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The squat is an exercise that has been building quad and glute strength since long before weightlifting became a sport. Kettlebells have become more popular in the last decade, and with them have come a series of exciting squat variations. The series of squat variations described below engage major muscle groups in addition to the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core. Variety is beneficial for progress; if you don’t regularly switch up your workout routine, your muscles get used to the exercises and you will stop seeing gains. Practicing squat variations, besides offering new stimulus to your muscles, can also prevent you from getting bored and losing motivation in the weight room.As you dive into these six movements, keep the basic tenets of squat form in mind. Your core should always be engaged, your knees should track your toes, and you should breathe properly. Breathing for a squat involves inhaling to create intra-abdominal pressure and exhaling partially to exert higher force through the sticking point of the movement. For a high-impact leg day, consider incorporating four of the movements into a circuit and completing two to three rounds. Or if you prefer, simply incorporate one or two of the movements into your daily regimen.
Gorilla Kettlebell Curl
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a kettlebell in each hand.
- Squat down as you simultaneously bring the kettlebells in front of you with palms facing out.
- Curl the kettlebell with your right hand as you pulse up and down in the squat position.
- Extend your right arm back to the starting position.
- Curl the kettlebell with your left hand as you pulse up and down in the squat position.
- Complete 8-10 reps for one set.
Front Squat to Press
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and the kettlebell in rack position on your right side.
- Keep your left arm out as you move into a squat position.
- Once your legs create a 90-degree angle, hold for 1-2 seconds before driving back up to standing position.
- Once you reach standing position, press the kettlebell overhead. The kettlebell should stack directly over the elbow, shoulder, and hip joints. Hold for 1-2 seconds before lowering the kettlebell back into rack position.
- Repeat 8-10 times on each side to complete one set.
- Hold a kettlebell by its horns directly in front of your chest. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Lower into a squat position. Go as low as you can without tucking your tailbone under or rounding your upper back. Your knees should track your toes throughout the movement.
- At the lowest point of your movement, use your elbows to push your knees slightly out and hold for 1-2 seconds.
- Return to starting position by driving through the heels and contracting your glutes at the top.
- Perform 10-12 reps to complete one set.
- Start with the kettlebell in front of the feet. Hinge forward and grab hold of the kettlebell handle with both hands. The hips should be at or below shoulder level. Set your back by pulling the shoulders down and away from the ears. Tip the bell back as you sink your weight back into the hips and hamstrings.
- Hike the bell back between your legs, keeping shoulders over the toes. Hips should remain at or below shoulder level. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings.
- Drive the feet into the floor as the bell comes forward, but instead of fully extending the hips, drop your butt down and come into a squat position, allowing the bell to float up to about chest level.
- As the bell comes back down, bring your hips back up to meet it and come into the backswing of the next repetition.
- Perform 10-12 reps to complete one set.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a kettlebell in rack position on your right arm.
- Press the kettlebell overhead with your right arm. The kettlebell should stack directly over the elbow, shoulder, and hip joints.
- Come down into a squat position, pushing the knees outward to allow your hips to open. Keep your left arm extended for balance.
- Hold the bottom of your squat for 1-2 seconds.
- Exhale as you return to standing position with the kettlebell overhead.
- Perform 8-10 reps per side to complete one set.
Kettlebell Pistol Squat
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a kettlebell in front of your chest with both hands gripping the handle.
- Lift your right leg off the floor and keep it extended as you move into a squat on your left leg.
- Hold the bottom of the pistol squat for a couple of seconds, keeping your chest up as much as possible. Do your best to keep your right leg off the floor throughout the movement.
- Push into your left heel to return to starting position.
- Perform 12-15 reps per side to complete one set.
Kettlebells are a fantastic way to add more variety to your workout, and we encourage you to be creative when using them. Think about separate movements you can combine to enhance your workout, similar to what you experienced by combining curls and squats into one movement with gorilla curls.