Types of Squat

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Variations on the squat lift

There are many types of squat available to weight lifters and the variety you choose depends on the workout you are looking for and your level of proficiency in squatting.

There are lots of variations on the traditional squat technique, all with varying levels of difficulty and designed to target different areas of the leg and the body in different ways.

Once you have prepared your stance and found your grip, you need to decide which of the types of squat you want to perform before lifting the bar off the hooks or the squat rack.

Types of squat

There are a number of types of squat with different benefits to each variety. Below is a list of the most common squat types: back squat, parallel squat, shallow squat, deep squat, Olympic squat and front squat.

Back squat

The back squat is the basic squat posture, where the bar rests on the back of the shoulders behind your neck. This is the normal way to squat. The back squat has many variations, depending on the depth of the squat.

Parallel squat

The parallel squat is a squat technique where your knees bend to 90 degrees and your thighs finish parallel to the ground at the bottom of the squat. This is the normal squat used in regular weight training routines.

When weight lifters talk about performing a squat, they will usually be talking about parallel squats. This is the most common of the squat types.

Shallow squat / Half squat

The shallow squat is a high squat that finishes with an obtuse angle between thighs and ground, leaving usually about 60 degrees between knee and hip.

You reach the bottom of the squat before the thighs become parallel with the ground and stop early. Anything shallower than parallel is called a shallow squat.

The shallow squat can be beneficial to those with weaker knees for whom squatting to a parallel squat might cause pain or injury.

The shallow squat is also a good technique for those who are new to squatting and is often used as a bodyweight exercise.

For those looking to types of squats that are easier on the knees or for a lighter exercise, shallow squats are the way to go.

Deep squat / Full squat

The deep squat is when the knees form an acute angle with the ground as you squat deeper. The bottom of the squat finishes low to the ground and knees are heavily bent.

This is an advanced squatting posture and should only be attempted by experienced squatters or when using lighter weights.

The deep squat is good for when using the squat as a more advanced body weight exercise, and while getting used to squatting deeper than parallel.

Always take it slowly when using these types of squat because deep squats are harder on the knees and have therefore have a greater potential for causing injury than shallow squats.

Olympic squat

The Olympic squat is a very deep squat used in competition. This is an advanced squat where the squatter uses maximum knee flexion.

The bottom of the squat is right down almost to ground level.

The Olympic squat is a highly advanced squatting technique and one of the most demanding types of squats.

Front squat

In front squats, the bar rests on the shoulders in front of the neck. This is a less common alternative to back squats.

The front squat tends to place more pressure on the knees due to the extra pressure on the front of the body.

Because the front squat has a stronger risk of knee injury, it should be attempted only be experienced weightlifters.

The front squat is also best attempted with the aid of a Smith machine or certainly a squat rack.

Read more about squatting:

Introduction to the barbell squat

Squat stance 

Performing the squat

Squat safety

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