Squat Variations for Lower Body Strength

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

Lower body strength is key for staying safe, mobile and independent. Try these squat variations to build strength and stability.

The squat is a simple but mighty move for building lower body strength. Including squats in your workouts makes it easier to stand up from the couch, pick things up from the floor, and get in and out of cars.

Before you try these variations, make sure you’ve mastered a basic bodyweight squat first. Need a refresher? Check out our beginner’s guide to the squat.

Here are some tips to remember for proper form:

  • Push your hips back as if you’re sitting down on a chair.
  • Keep your chest up. Don’t let it collapse forward.
  • Think about pushing your knees out. Don’t them cave inward.
  • Push through your heels to return to standing.

If you’re confident with your form, get a sturdy, stable chair and try these squat variations.

1. Basic Squat

Use a chair to help with your seated posture and for support if you need it. Start from a seated position with your feet pressed firmly to the floor in front of you. Sit tall and think of your posture. Then, stand up. From this standing position, shift your weight to the heels of your feet and practice a basic squat in front of the chair.

2. Tandem Squat

Sitting in your chair with feet to the floor aligned with your knees, step your left foot a few inches forward. Try standing up and sitting back down. It should feel a little different than the basic squat. From the standing position, practice squatting in front of the chair with your left foot still ahead of the other. After a few squats, sit back down and switch the position of your feet, moving your right foot ahead of the left. Practice squatting in this position.

3. Plie Squat

Ready to kick it up a notch? Stand in front of your chair with feet hip distance apart. Step out to the right side, bending the knees slightly for a gentle squat, return to standing tall, then come back to center. This the Plie Squat. Now let’s try it on the other side! Step out to the left, keep your back straight as you gently squat here, then come back to center. The next time you step out to the right side, hold your position with legs wide. Perform the plie squat here, press your lower body toward to the floor, then slowly push yourself back up. After a few squats, come back to center and then try it again on the left side. Finally, we’ll alternate with plie squats on each side. Step right, squat, step back to center. Step left, squat, come back to center.

Add squats to your daily routine and build the strength you need to keep doing the things you love.

As always, safety is key. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

Check Your SilverSneakers Eligibility Instantly

SilverSneakers members can get hundreds of On-Demand workouts, wellness videos, nutrition tips and more. If you have a Medicare Plan, it may include SilverSneakers—at no additional cost. Check your eligibility instantly here.

Already a member? Get exclusive fitness content by logging in to or creating your online account here.