The Best Squat Variation You're Not Doing!
The barbell squat is considered the king of lower body exercises, known for building tremendous strength and muscle development in the legs. The squat mainly targets your Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings and Core and potentially allows you to add a high amount of weight onto your body. This then resulting in strength and musculature gains. But is it a necessity in your programme?
You will hear from a lot of people that the barbell squat is a must in your routine but I disagree. I agree that it will be a highly effective exercise in attaining strength and musculature development but I don’t think it’s a necessity and here is why.
For a long time I was under the misconception that you needed to squat heavy in order to build big legs. For someone who suffered with chicken legs it sounded like the perfect exercise for me. So I started hitting heavy squats hard for a very long time in order to seek these gains. However like most people my squat technique sucked, I lacked the mobility in my ankles and hips, plus I didn’t really enjoy a heavy weight pressing down on me. So I cut them from my routine and focused on other leg exercises and squat variations I enjoyed. This then lead me to developing my legs more than ever before.
One of those exercises being Bulgarian Split Squats, a great alternative to barbell squats. For Bulgarian Split Squats you elevate one foot on a platform behind you and squat with the front leg only. The Bulgarian Split Squats works the exact same muscles as the barbell squat, Quads, Glutes, Hamstring and Core. The benefits of the split squats are:
No heavy weights are required on your shoulders (you can still achieve your goals with less weight).
One leg is worked at a time helping even out any imbalances.
Builds greater balance and core stability due to being on one leg as apposed to two.
Still builds awesome strength and musculature.
Help improve hip and ankle mobility.
Easy to change stance in order to target other muscles more, I.e Hamstrings and Glutes over Quads.
Personally I feel split squats work my muscles more than I do barbell squats, which could be down to the fact I enjoy them more. This is something I always try to point out to my clients that have done exercises they don’t enjoy. If you don’t enjoy it theres no place for it in your programme no matter how good of an exercise it is. The reason I believe this is because from experience I put a lot more effort and focus into the exercises that I do enjoy. In return this gave me better results, rather than performing the ones I didn’t. Lets say you hate barbell squats but you do them because someone said you must. You go into the squats half assed every time because you don’t really enjoy them, resulting in you not lifting much weight. However you love the leg press and can't wait to see how much weight you can lift for your desired reps. You will develop more strength and muscle from the leg press simply because you put more effort in on that exercise.
If you enjoy squats, your technique is good and you see progress from doing them of course stick to it, it’s an awesome exercise. But if you are doing it just because you think its a good idea, I recommend trying split squats instead they are a great alternative.
Don’t get me wrong its definitely a love hate relationship with split squats, I hate them because they destroy my legs and challenge me, but I enjoy them (after the tears have stopped…… just kidding……kind of).
Even if you do enjoy squats I still urge you to find a place and try Bulgarian Split Squats in your routine. But remember if you don’t enjoy them, don’t do them.
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