7 Squat Progressions You Need to Know

Updated: Nov 29, 2019

Squatting is one of the essential movements in training. From the regular Joe to the professional athlete. In this post, I will share 7 Squat progressions. These variations are what I typically use to regress and progress my clients based on where they are in training and technique progression.


When we program or walk into the gym and we have squats for the day, we typically jump to the squat racks and put a bar on our back. When I was just starting as a personal trainer, I put people under the bar without any thought of any prerequisites they needed. I have done it to myself too, I have injured my low back years ago trying to squat heavy weights with horrible form and using wrong ques and the wrong shoes.


Before doing any of these movements, I would recommend to always assess your mobility and flexibility in the muscles and joints that are going to be used. Having poor mobility will increase the risk of injury and technique breakdown.


A good base of strength and technique can and will go a long way. So, don’t be afraid to take one step back so you can take two steps forward.


WALK BEFORE YOU RUN


SQUAT PROGRESSION

1) Box Squat

2) Counterbalance Squat

3) Goblet Squat

4) Double Kettlebell Squat

5) Front Squat

6) SSB Squat

7) Back Squat


BOX SQUAT

Step 1: Stand in front of a box or chair that is knee height with feet around shoulder width apart

Step 2: Push your knees slightly out to open your hips.

Step 3: While keeping your body weight on your midfoot and a neutral spine, slowly lower your hips straight down towards the box/chair.

Step 4: As you reach the box/chair sit back while keeping your weight on your midfoot.

Step 5: To get back up, lean forward so that your shoulders are above your midfoot and your butt slightly off the box/chair.

Step 6: As you feel your weight balance on your midfoot, push the ground away with your legs while keeping your chest forward.

Step 7: As you come up, keep your weight midfoot and as you extend your knees squeeze your glutes.


COUNTERBALANCE SQUAT

Step 1: Stand feet around shoulder width apart while holding weight in front of you

Step 2: Push your knees slightly out to open your hips.

Step 3: While keeping your body weight on your midfoot and a neutral spine, slowly lower your hips straight down.

Step 4: As you reach the parallel pause.

Step 5: As you come up, keep your weight midfoot and as you extend your knees squeeze your glutes.




GOBLET SQUAT

Step 1: Stand feet around shoulder width apart while a kettlebell around the horns.

Step 2: Keep your back tight by squeezing your shoulder blades together.

Step 3: Push your knees slightly out to open your hips.

Step 4: While keeping your body weight on your midfoot and a neutral spine, slowly lower your hips straight down.

Step 5: As you reach the parallel pause.

Step 6: As you come up, keep your weight midfoot and as you extend your knees squeeze your glutes.



DOUBLE KETTLEBELL SQUAT

Step 1: Stand feet around shoulder width apart while resting 2 kettlebells on your wrist and forearms at a neutral position with fingers interlocked.

Step 2: Keep your back tight by squeezing your shoulder blades together.

Step 3: Push your knees slightly out to open your hips.

Step 4: While keeping your body weight on your midfoot and a neutral spine, slowly lower your hips straight down.

Step 5: As you reach the parallel pause.

Step 6: As you come up, keep your weight midfoot and as you extend your knees squeeze your glutes.


FRONT SQUAT


Step 1: Stand under a bar and have it rest on the crease of your shoulder and collarbone.

Step 2: Keep your elbows and shoulder alight and back tight by squeezing your shoulder blades together.

Step 3: Push your knees slightly out to open your hips.

Step 4: While keeping your body weight on your midfoot and a neutral spine, slowly lower your hips straight down.

Step 5: As you reach the parallel pause.

Step 6: As you come up, keep your weight midfoot and as you extend your knees squeeze your glutes.


SAFETY SQUAT BAR (SSB) SQUAT

Step 1: Stand under a bar and have it rest on your traps.

Step 2: Hold on to the handles and pull it towards you.

Step 3: Keep your back tight by squeezing your shoulder blades together.

Step 4: Push your knees slightly out to open your hips.

Step 5: While keeping your body weight on your midfoot and a neutral spine, slowly lower your hips straight down.

Step 6: As you reach the parallel pause.

Step 7: As you come up, keep your weight midfoot and as you extend your knees squeeze your glutes.


BACK SQUAT

Step 1: Stand under a bar and have it rest on your traps.

Step 2: Pull the bar on your traps by keeping your lats tight and bending the bar on your back.

Step 3: Keep your back tight by squeezing lats and your shoulder blades together.

Step 4: Push your knees slightly out to open your hips.

Step 5: While keeping your body weight on your midfoot and a neutral spine, slowly lower your hips straight down.

Step 6: As you reach the parallel pause.

Step 7: As you come up, keep your weight midfoot and as you extend your knees squeeze your glutes.


Key Notes:

13) Keep your weight midfoot.

14) Keep a neutral spine.

15) Brace your core during the whole movement.


To progress to each movement, assess your technique and understanding of the movement. Once it is at an optimal level, move on to the progressed movement. If you do progress and find that it is too difficult or your technique still breaks down, regress and assess again. A safe goal to progress the goblet and double kettlebell squats is to use ½ to equal your bodyweight in external load for 3 sets of 10 reps with good form.


Always assess and reassess your technique and form as you improve.


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