The topic that we will analyze in this article is rather complicated and delicate, and I admit that his treatment is more difficult than other exercises. Let’s talk about the Squat . If, as we said before, the flat bench is “the queen of the exercises”, the Squat is indisputably “the KING”.
This exercise has been given countless consequences (both positive and negative): “the Squat is the best exercise for the legs “, “the Squat does not train only the legs but also the upper part”, “the Squat increases the Testosterone “,” It is the best exercise for the buttocks in absolute “,” the Squat hurts the back “, etc. all word of mouth dressing room gym and typical of those who have a vision of things “white or black”.

In reality the question is much more complex and the variables that take place in the treatment of the Squat are endless and consequently any generalization or standardization of a concept would result in a non-serious and professional nonsense.

The Squat is not for everyone

 half squat

This section of articles is dedicated to Bodybuilding. In the BB you train the muscle, not the exercise.

In the BB we will not find irreplaceable exercises, surely some will be more effective than others, but never irreplaceable.
Consequently, it is useless to get caught up in an exercise that is not for us when it presents us with too many problems, as it can happen in the case of the Squat.
The squat is an “elite” exercise and it is absolutely not for everyone when to approach it it is a must to do it in total safety in all respects

Here are the main problems that can be found during a Squat:

  • back problems of all kinds
  • difficulty in maintaining the lumbar curve in physiology under load
  • femurs too long in proportion to the height that force us to throw the torso too far forward
  • poor mobility of the tibio-tarsal joint
  • the two previous points require us to “pay” with the other links of the chain involved
  • valgus at the ankles
  • valgism or varism in the knees
  • excessively “short” musculature (primarily the Ischiocrurali) prevent fluid squat and reach the required depth
  • poor motor coordination, not up to the technical gesture

The Squat is not for everyone, and for those “few” should not be the same for everyone.

The squat in Powerlifing is a “codified” exercise that imposes uniformity of execution in order to have parameters to be able to judge the performance of the different athletes in an impartial way.

In Bodybuilding this problem does not arise (as mentioned before the BB trains the muscle not the exercise) in fact there is “the Squat from PL” but not “the Squat from BB”, consequently – returning to the previous speech – the subjects predisposed to this type of squat will have to have the foresight and skill to sew on them the executive mode that makes us enjoy the maximum result with the least risk.

What muscle is training the Squat?

what muscles trains the squat

At the anatomical level during a squat with a barbell we can see:

  • an extension of the femur on the tibia
  • an extension of the hip on the femur
  • an extension of the tibio-tarsal joint
  • a high static component for core stability

The squat is unquestionably one of the exercises that most fully affect the muscles of the thighs and buttocks, but not only, going to hit the entire rear extensor chain (buttocks, hamstrings, calves and spinal erectors), quadriceps, adductors and abductors up to the abdomen that guarantees global stability during the lift.

Going more in detail we can say that the selective stimulation of the different muscles of the thighs depends on the type of execution adopted (or that is imposed on us by our conformation).
Although there are a thousand nuances of this exercise we can summarize them by subdividing them into two macro categories:


  • Knee-dominant squat : more visual execution in the BodyBuilding, foresees to keep the torso rather vertical during the whole arc of movement and consequently the tibia and the knee will be brought forward, this determines a greater activation of the quadriceps at the expense of the kinetic chain rear. This type of execution is adopted – in a completely involuntary and natural way – even for subjects with a low center of gravity and / or very short femurs.
  • Hip-dominant squat : typical of the Powerlifters, provides a very wide excursion with the hip joint and consequently the bust will be inclined a lot forward at the deepest point; at the same time the tibia will assume an always rather vertical position, this determines a great activation of the posterior kinetic chain therefore great emphasis on gluteus and femoral at the expense of the quadriceps. In addition to the PL this execution is typical of the subjects with very long femurs in proportion to height (high barycentre). Needless to say that this mode of execution will also impose more stress on the lower back.

Exercises for the buttocks

In a view to complete training for the development of the buttock the squat should alternate with other exercises. First of all, the Hip Thrust , which works with a flexed knee, puts the accent on the work of the buttock. Lunges are also an excellent exercise, like climbing up a step or a bench. All flexion and extension movements of the hip are excellent, when we look for the best exercises for the buttocks , in addition to the squat.

How deep is an effective Squat?

buttocks squat

As mentioned earlier in the BB there is no uniformity of the technical gesture of the Squat as it is sewn based on subjective needs and their joint problems.

One of the most important variables that we notice in the executions of the various Squats is precisely the depth with which the squatting is performed: the interesting thing is that there is no correct or wrong execution, but must be contextualized in relation to the muscular stimulation we want to generate consequently the same same execution could be correct for one subject and at the same time incorrect for another.
(We can make an exception if we see a ” Dildo Squat ” with a 2.5cm hike from guys with a presumption and a huge ego, even greater than the load used).

We start from the concept that the maximum elongation during a multiarticular exercise often transfers the tension on another ring of the motor chain involved.
Here is explained why we see many BBer (also PRO of modal level) which are wrongly judged unable to perform a squat as they only perform “half squat”: simply a complete squat would transfer the tension on the buttocks and femoral going to lose it on the quadriceps, for this reason, during the descent they will go to restrain and reverse the movement before the quadriceps transfer the tension on the hind legs and buttocks.

Vice versa if you are beginners or intermediate and your priority is not to work specifically the muscle detail but rather is to get an activation as comprehensive as possible you can very well opt for a deep squat or at least under the parallel (specifying that a complete excursion ” ass to the ground “- ass to the grass – typical of the pesquisas remains really elite), in this way you will have a local involvement of all the muscles of the thighs.

The Squat and its (infinite) variations

Front Squat

front squat

The first variant that should be mentioned is definitely the version with front balance, the Front Squat .

When approaching the front squat the first problem that is encountered is definitely “the joint” of the balance on the clavicle, the so-called Olympic grip is definitely the best but requires a high stress to the shoulder and wrist joint while the one from BBer with crossed hands will offer us less stability of the bar itself: even here maximum personalization!
The barbell held in frontal position will change the center of mass ensuring a more vertical posture with the torso during the entire range of movement and consequently also the muscle activation will be different when compared to the “Back Squat”: we will have a better involvement of the quadriceps and a lower involvement of the lumbar region, on the other hand we must say that the forces on the hamstrings will be greater in this version.

Given the postural advantage described above, the Front Squat is suitable for tall subjects or with a rather high center of gravity. 

Hack Squat

The Hack Squat is a machine that allows us to execute a seam in a completely guided and constrained way: unlike the other variants, in this, the pelvis is not free to move in space and consequently we will be bound on three points or feet , the pelvis and the clavicles (on which the tool will be placed).

This peculiarity of course has advantages and disadvantages, as always.
Among the advantages we find a greater isolation of the Quadricipite muscle, moreover being just bound allows us to work safely with the back and if we wanted to pull an “All-Out” series as a finisher the choice of a Hack Squat is certainly more consistent than a Free squat.
Among the disadvantages we can see that these constraints almost completely inhibit the co-contraction of the femoral (remember that in the squat behave like “tie rods” acting as ligaments that protect the knee) and therefore the tension on the hamstring will be very high.

Given its nature, the hack squat is best suited to moderate loads and TUT protracted for medium-long times rather than focusing exclusively on the load.

Squat at the Multipower

squat multipower

On the Squat at the Multipower – or Smith machine , as you prefer – we have heard of every kind, up to the two extremisms such as “the Squat at Multipower saws your joints with its cutting forces” or “it’s better than free in how much safer being driven “.

Now not being an article on biomechanics we will not be telling you which of the two is more truthful, check it on the most authoritative texts and draw their conclusions.
We can say, however, that has the advantage of being able to slightly vary the execution of a Squat without having to forcefully replicate it in a manner faithful to that performed with free rocker, for example can guarantee a greater verticality with the bust or can afford an amplitude of feet slightly narrower than what we could do in the free squat, so as to localize the muscle tension in the bundles that most affect.

Precise also that the execution is not completely distorted than the free Squat, if we stray too far from what is our posture and “physiological” execution it is natural that we will meet forces of cutting and negative joint stressors!

Sissy Squat

The Sissy Squat is nothing more than a mono-articular Squat that pivots on the knee joint while the hip one will be practically still

In practice we create a Leg extension “on the contrary” in which the fixed point (tibia) and the mobile torso (femurs and torso) will be inverted.
Exercise is totally dependent on the quadriceps creating an excellent stimulus in elongation, while the posterior thigh and buttocks will be inhibited, as well as to involve in a static way the hip flexors such as the femoral rectum (which is bi-articular) and the Ileo Psoas that allow us to maintain posture with the bust.

By imposing an inhibition of the posterior extensor chain, the Sissy Squat weighs heavily on the knee joint. As a consequence, we recommend performing it only to the a-symptomatic subjects and never as a first exercise but with the tendon already very hot.

Squat Sumo

The Squat Sumo is nothing more than a Squat performed with an extremism of the stance of the feet, going to enlarge them in addition to what would be natural, remembering precisely the position adopted by the wrestlers from which the exercise takes its name.

This variant is very used in female training because at the point of maximum depth it allows a greater lengthening and consequently a better activation of the adductor muscles.

Bulgarian Squat

Bulgarian squat

For completeness of information it is right to mention the Bulgarian Squat , but that we will not deal with this article but we will see in detail in the one dedicated to Affondi and related variants.

Squats at home and squats with dumbbells

Many girls who do not go to the gym can try squat at home , maybe with dumbbells. Not being able to use an adequate overload to make the exercise profitable we recommend two variants.
The first is a tabata squats , namely:

  • 20 “squat
  • 10 “recovery

For 8-12 series or 4-6 ‘of total work. It is important to try to go down to the parallel and perform as many squats as possible. The really strong girls manage to make 20 in 20 “, the ideal would be to get at least 10 repetitions.

Another training to do with the squat at home is to use 10 “for each repetition, go down in 4”, stop at the bottom for 2 “and go up again in 4”. In this way we can try to pelvis antivertere trying to focus our work on the buttock.

These are all tricks to make it more difficult to squat when we do not have a barbell available and we are training at home 🙂

See Another Article: Leg press in bodybuilding: how to do it

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