.
So join up and let’s start using all of these squat variations in real workout situations.
Let’s get fit… strong… and unleash our inner badass!
In the pictures, I’m wearing Nike Pro HyperCool Glamour leggings. You can read my full leggings review here.