~ 3-5 minute read
Do you have limited kit? Perhaps just 1 dumbbell? Do you struggle with the lack of variety in your training, maybe due to this lack of equipment?
Then you’re not alone.
Finding new and creative ways to move is always fun, however are they effective?
Or even more importantly, have you earnt the right to perform these variations?
Here are 12 Squat variations that i have put in a Strength Continuum, starting at what i believe are Foundational Strength movement patterns, all the way up to high skilled lifting, all either using just bodyweight or 1 dumbbell.
Where are you along this strength continuum? Have you jumped straight to the end cause they “look more effective”? or have you sufficiently earnt the right to progress up the ladder?
Mastering the basics is key to progress. However, we are all to keen to jump to the sexy stuff.
The only issue is, if you jump to a part of the strength continuum that you haven’t earnt the right to be there yet, it won’t take long until the missing links start to show in the form of niggles & strength limitations.
Here are my 3 foundational squat exercises, that if performed correctly, set the path for you to start building strength with load.
STEP 1: AIR SQUAT
STEP 2: TEMPO AIR SQUAT
STEP 3: PAUSE AIR SQUAT
By progressing through these progressions, you will have shown control and skill, which means you should be safe and stable to progress. Once you feel confident here, grab a dumbbell and lets add load.
Now that you have nailed these bodyweight versions, it’s time to start adding load.
Grab a dumbbell and hold it in your goblet position. By Loading your front, not only challenges your core/midline more but also helps aid in positional strength and increase mobility.
STEP 4: GOBLET SQUAT
STEP 5: TEMPO GOBLET SQUAT
STEP 6: PAUSE GOBLET SQUAT
By following this progression, it identifies that you are increasing your skill with external loading. Too many people jump straight to this step and skip out their foundations and then wonder why maybe their lower back is taking too much stress or they can’t get low enough.
These type of limiters are normally identified at the early stages in your foundational movements and can be addressed.
Now loading just one side of your body creates a whole host of new stimulus.
Not only have you got to perform more squats to balance out each side (for example, now you have to do 8 each side rather than just 8 total) but you also have a more demanding stress on your core/midline. You now have to work your anti rotation muscles to stop your body twisting as you move through the range of motion.
A great bang for your buck variation in my opinion.
Mobility, Strength and Core all in one.
STEP 7: SINGLE ARM DUMBBELL FRONT SQUAT
STEP 8: TEMPO SINGLE ARM DUMBBELL FRONT SQUAT
STEP 9: PAUSE SINGLE ARM DUMBBELL FRONT SQUAT
Now, we are ready to not only challenge your single sided strength and stability, but also your overhead strength, stability and mobility all in one.
An overhead squat will challenge your shoulder, thoracic, hip, knee and ankle mobility and stability all at the same time.
You can easily see that when we jump straight to the sexy exercises and have not progressed through the continuum, we are exposed to the risk of potential injuries.
However, when we have earnt the right to expose ourselves to such high demand and skill, the rewards are great because not only do we feel confident performing these lifts, but we know we have earnt the right to be there.
STEP 10: OVERHEAD DUMBBELL SQUAT
STEP 11: TEMPO OVERHEAD DUMBBELL SQUAT
STEP 12: PAUSE OVERHEAD DUMBBELL SQUAT
Working your way up the strength continuum can seem boring and unnecessary, however, revisiting these foundational movements help you fine tune where you’re currently at.
You may be at the progressive or advanced strength stage and that is great, but it’s worth revisiting your foundational exercises and seeing where/if there is room for improvement.
Remember a house built on solid foundations will stand the test of time and this is no different to your lifting career.
The stronger your foundations are, the stronger your potential is with the more complicated lifts.
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