Squats are popular and effective for strengthening the lower body. They primarily work the glutes, quads, and hamstrings, (the bum and the fronts and backs of the thighs). Because they target multiple muscles, research suggests they can yield more benefits in less time than traditional methods.

Research also shows that exercises like squats can enhance overall strength and daily function. These variations on the classic exercise make it easy to spice up your routine with no or minimal equipment.

One and a Half Squat

The one and a half squat uses the same muscles as a standard squat: quads, glutes, inner thigh, abs, lower back, and calves. By rising halfway, then lowering again, then rising all the way to stand, this version increases your time under tension and puts more emphasis on the muscles engaged at the bottom of the squat, when your knees are bent.

This combination of full and partial repetitions also helps you build proprioception, the ability to sense your body’s movements and squat depth.

woman squatting Khosrork / Getty Images


Box Squats

The box squat is a variation of the standard squat that uses a box, chair, or other seat. While the depth of regular squats can vary, here, the height of the seat dictates the lowest point of your exercise.

Box squats can be helpful for developing body awareness, flexibility, and good form for regular squats. They are commonly used for people with injuries or mobility issues, too.

woman sitting on a box and stretching her arms FreshSplash / Getty Images


Jump Squats

The jump squat is a high-intensity spin on traditional squats that will get your heart rate up. It helps build strength in your legs and core muscles, enhancing your flexibility, agility, and endurance. A 2021 study found that these moves can reduce the risk of injuries.

Jump squats require you to stay upright, which helps improve your balance. This maneuver may help you recover faster after heavy workouts, too.

Adult Woman Training Legs Doing Squat and Jumping diego_cervo / Getty Images


Plié Squats

The plié squat depends on keeping a wide stance, like a ballet exercise. This positioning and broad range of motion help you develop more flexibility and mobility than regular squats. It works hard on your deep rotator muscles, making it an ideal exercise for sculpting your glutes and inner thighs.

man squatting and lifting a kettleball kali9 / Getty Images


Single-Leg or Pistol Squat

This advanced squat version challenges and builds the usual muscles, one side at a time, as well as your balance. Holding the other leg out in front of you increases the difficulty significantly, but this unilateral squat (one side at a time) mimics real-life movements and can increase ability in activities like climbing, cycling, and trail running.

woman doing one legged squat SrdjanPav / Getty Images


Pulse Squats

The pulse squat is a powerful exercise option. This move keeps the muscle fibers in the legs engaged longer as you move incrementally up and down in the lowest position. Like other variations, it works the glutes, quads, and hamstrings.

Pulse squats may also help strengthen the ankles and build muscular endurance. These reps can also improve the performance of other exercises, including box jumps or lateral hops.

Mature man squatting at home FG Trade / Getty Images


Hindu Squats

Hindu or Indian squats make your body fight to stay afloat, building coordination, balance, strength, and agility. While targeting your lower body, this routine also works your shoulders as your arms swing back and forth. It also requires focus on your breathing.

Lifting your heel engages your quads more than regular squats and alters your center of balance. Hindu squat motions can also improve stamina and cardiovascular endurance.

Senior jogger doing stretching Nastasic / Getty Images


Wall Squats

Wall squats can help strengthen your hip muscles, support your spine, and contribute to better posture. This variation might allow you to exercise safely with arthritis or other joint issues if your health care provider approves.

The Arthritis Foundation recommends wall squats to help build core muscles, quads, and buttocks.

a man and woman squatting against a wall FilippoBacci / Getty Images


Sumo Squats

Sumo squats work on your core, quads, and hamstrings. You widen your legs and turn your toes out, which also engages the glutes and inner thighs more than standard squats. This move can help enhance your physique, maintain good posture, and strengthen muscles involved in standing up, walking, running, and jumping.

woman doing Sumo Squat pose fizkes / Getty Images


Prisoner Squats

Prisoner squats or cobra squats are an excellent way to warm up your body. The positioning of the hands behind the head gives this maneuver its name and helps stabilize your core, back, and shoulder muscles. Since you can’t use your arms to balance yourself, you’re forced to rely on other stabilizing muscles.

man in red t-shirt exercising outdoors by the sea and doing wide squats rbkomar / Getty Images


Lateral Squats

The lateral squat, also called the side squat, targets the glutes, inner thighs, and quads more than standard squats. Its side-to-side movements can enhance stability and mobility in each leg and build strength in your core and lower body. This is helpful for improving alignment, enhancing motor skills, and reducing stress on the hips, knees, and ankles.

two woman performing lateral lunges at home undrey / Getty Images


Squat Walks

With squat walks, you hold a position at the bottom of a squat and walk forward some steps before rising. You use your hip muscles more than traditional squats because you must raise your thighs when taking steps. You may also engage your core muscles and lower back more.

man squatting in the gym RossHelen / Getty Images


Bulgarian Split Squats

The Bulgarian split squat is a single-leg exercise that elevates one leg on a surface behind you while the other does a squat. Its split positioning builds single leg strength and works the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. You can enhance your core strength, hip and ankle mobility, and overall stability as well.

woman doing leg split squats puckons / Getty Images


Sissy Squats

The strange-looking sissy squat is not named for being an easy cop-out. By rising onto the balls of the feet, and leaning backward while squatting, you work on balance while also targeting more of  the quads. The back and core must be strong to support the angle of the body as you move up and down.


Half Squats

Even though you're "only" going half way down, half squats are not a shortcut; this move activate the glutes and inner thigh more. Half squats work your quads, hamstrings, and calves, as well as your lower back and core muscles Training with half squats may increase your mobility and help you break through strength plateaus.

Mature Woman is Excercising in the Public Park ProfessionalStudioImages / Getty Images


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