Rarely does the average gym-goer deviate from the standard barbell back squat; however, there are many variations of this classic lift that should be implemented into your workouts to create a well-rounded lifting program and overall physique.
| Barbell Front Squat
The front squat has many advantages that make it necessary in any serious lifting program. Front squatting promotes balanced leg strength, is great for your core and upper back, and the movement is much easier to perfect than the traditional back squat.
The front squat has gained popularity in recent years due to its prominence in CrossFit, and is always a primary component of powerlifting and Olympic lifting programs.
| Zercher Squat
The zercher squat is a very uncommon exercise, and you’d be hard-pressed to find the average lifter implementing it into their weightlifting program, but this variation of the squat has a lot of benefits. If you deadlift, the increased activation of the torso and core during this variation, in addition to the lower body benefits of any squat, have a high correlation to deadlifting success. Even if you aren’t a deadlifter, the zercher squat is a great exercise to add to your lower-body days in the gym.
| Overhead Squat
The overhead squat is essential in training for the barbell snatch, thus its popularity in Olympic weightlifting; however, the overhead squat trains muscular control, balance, and mobility in addition to the core benefits of the barbell squat. Developing balance and mobility, especially in the squat movement, is imperative for your legs in order to reach their greatest potential.
The hip demands that this squat variation requires sets it apart from any other variation and should certainly be implemented into any serious weightlifter’s routine.
| Bulgarian Split Squat
The split squat is great, but the Bulgarian split squat allows you to go lower in the movement, putting much more emphasis on your quads than a traditional barbell split squat. In addition to this advantage, the Bulgarian variation of the squat trains balance, corrects strength imbalances, and is a great exercise for hypertrophy training. This variation can be done with bodyweight, dumbbells held at your sides, as a dumbbell goblet-squat, or with a back or front barbell squat.
| Anderson Squat
Last but not least, the Anderson squat. Popularized by legendary Olympic weightlifter, Paul Anderson, the Anderson squat builds raw strength by eliminating the stretch reflex, or “bounce,” at the bottom of the traditional barbell back squat. This movement makes you focus on pressing at the bottom of your squat, which, in the long run, will increase your overall strength in back squats.