35+ Squat Exercises: Ultimate Squat Guide

The squat is one of the most effective and versatile ways to build a strong, sustainable foundation for your survival skills. But how do you know what kind of squat is best? What are good exercises for baby squats? We’ve got all the answers here! Let’s get to it!.

The “good squat form” is an essential part of any exercise routine. A good squat form will help you achieve your goals and keep you safe in the process.

Vintage soldiers doing squats in front of tank ship.

Note from the editor: This is a guest post by Joel Ohman.

The squat, oh, the squat. Without a doubt, one of the most manly workouts available, and with good cause. You could make a compelling argument that squatting is the finest workout you can perform. Many of the old time bodybuilding and powerlifting greats even went on record in the old school weightlifting classic, Super Squats: How to Gain 30 lbs of Muscle in 6 Weeks by Dr. Randall Strossen, saying that if they had to choose only one exercise to see maximum results, they would choose…you guessed it, the squat.

Why is the squat known as the “King of Exercises”? Because it simultaneously exercises all of the muscles in your legs while also strengthening your hips and lower back. It’s also a total-body workout since your upper body is used as well. As a result, it gets your heart pounding, your calories burning, and your testosterone surging.

So, if you want to start working out like a king, here’s the complete guide to completing 35+ various squat exercises, some of which are bodyweight workouts and others of which need the use of weights. Don’t attempt them all at once; the squat, in particular, demands careful attention to form.

You won’t be able to squat 1,000 pounds or have a cool James Bond villain meets Tony Little sounding nickname like “Dr. Squat” if you learn how to do all of these, but you will add variety to your workouts while still punishing your leg muscles with the satisfying deep down pain that only squats can deliver.

The Ultimate Squat Workout Guide

Squat of the Inmates


The prisoner squat, also known as the bodyweight squat, is a wonderful workout that you can perform without any equipment. It’s also a bodyweight workout that you can perform practically anyplace with little chance of humiliation since it’s a bodyweight exercise (i.e. handstand push-ups are another great bodyweight exercise as well, but are much harder to explain if your boss walks into your office and catches you with your feet up against a wall).

Squat with a Barbell


The traditional squat. If you just have time to complete one of these squat exercises, make it this one. The barbell squat is used in almost every reputable traditional weight training regimen, from the original 5-5 Workout Plan to the Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout Plan.

Box Squat


Box squats may be difficult if you’ve ever attended one of the Westside Barbell training sessions, when incredibly enormous guys routinely squat stupidly high weights until their noses start bleeding (literally).

Jump Squat with a Barbell


This is an excellent workout for increasing your vertical leap and increasing your explosiveness. The idea is to utilize low weight and not to be so arrogant that you feel compelled to use the “huge plates.”

Squat Jump Freehand


This is a fantastic plyometric body weight squat workout that eliminates the power generated by your arms while leaping.


Front Squat with a Barbell


This is perhaps the second most popular barbell squat exercise (after the conventional barbell “back” squat), and it works the quadriceps, core, and stabilizers a bit more than the standard barbell squat. To rest the barbell, flare your elbows as high as possible and form a “shelf” on the meaty front area of your shoulders.

Squat with a Low Bar


Brett is shown how to do a low bar squat by Mark Rippetoe. More information on Mark’s work may be found at http://aom.is/rippetoe.

Squat with a Barbell


At first, this might be a difficult action to learn, particularly if your arms are on the shorter side. One benefit of practicing barbell hack squats is that it eliminates any soreness caused by the spinal compression that comes with carrying large weights on your shoulders. This is similar to a “reverse deadlift movement.”

Jump from a Split Squat


This is a plyometric bodyweight action that looks like a cross between a lunge and a squat leap.

Squat with a Barbell from Above


If I’m being really honest, this is definitely the most difficult squat on the list for me. I’ve been lifting weights for over 15 years and used to consider myself a fairly flexible person (my physical therapist referred to me as “hyper mobile,” and when I first started doing martial arts as a teenager, I could come close to doing a full side squat without much practice), but I’m terrible at performing overhead barbell squats with good form. Before trying to get heavy on this exercise, try it with a broomstick or an empty barbell (and ideally with someone observing who knows what they’re doing).

Split Squat with Bulgarian Dumbbells


Just a single word. Ouch. These are excruciating. The higher the bench, the lower you descend, and the farther out your lead leg is placed, the more painful they will be. If you’ve never done these exercises before, be prepared for days of acute groin, hip, and glute muscle ache.

Bulgarian Split Squat Goblet


You could assume that they are so similar to the preceding exercise that they don’t need to be mentioned separately. Reconsider your position. If Bulgarian dumbbell split squats are painful, this goblet variant is excruciating. Maintaining perfect form while holding a dumbbell (or a kettlebell, medicine ball, small animal/child, etc.) in the goblet position is very hard for the core and stabilizer muscles. And, much as with the ordinary dumbbell version, your groin, glutes, hips, thighs, and quads are screaming in agony. Enjoy. (Please, no nasty letters; you’ll note that I do these as well.)

Squat Smith Machine


The Smith machine relieves your stabilizer muscles of a lot of the tension that a regular squat would cause. For a number of reasons, this isn’t ideal, but Smith machine squats may still be a good complement to your program for variety. One additional benefit is that you should be able to put on a lot of weight since they are considerably simpler than a traditional barbell squat.


Squat with Dumbbells


Dumbbell squats have one drawback: you can’t go really heavy with them (even if you’re one of those men who can curl 100-pound dumbbells to shoulder level). The benefit of performing them is that they work your stabilizers and leg muscles in a different way than a normal squat.

Squat with a Goblet


A dumbbell, medicine ball, or kettlebell may be used to do the goblet squat. Goblet squats are one of my favorite exercises because they drive you into a correct squat stance. Is it, as some argue, the “single greatest lifting movement of all time”? I wouldn’t go quite that far, but they should not be overlooked.

Squat with a Barbell


The same principles apply here as they do for the barbell back squat, only you’ll want to use a lesser weight and complete the action as fast as possible.

Squat with a barbell on one side and a squat with a


Because they are difficult, don’t load up the barbell with a lot of weight until you’ve mastered them. Please, please, please don’t be one of those guys who slings a ton of weight on the bar and then just performs half-reps instead of going through the complete range of motion. If you don’t ease up on the weight and complete them for the whole range of motion, you’re simply fooling yourself.

Squat of the Frog


This is another another excellent bodyweight exercise. Because of the broader stance needed, the frog squat targets the inner thigh/groin region a bit more than conventional squat exercises.

Squat with a Machine


This is an intermediate squat between the leg press machine and the conventional barbell squat. The ability to brace your back against the pad enables you to easily work on your stabilizer muscles while also allowing you to load up the machine with enough plates to truly amaze your gym’s non-weightlifting members. (If your pride is still hurting after the overhead dumbbell squats with a broom or simply the bar, then attempt these next to make yourself feel better about yourself if you need to.)

Squat Jump Machine


When practicing barbell jump squats, it’s never a good idea to add a lot of weight, but this rule doesn’t apply to machine jump squats.

Squat with Braces


There’s no need for a bench, barbell, or dumbbells. Squat down into a complete squat while holding a single weight plate straight out in front of you. Along with your leg muscles, this will really work your core and shoulders.

Squat with Dumbbells


Even if you just have a few dumbbells laying around, you can practice this squat in your basement.

Overhead Kettlebell Squat with One Arm


To get the form just correct, you’ll need to practice a little bit. In a pinch, a dumbbell will suffice, but a kettlebell is preferred.


Squat with a Pistol on the Bench


After you’ve mastered them with excellent technique, try doing pistol squats without the need of a bench. If you can do these without using a bench on your first attempt, you’re either a competitive gymnast or a phenomenally athletic person for whom the Superman Workout is likely only a warm-up.

Squat with a Bosu Ball


Don’t dismiss them because they need one of those “half balls” that are often used in aerobics sessions. If your equilibrium isn’t where it should be, you’ll notice it soon. There will be no cheating. Complete a complete squat by going all the way down below parallel.

Squat with a Swiss Ball


So you thought the squats with the Bosu Ball were simple, right? Perform some full squats while standing on a Swiss ball to test your balance. Have fun with it. (You may not want to attempt them in the midst of a packed gym for the first time.)

Front Squat with Double Kettlebells


These days, kettlebells are all the rage. Some kettlebell workouts seem constructed to the point of absurdity, more circus performance than fitness. One of them isn’t the double kettlebell front squat. Give them a go, but be sure to keep your core tight and follow proper technique.

Squat Zercher


This is a significantly more sophisticated form of the front squat using a barbell. Zercher squats, much more so than front squats, will tax your core.

Squat with Belt Dip


These are fantastic for vertical leap training as well as relieving the back strain that most other weighted squat variants cause.

Squat on a Squatting Machine


Another machine squat that lets you lift a lot of weight while relieving stress on your stabilizer muscles.

Squat Siff


This is a squat that you do while remaining entirely on your toes. This isn’t an activity for which you’ll want to utilize a lot of weight (if any), so go easy on it.

Squat Jefferson


The Jefferson Squat may get a few odd eyes at the gym, but don’t let the stares distract you from bringing the bar up too high at the peak of the action.

Squat of the Skater


The Skater Squat, like almost other single-leg motions, is an excellent way to improve your balance and flexibility.

Squat Sissy


So, does an exercise called the “Sissy Squat” belong on any of AOM’s lists? Try them out and make your own decision…

Squat in a Roman Chair


While the “Roman Chair Squat” has a more manlier sounding moniker than the Sissy Squat, it’s essentially a fairly simple action.

Keg Squat


Isn’t hauling a keg up onto your shoulders and pounding out a few squat repetitions the epitome of manliness?

Squat with a Sandbag


Only bear hugging/wrestling a sandbag into place and executing squats is probably more macho than throwing a keg (or a Bulgarian bag) about and doing squats. If you utilize a sandbag that weights as much as a grown man, you’ll get bonus points.


Are there any additional squat variants you’re aware of? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Are there any additional squat variants you’re aware of? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Joel Ohman is the co-founder of the social exercise website WeightTraining.com and a serial entrepreneur. He has been a long-time AOM reader (and contributor). To compete on the leaderboard, select a training plan, document your exercises, and have fun competing while seeing genuine results, join him in the AOM workout group. On WeightTraining.com, regular membership is completely free.



The “proper way to do squats” is an ultimate guide for people who want to learn how to squat. It includes 35 different exercises, with pictures and instructions on how to do them properly.

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