The Ultimate Squat Guide: 35+ Squat Exercises

by A Manly Guest Contributor on November 30, 2011 · 68 comments

in Fitness, Health & Sports

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Joel Ohman.

Ah, the squat. Certainly one of the manliest exercises around, and for good reason. You can make a strong case that the squat is the best exercise you can possibly do. In the old school weightlifting classic, Super Squats: How to Gain 30 lbs of Muscle in 6 Weeks by Dr. Randall Strossen, many of the oldtime bodybuilding and powerlifting greats even went on record as saying that if they were forced to choose only one exercise that they could do to see maximal results, then they would choose…yep, you guessed it, the squat.

So why is the squat often referred to as the “King of Exercises?” Because it works all the muscles in your legs at the same time, while also strengthening your hips and lower back. And your upper body is called upon as well, so it’s really a total body exercise. And because of this, it really gets the heart pumping, the calories burning, and your testosterone going.

So if you want to start working out like a king, here is the ultimate guide to performing 35+ different squat exercises–some of them bodyweight exercises and many of them using weights. Don’t try them all out at once; with the squat you really need to concentrate on using proper form.

Learn how to do all of these and you may not be able to squat 1,000 lbs or have a cool James Bond villain meets Tony Little sounding nickname like “Dr. Squat,” but you will most certainly add some variety to your workouts while still punishing your leg muscles with the satisfying deep down pain only squats can dish out.

The Ultimate Squat Exercise List

Prisoner Squat

Also known as the bodyweight squat, the prisoner squat is a great exercise you can do without any equipment. An added bonus is that it’s a bodyweight exercise that you can instantly start doing almost anywhere with minimal risk of embarrassment (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).

Barbell Squat

The classic squat. If you can only choose one of these squat exercises to do, then this is the one. From the classic 5×5 Workout Plan to the Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout Plan–pretty much every legitimate classic weight training workout incorporates the barbell squat.

Box Squat

If you have ever watched one of the Westside Barbell training sessions where it’s routine for insanely large men to squat insanely heavy weights until their noses start bleeding (literally) then you know that box squats can be tough.

Barbell Jump Squat

This is a great exercise for improving your vertical jump and becoming more explosive. The key here is to use relatively light weight and not be so proud that you just have to use the “big plates.”

Freehand Jump Squat

This is a great plyometric body weight squat exercise that completely removes from the equation the force your arms generate when jumping.

Barbell Front Squat

This is likely the second most popular barbell squat exercise (after the standard barbell “back” squat) and targets the quads, core, and stabilizers a little more than the regular barbell squat. Tip: flare your elbows up as high as possible and create a “shelf” on the meaty front part of your shoulders to rest the barbell.

Barbell Hack Squat

This can be a little bit of an awkward movement to master at first, especially if your arms are on the shorter side. One advantage to doing barbell hack squats is that it removes any pain associated with the spinal compression inherent with placing very heavy weights on your shoulders. You can think of this as almost like a “reverse deadlift movement.”

Split Squat Jump

This is a bodyweight plyometric movement that is kind of like the offspring of a lunge and a squat jump.

Overhead Barbell Squat

If I am being honest, this is probably the hardest squat for me personally to perform on this entire list. I have lifted weights for 15+ years and used to consider myself a fairly flexible person (my physical therapist referred to me as “hyper mobile” and I could come close to doing a full side squat without a whole lot of practice when I first started doing martial arts as a teenager) and yet I am absolutely horrible at performing overhead barbell squats with good form. Try these with a broomstick or unloaded barbell (and preferably someone watching who knows what they are doing) before attempting to go heavy on this exercise.

Bulgarian Dumbbell Split Squat

One word. Ouch. These hurt. The higher of a bench you use, the lower you go, and the further out you place your lead leg, the more these will hurt. If you have never done these before, then prepare yourself for some intense groin, hip, and glute muscle soreness for days to come.

Goblet Bulgarian Split Squat

You might think that these are so close to the previous exercise that they are not worth mentioning as a separate exercise. Think again. If Bulgarian dumbbell split squats hurt, then this goblet version really, really hurts. Holding a dumbbell (or a kettlebell, medicine ball, small animal/child, etc.) in the goblet position and maintaining perfect form throughout this exercise is very taxing on the core and stabilizer muscles. And oh yeah, your groin, glutes, hips, thighs, and quads are still screaming out with pain just like with the regular dumbbell version. Enjoy. (No hate mail please – you will notice that I do these too).

Smith Machine Squat

The Smith machine removes a lot of the stress that a normal squat will place on your stabilizer muscles. This is less than optimal for a lot of reasons, but Smith machine squats can still be a nice addition to your workout for some added variety. One added bonus is that you should be able to really pile the weight on, as these are much easier than the standard barbell squat.

Dumbbell Squat

The downside to dumbbell squats is that you can’t go super heavy (even if you are one of those guys that can curl the 100lb+ dumbbells up to shoulder level). The advantage to doing these is that it targets your stabilizers and leg muscles a little differently than they are likely used to with a standard squat.

Goblet Squat

The goblet squat can be performed with a dumbbell, medicine ball, or kettlebell. I really love goblet squats because they are a great exercise to force you into proper squat position. Is it the “single best lifting movement of all time,” as some claim? I wouldn’t quite go that far, but they are not to be underestimated.

Barbell Speed Squat

The same principles for the barbell back squat apply here although you will want to choose a lighter weight and perform the movement with proper form as quickly as you possibly can.

Barbell Side Split Squat

These are tricky, so don’t think that you should load up the barbell with a lot of weight until you get the hang of it. Please, please, please don’t be one of those guys that puts a bazillion pounds on the bar and then does half movement reps instead of doing the full range of movement. You are only cheating yourself if you don’t ease up on the weight and perform these for the full range of motion.

Frog Squat

This is another great bodyweight movement. The frog squat targets the inner thigh/groin area a little more than most squat exercises because of the wider stance that is required.

Machine Hack Squat

This is a step up from the leg press machine and a step down from the regular barbell squat. The ability to brace your back against the pad makes for easy work on your stabilizer muscles and allows for you to load up the machine with enough plates to really impress the people in your gym that don’t really know a whole lot about weightlifting. (If your pride is still hurt from using a broom or just the bar for the overhead dumbbell squats, then by all means give these a try next to make yourself feel a little better about yourself if you need to.)

Machine Jump Squat

While it’s never smart to load on a lot of weight when doing barbell jump squats, this rule of thumb doesn’t apply when it comes to machine jump squats.

Braced Squat

No bench, barbell, or dumbbells required. Grab a single weight plate and hold it straight out in front of you while squatting down into a full squat. This will really hit your core and shoulders in addition to your leg muscles.

Plie Dumbbell Squat

This is a squat that you can do in your basement even if all you have lying around is a few dumbbells.

One-Arm Overhead Kettlebell Squat

This requires a little bit of practice to get the form down exactly right. You can also use a dumbbell in a pinch although a kettlebell is ideal.

Bench Pistol Squat

Once you can perform these with perfect form then (and only then) try performing pistol squats without the bench for support. If you can perform these perfectly without a bench on your first try then you are either a competitive gymnast or just someone that is freakishly athletic, someone for whom the Superman Workout is likely a mere warm-up.

Bosu Ball Squat

Don’t mock these just because they require one those “half balls” that are used in many aerobic classes. You will find out pretty quickly if your balance isn’t where it should be. No cheating. Go all the way down below parallel into a full squat.

Swiss Ball Squat

OK, so you thought the Bosu Ball squats were easy, right? Now, try your balance out by performing some full squats while standing on a Swiss ball. Have fun. (You might not want to try these for the first time right in the middle of a crowded gym.)

Double Kettlebell Front Squat

Kettlebells are all the rage these days. Some kettlebell exercises seem so contrived as to be borderline ridiculous–more circus act than exercise. The double kettlebell front squat is not one of these. Give them a try and be sure to keep your core tight and maintain strict form.

Zercher Squat

This is a slightly more advanced version of the barbell front squat. Zercher squats will do a number on your core, even more so than front squats.

Dip Belt Squat

These are great for vertical jump training as well as taking the stress off of your back that tends to come with most other loaded squat variations.

Lying Machine Squat

Another machine squat that allows you to go up pretty heavy in weight while taking the stress off of your stabilizer muscles.

Siff Squat

This is a squat that you perform while staying on your toes the entire time. This is not an exercise that you want to use a lot of weight (if any) on, so take this one nice and easy.

Jefferson Squat

The Jefferson Squat might earn you a few strange looks at the gym but just don’t get so distracted by the onlookers that you bring the bar up too high at the top of the movement.

Skater Squat

The Skater Squat, like almost all single leg movements, is a great exercise for improving your balance and your flexibility.

Sissy Squat

So, does an exercise named the “Sissy Squat” really belong on any type of list on AOM? Try them out and then judge for yourself…

Roman Chair Squat

This exercise should actually trade names with the Sissy Squat because while the “Roman Chair Squat” has a much manlier sounding name, it’s really a very easy movement.

Keg Squat

Nothing is more manly than slinging a keg up onto your shoulders and banging out a few squat reps, right?

Sandbag Squat

The only thing that is possibly more manly than slinging a keg around and doing squats is bear hugging/wrestling a sandbag into position and performing squats. Bonus points if you use a sandbag that weighs as much as a grown man.

Know any other squat variations? Share them in the comments!


Joel Ohman is a serial entrepreneur, long time AOM reader (and past contributor), and co-founder of the social workout website Join him in the AOM workout group to compete on the leaderboard, find a workout plan, track your workouts, and have fun competing while seeing real results. Regular membership on is 100% free.

{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Matt November 30, 2011 at 7:14 pm

The gentleman in the Barbell Squat video does his squats shallow which isn’t proper form. Also, using a Smith Machine to do squats is a terrible idea because it reinforces bad form since there is no way to make the bar move in a natural way (such that it stays over the mid foot the entire time). Doing smith machine squats will end up hurting you in the long run.

2 squatter November 30, 2011 at 7:19 pm

The box squat you feature is a powerlifting (wider-than-shoulder-width foot placement, prime movers are the glutes and hams, knees never pass toes) box squat,done to a below-parallel box, sometimes with foam, sometimes with accommodating resistance (bands, chains, or both), sometimes with specialty bars (ssb, buffalo, cambered).

Please note that all the Westside lifters are either in briefs or suit bottoms.

Please also note that unless you’re being trained by someone who understands how to do a box squat correctly, you’re not going to see much benefit from grabbing a bench or some plyo blocks and trying to do this yourself. It’s not nearly as simple as, “squat until you sit on box, come back up”.

3 zeus November 30, 2011 at 8:21 pm

I’ve lifted weights since high school and all the squats mentioned are great excercises but if you want a great excercise that doesn’t require going heavy, try lunges.

4 Ethan Snyder November 30, 2011 at 9:13 pm

The Hindu Squat! The greatest wrestling excersise of all time. Can’t believe it didnt make the list

5 Charles Herring November 30, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Hindu Squat #1 on my list.

6 Chris November 30, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Glad to see squats get mentioned. from personal experience, the super squats program works. I’ve been powerlifting for a few years now (raw- belt only) and can’t speak highly enough of the properly performed squat. especially starting out remember “if its too heavy to squat below parallel, then its too heavy to have on your back.”

7 Mark November 30, 2011 at 11:19 pm

The example you used for the overhead squat is laughable. Just search for any legitimate olympic lifter performing this exercise if you want to see how it’s done.

8 Paul L November 30, 2011 at 11:55 pm

“snatch balance” and “drop snatches” are both awesome squatting variations as well. But they are advance techniques and should only be done if you are proficient at front squats and have a decent power snatch.

9 Hutch December 1, 2011 at 12:24 am

The only thing a smith machine is good for is draping a blanket over it and using it as a fort. I’ve been training for the tough mudder instead of powerlifting lately though, so I’ve been hitting up those goblet squats.

10 phreeB December 1, 2011 at 12:28 am


Thanks for this list of online videos of people performing squats, sometimes even poorly.

This is a million miles away from an

“ultimate squat guide”

In fact very recently I read something on this very blog about people promising much more than they deliver, regarding hidden knowledge such as “work out like a king”. There are a lot of good tutorial videos around. I think it would have been much better to have stuck with one or two simple squats and really gone over the form and a simple progression. I also remember reading “Effective learning must be done in degrees–each advancement is earned by the mastery of the previous step. Each concept builds on the other, until a person has acquired perfect knowledge.”

Surprised there isn’t mention of going from a prisoner squat to doing a box squat with each foot on a swiss ball….

I’m sorry, but I really have come to expect much better than this from your blog.

Looking forward to your next excellent post.

11 Joel - December 1, 2011 at 1:16 am


Maybe you missed the 2nd part in the title: “35+ Squat Exercises” as it sounds like you are instead looking for an article titled something like “How to Perform 2 Simple Squat Variations With Perfect Form and Progression” as you are suggesting. If that is what you are looking for then great but that is obviously not the intent of this article (as anyone can tell from the article title).

If that is indeed what you are looking for then you are in luck because there are actually a million and one different articles already in existence that explain simple squat form and simple progression. This ain’t that article though :)

12 Joel - December 1, 2011 at 1:22 am

@Ethan, @Charles Herring

Great suggestion! I should have included Hindu Squats. I remember looking at Hindu Squats when making this list and I don’t know why I didn’t put them on the list.

I think we have 97 different squat exercises on the site right now in our exercise finder and I know I weeded out quite a few because I wanted to give a broad cross section of different types of squats without too much overlap but Hindu’s would have made a good addition to the list.

Sorry about that. My bad.

13 Joel - December 1, 2011 at 1:26 am


I agree with you on the (lack of) usefulness of the Smith Machine. I personally have never done a Smith Machine Squat in my life and likely never will. Unfortunately, the Smith Machine is very popular in almost every gym, even used by a lot of trainers it seems, so I thought I should include the exercise because it’s popular (and not really bad for you per se but just not half as good as a regular squat or some of the others). I’m definitely on the same page with you though.

14 Joel - December 1, 2011 at 1:30 am


I think you are right on the lack of good form.

I would be the last person to referee on what is or isn’t good form for the Overhead Squat or some of the other more involved Olympic lifts because I have only tried the Overhead Squat a few times myself and I am absolutely horrible.

You are right though, I probably should have chosen a video from an actual powerlifting meet or something…

15 JDub December 1, 2011 at 6:09 am

The form on almost ALL of these exercises is TERRIBLE. The lifter rarely covered 50% of the range of motion.

Who decided that you only go to 90 degrees? FULL RANGE OF MOTION.

These squats are no different than “bench pressing” without letting the bar touch your chest.

Extremely disappointing post from AOM.

16 Dave December 1, 2011 at 7:42 am

I saw this in my RSS reader and came here to point out the horrible form in most of the videos. Glad to see the other gentlemen are already on it. The dumbbell squat guy is actually pretty good, with his hips below his knees at the bottom. The goblet squat guy is even better.

On a more positive note, I’m going to have to try the Bulgarian variations, they look fun.

17 Duran December 1, 2011 at 7:58 am

Comprehensive article on the best lift out there–the best bang for your buck in the gym. They can never get boring because of the variations available. A “breathing” squat routine also helps with cardio health. Thanks.

18 jonathan December 1, 2011 at 8:26 am

anybody else notice the “Real Jock: Gay fitness Community” on the prisoner squat video? Very happy fitness community?

19 Coach CBo December 1, 2011 at 8:57 am

Wow-, huh? If those are your models for a squat…then I don’t know what to say.

How did some of these make the list?!?! A SWISS BALL SQUAT?!!?!!?

If you want to get strong then squat…A LOT. back squat, front squat, box squat and do the olympic lifts frequently (and all their sub-parts). Keep the reps and sets low. if you really want to get strong quickly. It’d be awesome to see Mark Rippetoe or Louie Simmons to a guest post on here on how to REALLY get strong

20 Claude December 1, 2011 at 9:32 am

I’ve been lifting for about 25 years and I was unaware of some of these. Until recently I figured a squat was a squat so why try different forms of the same thing? I was wrong. Even the smallest variations can work different muscles or the same muscles differently. Thanks for this great post.

21 squatter December 1, 2011 at 1:32 pm

@JDub: At least for the Westside box squats, in powerlifting competitions, the criteria for a good lift is that the crease of the hip go below the top of the knee. No more, no less. The shorthand term for this is, “breaking parallel”. Ass-to-grass squat all you want, but realize that powerlifters are not required to do so.

Of course, you’d probably go apopleptic about the use of single- and multi-ply gear as well.

22 Tyler December 1, 2011 at 1:36 pm

If someone was looking for form take a look at “Starting Strength” as Coach CBo mentions above. One of my favorite hobbies is collecting & reading workout books and that is by far the best book I have read on proper form (it also includes bench press, overhead press, deadlift, & power clean). You’d think the form on these would be simple, but Rippetoe shows you there are tons of tiny details you need to take into account to get the most from your squats.

As far as squats not included, a really difficult one I am currently trying to up my reps on is the FULL pistol squat. Oh if you are insane like this guy (, you can do many variations with a kettlebell.

23 Joel - December 1, 2011 at 2:11 pm

@Coach CBo

Breaking parallel is all that is required for a regular barbell squat. I am guessing that you are referring to the proper form for a “Full Squat” where you are definitely correct: the butt should go down so far that the lifter is basically touching their butt to their achilles tendons almost. Some people, you included I am guessing, would make the case that “Full Squats” are the only real squat but technically speaking the true “regular” squat only needs to go to parallel.

Great advice on Starting Strength or anything by Rippetoe. I would second that for sure. I have read a lot of his stuff over on T-Nation also (another great resource).

The Swiss Ball Squat only made the list because it is a good exercise for working the stabilizer muscles and it is fairly advanced.

You mention “back squat, font squat, box squat, and Olympic lifts” which I would wholeheartedly agree with you in saying they are the best squat exercises but again this is a post titled “35+ Squat Exercises” and not “Top 5 Squat Exercises” or “How to Get a Strong Squat” or whatever else you are suggesting (there are many of those articles available online all over the place already).

24 phreeB December 1, 2011 at 2:37 pm


You are correct, it aint an article at all, it’s an annotated list.

It surely aint an “ultimate guide” for squat.

An ultimate guide might even go to the trouble of describing which of the 35 is most effective, or suitable for a given objective. What you’ve done here is compiled a dross list of online videos of exercises that approximate squats. Bosu balls? Really?

An article looks more like this:

But thanks for pointing out that there are many in depth guides and articles available. I have actually read and followed many of them. Of course when I blog that I read daily and respect highly posts what they claim to be an ultimate guide, you can only imagine my disappointment on finding this bunch of links.

I’m sure you worked very hard on it. I was trying to offer something constructive with my criticism. I think you would have been better off to go for quality rather than quantity in terms of the exercises you presented.

25 ASR December 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm

That is possibly the worst squat video you could have chosen. A high-bar, knees forward, wrist- and knee-murdering half-squat is not going to do any good for anyone. That video, and most of the ones you linked, make me cringe.

Notwithstanding my ardent desire to have more of humanity squat, and my truly held belief that all real men squat, I still sincerely disagree with this article. 35 squat exercises? Unncessary, and the videos especially are going to give people the wrong idea and probably lead to injury. Low bar squat, high bar Olympic squat, front squat, depending on your goals and programming. Start there.

Any man (or woman) who desires strength needs to understand that the squat is the best way to get it. To that end, if you’re new to this line of thinking, get Starting Strength and don’t look back. It’s a life-changer.

I love AoM, but I wish there was a little more discernment going on before publishing articles, especially some of the fitness/strength stuff.

26 JJ December 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I’m pretty sure AoM has published lots of lists before, like this for example, which I have to believe gave the guest poster inspiration for his post:

So I don’t know why the phree-meister has such a stick up his butt.

But I do agree that a lot of videos are crap and that weight training site looks really sh**ty.

27 Brandon December 1, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Good listing of squat related exercises, but I would just leave off the smith-machine, hack squat machine, and leg press machine ones. There’s nothing less manly than using an inferior and possibly harmful exercise to appear stronger (when you actually aren’t).

28 squatter December 1, 2011 at 3:32 pm

@Joel -
No, a regular squat must BREAK parallel. Just going TO parallel will get you three reds in competition. A good lift must break parallel.

29 Peter December 1, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Some variations I hadn’t seen, but I’m very surprised that you left out the pistol.

30 Max December 1, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Excellent article, a bit too much to go through at one time, though.

31 Grace December 1, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Zeus is on the money. Lunges after a gruelling set of squats does wonders to your body. 5×5 squats the 3-4 sets of walking lunges (20) with dumbbells in each hand. Packed on size with these 2 exercises alone. Boom! Squats are king!

32 Evilcyber December 1, 2011 at 9:27 pm

While the squat without a doubt is a great exercise, I wouldn’t encourage a beginner to try it out without guidance.

Executed wrong, squats can take a toll on your back, only noticeable when it’s too late and the damage done.

@squatter: When you go below parallel, you actually are training more your gluteus maximus (your butt), and not the quads, while the pressure on the knees is the highest in that position.

33 Joel - December 1, 2011 at 9:54 pm


The Pistol Squat is on the list (under “Bench Pistol Squat” where the recommendation is to first try the movement with a bench underneath for support before attempting it without the bench).

34 Hal December 1, 2011 at 10:26 pm


The point of doing squats through the full range of motion (past parallel, etc) is to strengthen more than just your quads. If you’re not feeling it in your butt cheeks, you’re not going low enough.

35 Nicholas December 2, 2011 at 1:35 am

Question for fellow squatters: do heels stay down or come up?

36 chrise2004 December 2, 2011 at 10:55 am

Wow most of these videos are terrible. Especially the guy in the ones from the vids and once over his barbell squat is terrrrrrrrrrrible. He isn’t going deep enough, he has terrible shoes on for it, and his toes aren’t even pointed out. I stopped watching the video the minute i saw his form.

If anyone wants to learn how to squat properly and do other old school lifts do yourself a favor and go to and check out Justin’s page. It’s top notch.

37 chrise2004 December 2, 2011 at 10:56 am

@ Nicholas, feet stay flat on the floor the entire time during barbell squat.

38 chrise2004 December 2, 2011 at 10:59 am

lol if I saw someone doing any type of squat or let alone any weight/strength training exercise on that ball I would die laughing. Leave the balancing act to clowns. I’m sorry but that ball is for stretching not for doing stupid lifts in a gym that could kill yourself.

39 Evilcyber December 3, 2011 at 1:13 pm

@Hal: The glutes are already involved at parallel. But if you worry about your glutes, then I’d say go for lunges, which are another great compound. They aim at the glutes with less stress for the knees than the deep squat and with more emphasis than the parallel squat.

40 Hal December 3, 2011 at 5:11 pm

I haven’t heard of any people who do deep squats properly that develop knee problems. If you allow your knees to collapse inward, sure you’ll have problems. Keeping your knees out will save your knees (and your lower back) a lot of problems.

41 Hal December 3, 2011 at 5:24 pm

I have yet to hear of anyone squatting deep with proper technique that developed knee problems, especially if they use a low-bar position (under the scapular ridge), learn to keep their knees out, and avoid trying to push more weight than they can handle.

42 Martin December 3, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Man I need to get back to the gym.

I was watching some Arnold vids recently, and that gave me the itch to get off my lazy ___.

Now seeing all these squat vids, I need to just do it!

I was thinking of which I can do while at home without weights too, for when I can’t make it to the gym, so thanks for the post.

43 Kevin December 3, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Hindu squats are an excellent bodyweight variation you can do for high reps.

44 Gerard December 3, 2011 at 9:31 pm

The fitness posts from Jedd of Diesel Crew were better IMO. Would love to see some posts by Dave Tate, Jim Wendler, Matt Wenning, or any of the EFS folks.

45 iStanski December 3, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Squat – single most important exercise one can do. I tried Super Squat program a while ago and it worked, only you have to be VERY dedicated and persistent. I also like pistols, Hindu squats, and sandbag bear-hug squats.

46 Aaron December 4, 2011 at 12:38 pm

47 Ken December 4, 2011 at 11:05 pm


The full range of motion should not be judged by the position of the butt. Your stop position should be when your calves touch your hamstrings because anything past that point starts to alter the pressure on your knees.

48 Matt December 5, 2011 at 10:27 am

I would like to win the Polar Man Tent.

49 squatter December 5, 2011 at 2:08 pm

@Ken -
If your calves are touching your hamstrings, you’re squatting too low (and probably doing Olympic squats, which are a waste of time anyway).

Set your feet wider than shoulder width, sit back, push your knees out, and break parallel. That’s a good squat. At least, it’s a good squat for real men. If you’re one of those sub-200lb “men” who think Crossfit is a good idea and think Vibram 5-fingers actually make you look manly, by all means, squat until your calves touch your hams. The rest of us will still think you’re just a hairy woman.

50 Hal December 5, 2011 at 8:37 pm

For what it’s worth, doing squats with a lifting belt is one hell of an ab workout.

51 ben December 5, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Please, take off any of the squats using a machine. They don’t belong in anybody’s workout routine.

Goblet squat, anyone?

52 Nick Archer December 6, 2011 at 1:18 am

This is overkill. The art of manliness is boiling things down to the nitty gritty. 35 different squats is not fundamental. I watched the first video and the guy doing the barbell squat had his knees going in front of his toes. Careful…

53 Mike December 6, 2011 at 2:24 am

I agree with Nick and Ben, keep things simple.

54 JPR December 7, 2011 at 7:22 pm

I am sad that the only place low bar squats were mentioned was by ASR and only in passing.

Go onto and check out low bar squats. I switched earlier this year and it is amazing! They are more comfortable and more dynamic. I won’t list the many virtues of the low bar squat but I insist that any person who cares about squats at least look into them and give them a try.

55 Brandon December 9, 2011 at 11:25 am

I know a lot of people have complained about the form of the instructional videos but I don’t see that as a big problem. If people want more information they can explore more, this article is just to start them off. My biggest complaint is that the first video comes from the ‘Real Jock: Gay Fitness Community’. Doesn’t seem to fit into the Art of Manliness very well.

56 Black guy December 9, 2011 at 9:46 pm

The Ultimate body squat is the Jump pistol squat

57 David December 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm

This list omitted one of my impromptu favorites: the person squat! Just grab a person, put them in a fireman’s carry, and get squatting!

58 Adam K Bice December 11, 2011 at 12:00 am

So glad that pistols are on this list. Nothing is more badass than a set of butt-to-ground pistols with a 50-lb kettlebell in front of you.

On that subject, if you’re starting off with pistols, and notice that you fall backward (onto your ass) when you try to go lower, holding 10-15 pounds in front of you can help counterbalance you enough to where you can develop your strength like a Spetsnaz soldier.

59 peter December 12, 2011 at 1:07 am

Steps to learn how to squat and get a stronger, more athletic body in the shortest amount of time possible:

1: go to
2: Buy the Book “Starting Strength” 3rd Edition
3: Read the Book and his free articles online in the references section.
4: Follow the Instructions to the T.
5: Your done

For overall conditioning, Kilgore’s “FIT” is the best book, it is very similar to starting strength but for endurance training and mobility training.

60 destructicus December 12, 2011 at 10:12 am

i watched the first 10 or so videos, and not one of them demonstrated proper form, your knee cannot pass over he tops of he toes, and shouldn’t move at all, if you do you put tremendous amount of force on delicate tendons and ligaments, watch some old Arnold lifting or anyone from the 70′s back after that people seem to have gotten lazy in there form.

61 harsh December 13, 2011 at 10:48 am

Is the machine hack squat any worse than free form barbell squat?
I feel doing barbell actually hurts me since it puts pressure in the wrong places not allowing me to work my legs to their full potential. Using the machine 95% of the work is done by the legs.

62 Hal December 14, 2011 at 9:51 pm

If the barbell versions of the squat hurt you, you either need someone to help with your form, or you’re using too much weight. The squat is not just for the legs. The whole point behind doing squats is working out a large portion of the body, and if you use a machine, you lose all the benefits and turn it into nothing more than a leg press. As for “full potential”, if you mean pushing as much weight as possible, then by all means use the machine. If you want to get the most out of the move, however, avoid the machine.

63 Mr. P December 19, 2011 at 11:13 am

Any suggestions for a man who has had a partial knee replacement? I am using my incline leg press but would like to do other squat exercises as long as I don’t blow the new knee. Thanks….

64 Hal December 19, 2011 at 10:44 pm


Keep in mind that I am not a doctor, I have never played one on TV, and I most certainly did NOT sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so take my recommendation with a large grain of salt.

Go with a low-bar back squat (opens up the knee angle at the bottom of the move, among other things), and start out with light weights and high reps. Listen to your body. It’ll tell you if you can start adding weight or not. You don’t need a lot of weight to get some benefit from the properly-executed move.

65 Billy December 28, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Hey the SMITH MACHINE is a great piece of training equipment! Wrap a chain around it and drag it around the parking lot for a killer workout!

66 theDonnybrook December 7, 2012 at 11:45 am

I am an inline speed skater, so squats are an important part of weight training for the sport. My two favorites that appear to have been left out were Poliquin Step-ups or heel-elevated squats ( and Curtsy Squats ( The Poliquin step ups are great for knees and building that inner quad muscle. The Curtsy is great for glutes and the outside of the thigh and hip.

67 YK May 5, 2013 at 4:40 pm

I suggest the Baby Squat. This is simply a bodyweight squat, but with a kid riding on your shoulders. It’s one thing with a two year old–something else entirely with a ten year old.

68 Rod Freeman April 14, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Can’t believe the Hindu Squat didn’t make it on the list. It’s probably the oldest recorded squat of all.

I’ve spent a lot of time working almost all of these squat variations at some point in my fitness regimen, but Hindu squats are the ones I always come back to.

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