How to Do a Perfect Squat (Plus, Squat Variations)

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The squat is probably the most mentally and physically demanding, yet rewarding exercise there is. There are close to 40 squat variations to choose from, each offering a new way to retrain your mind and body, while also building strong legs and a great butt. But before you get into the other 39 variations, you need to master the first squat. Follow along and learn how to do a perfect squat (plus, squat variations) to get the lower body you’ve been dreaming of.

For the body weight squat, you won’t need any equipment. As you progress into different squat variations though, you’ll need heavy dumbbells (20+ lbs) and a squat rack (found at the gym).

How to Do a Perfect Squat (Plus, Squat Variations)

How to Do a Perfect Squat (Plus, Squat Variations)

Below are five of my favorite squats. They’re sequenced based on how you should transition, from beginner to advanced. Read and reread each squat’s proper movement pattern and follow along with the videos to see the correct flow and movement. In all squat exercises be sure to keep your core tight. Your core helps with stability, so once you train yourself to do it weightless, you’ll innately do it when you increase resistance with weights as well.

All breathing for squats is the same, just as it is for any exercise. Exhale when you’re doing work and inhale when you’re not. For squats, you’re always going to exhale when you push up and inhale on your way down.

Body Weight Squat

The beginning of it all! Body weight squats are the perfect introduction to getting your body used to the motion of a squat. Being able to master this movement opens up the door to the next level of squats.

  1. Bring your feet about shoulder-width apart. Feet slightly facing outward.
  2. Place your hands straight out in front of you for balance (You can also place them behind your head. These are known as prisoner squats).
  3. When going down, imagine sitting in a chair.
  4. Keep your feet flat on the ground and make sure your knees stay behind your toes.
  5. As you “sit back”, keep your chest and chin up and your head looking forward.
  6. Once your thighs are parallel to the ground, transition into the upward movement.
  7. Push off using the heel of your feet and end with a slight bend in your knees (avoid locking your knees in place).
  8. Repeat the perfect body weight squat.

Squat With Dumbbells

Now we’re taking your squats to the next level. Weighted resistance is the key to muscle growth. More muscle growth means a stronger, leaner, and better you. The motion is exactly the same, except you have resistance. Start off with medium to heavy dumbbells (20+ lbs).

The most important thing to note is to avoid rocking your knees in and out. If this is happening, then the weight is probably too heavy. Be patient and work your way up.

  1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Bring your feet about shoulder-width apart. Feet slightly facing outward.
  3. Bring the dumbbells up to your shoulder. (I typically let the back bulb of the dumbbell rest on my shoulders).
  4. Elbows should be facing outward slightly
  5. When going down, imagine sitting in a chair.
  6. Keep your feet flat on the ground and make sure your knees stay behind your toes.
  7. As you “sit back”, keep your chest up and your head looking forward.
  8. Once your thighs are parallel to the ground transition into the upward movement.
  9. Push off using the heel of your feet and end with a slight bend in your knees (avoid locking your knees in place).
  10. Repeat for the perfect squat with dumbbells.

Sumo Squat

Sumo squats focus on inner thigh muscles, while also supporting all other leg muscles. I enjoy them because they offer a nice stretch of the inner thighs. Developing inner and outer thigh muscles also help with stability and control as you start lifting heavier weights.

The sumo squat places less pressure on your knees since you’re in a wider stance. This allows you to use a heavier dumbbell than you typically would. The mechanics are mostly the same but there are some minor tweaks.

  1. Start with your feet in a wide stance, slightly facing outward.
  2. Grab your dumbbell, and hold one end up to your chest with both hands, making it perpendicular to the floor.
  3. Palms should be facing each other and bring your elbows inward into a comfortable position.
  4. Repeat the motion of sitting back, and instead of stopping when your thighs are perpendicular, go as low as you can (Since your knees are out more, there’s less strain and you have a wider range of motion available.).
  5. Both elbows should end just slightly on the inside of your thighs.
  6. Keep your chest high and your spine straight. Avoid leaning forward too much.
  7. Push back up using your heels.
  8. Repeat for the perfect sumo squat.

Jump Squat

Jump squats are a fun change-up from traditional squats; simply because you add a jump on the way up. The jump helps with explosiveness (which is beneficial when doing weighted squats.) Additionally, it gives you a cardio boost to help burn more body fat overall. Even better, it opens up the door for learning how to do burpees.

Your body placement is similar to the standard squats.

  1. Bring your feet about shoulder-width apart. Feet slightly facing outward.
  2. Place your hands on your side.
  3. When going down, imagine sitting in a chair.
  4. Keep your feet flat on the ground and make sure your knees stay behind your toes.
  5. As you “sit back”, keep your chest up and your head looking forward.
  6. Once your thighs are parallel to the ground transition into the upward movement.
  7. Push off using the heel of your feet and explode up into the air bringing your hands up above you.
  8. As you come down, land on the heels of your feet while maintaining a slight bend in your knees. Automatically go back in the downward motion.
  9. Repeat for the perfect jump squat.

Squat Rack

The end all be all! The squat rack looks intimidating. Sometimes you’ll feel like unless you can load it up with weights, you don’t belong there. Don’t believe that! To really get butt growth that you want and to boost your confidence, incorporate the squat rack into your workouts.

The squat rack offers the same mechanics as the squat with dumbbells.

  1. First, set up the rack. (I place the bar just out of reach of my shoulders so that a slight tip-toe places them on my traps.)
  2. I want to trust in my body so I don’t use guards. (Just use the bar on its own).
  3. Step up under the bar and place it on top of your traps (the meaty part of your shoulder and upper back that your neck splits.
  4. Find a comfortable place for your hands. Most bars have a slight indentation on both sides. Once you’re centered, place your thumb or index finger on that groove. This lets you know you’re centered.
  5. Avoid leaning forward excessively and relax your shoulder so your arms aren’t tight. (Don’t hunch up.)
  6. Remove the bar from the rack.
  7. Bring your feet about shoulder-width apart. Feet slightly facing outward.
  8. When going down, imagine sitting in a chair.
  9. Keep your feet flat on the ground and make sure your knees stay behind your toes.
  10. As you “sit back”, keep your chest up and your head looking forward.
  11. Once your thighs are parallel to the ground, transition into the upward movement.
  12. Push off using the heel of your feet and end with a slight bend in your knees (avoid locking your knees in place).
  13. Repeat for the perfect squat rack.

You’ve mastered the perfect squat and variations for an amazing lower body. Now master these 10 Must-Do Moves for Perfect, Toned Arms.

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