This versatile exercise does more than firm your backside. Gain lower-body strength and total-body stability with these squat variations.
When it comes to toning your glutes, hips, and thighs, squats are a must. But this classic exercise is about more than looks.
It’s a functional move that makes it easier to stand up and sit down, walk up the stairs, pick things up from the floor, and even get in and out of the car. Strengthening your lower body can also help relieve pressure on your back, knees, ad hips so you can stay active for the long haul.
But there isn’t just one way to do a squat. Different variations can increase your range of motion and strengthen muscles you may not engage often, like your inner and outer thighs. Plus, moving your body in different ways will improve your balance and coordination.
How to Use the Squat
You’ll just need yourself and some open floor space. If you’d like support, feel free to stand near a wall or use a chair.
When you’re ready, press play on the video above and follow along as Andi demonstrates four different variations of the squat. You can also find instructions for each move below.
Focus on engaging your core throughout the entire movement. As you squat, make sure your knees track over your ankles and don’t cave inward. It may help to think about pushing your knees out slightly.
If you’re taking a SilverSneakers LIVE class, your instructor will guide you through the exercise, but feel free to use the variation that feels best for you. If you’re working out on your own at the gym, do up to three sets of six to 10 reps.
As always, safety is key. These exercises may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.
Variation #1: Narrow Squat
Stand tall with your feet about hip-width apart, toes pointing forward, and arms bent comfortably at your sides. Keeping your eyes forward and heels planted, push your hips back and bend your knees to lower into a squat that’s comfortable for you. At the same time, bring your hands together in front of your chest. Push through your heels to return to standing.
Variation #2: Wide Squat
Perform a narrow squat, but start with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Your toes can be pointed forward or slightly outward.
Variation #3: Alternating Side Squat
Stand tall with your feet together and arms bent comfortably at your sides. Step out to the side with your right foot, landing with your toes pointing forward. When both feet feel secure, push your hips back to lower into a squat. At the same time, bring your hands together in front of your chest. Pause, then push through your heels and step in with your right foot to return to starting position. Repeat on the other side. That’s one rep.
Variation #4: Rotational Squat
Stand tall with your feet a comfortable distance apart and arms bent comfortably at your sides. Keeping your left foot firmly planted but your knees soft, rotate and step back to the right so that your feet form an “L” shape. Find the range of motion that’s comfortable for you.
When both feet feel secure, push your hips back to lower into a squat. At the same time, bring your hands together in front of your chest. Pause, then push through your heels and step back to starting position. Perform all reps, then repeat on the other side.
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