squatting
© Per Bernal

The neck bar squat is not the only variant for forging huge legs.

The squat: 1 movement, 5 variants

The squat is an exercise that must be included in any good bodybuilding program. No excuse is allowed. Here it is, it says. Painful knees, a stiff lower back, lack of equipment: all of these are bad excuses, especially when you consider all the variations of the "exercise king". You don't want to put the bar on your neck? No problem. It's not necessary. However, you must perform a version of this exercise to increase the strength and volume of the lower body, optimize the stabilization and functioning of the sheathing, maintain an adequate range of motion of the pelvis, knees and ankles, and guarantee a good general level of health and physical condition. Lower the body until the thighs are at least parallel to the ground, then recruit the larger muscles to return to standing. Repeat several times: it's official, you practice the jump in the desired way. It's up to you to select the load. Below, you'll find six great variations of the squat and a leg session showing you how to incorporate them. Start with one or more variants and throw your excuses in the trash.

Front squat

The little extra: Compared to the neck bar squat, the front squat uses the quadriceps more than the glutes and forces the practitioner to keep the torso straighter. The front squat is therefore excellent when you need to target the quadriceps behind or when you suffer from your lower back.
Execution: Stand in the squat cage and place the held bar with your fingertips on the deltoids, elbows raised forward. Open chest, flat back and toned abs, flex your knees and pelvis, as if you are sitting in a chair, until your quads are parallel to the floor. Keep your back toned and straight. During the positive portion of the exercise, go up in an explosive movement by pushing on your heels and keep your torso straight from start to finish.
The good moment: Program this exercise at the start of the leg session.

Bulgarian Alternate Squat

The little extra: The Bulgarian squat is an excellent alternative for improving the functional strength and mobility of the pelvis. The rear hip flexor is much more stretched compared to the standard position, feet on the same line.
Execution: With a dumbbell in each hand, arms on the sides, place one foot on a stable raised object or a bench behind you, knee bent and the other foot flat on the ground in front of you. The front foot must be sufficiently advanced so that the knee remains behind the toes when you lower the body. Bend the front knee to lower the body. Bend the front knee to lower the body. When the front quadriceps arrives parallel to the ground, push on the heel to return to the starting position. Do all your reps then change legs.
The good moment: As the Bulgarian alternate squat is a difficult exercise, it is better to do it when the legs are cool. schedule it at the start of the session, even if you are using relatively light loads.

Goblet Squat

The little extra: The goblet squat is performed like the front squat, but with a kettlebell or a barbell instead of the barbell. The load is therefore lighter (but the series is longer) and the wrists are less attacked. Apart from these big differences, the quadriceps are targeted (rather than the glutes) and it is easier to remain standing.
Execution: Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell with your hands just below the chin, elbows on the sides. Take the sides of the kettlebell handle or the top of the dumbbell. Start with feet shoulder width apart and toned abs. Bend your knees and lower your torso and behind as deep as possible (ideally go beyond the parallel with the ground) while keeping your heels on the ground. Reverse the movement by extending the pelvis and knees and pushing on the heels. Keep your back flat and your abs tight from start to finish.
The good moment: Do the goblet squat instead of the front squat, at the start of the session if you take heavy or at the end if you work with a light load and long series. This is a real highlight for the leg session.

Jump squat with 180 ° rotation

The little extra: the jump squat offers a level of power development that is impossible to obtain when you keep your feet on the ground, even with the heavy bar squat. With the 180 ° rotation in the air, we not only improve coordination and athletic condition compared to the standard jump squat, but we also use a little more adductors and abductors (inner and outer thighs).
Execution: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and descend into a squat position until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Go up in an explosive movement, take off, rotate 180 ° in the air and land in a squat position.
The good moment: Explosive jumps must always be performed at the start of the session, before force work with heavy loads, when the legs are still fresh.

Skate squat

The little extra: Easier to perform than the pistol squat, the skater squat has all the advantages. As it is unilateral movement, it promotes strength and muscular balance. Since it does not require any equipment, it can be done anywhere, at home or on the go. It stresses the lower back less, because the overload does not come from a bar worn on the shoulders. (The weight of the body is supported by one leg, which constitutes sufficient stress).
Execution: When standing, lift one foot off the ground. Squat the other leg, letting the passive leg go behind the active leg (like a speed skateboarder) to stay balanced. When the active thigh arrives at the parallel of the ground (or almost) and the rear foot is on the ground, reverse the movement to return to the standing position. Do all of your leg reps, then switch sides and start again.
The good moment: At the end of your leg session or as a finishing exercise, at home or on the go if you have to work on your body weight.