Squats are a difficult exercises to perform correctly, but can be one of the most valuable assets in your belly fat burning program.
A correctly executed squat will engage a significant proportion of your body's muscle mass. In order to successfully burn fat you need to focus on exercises that trigger a larger volume of muscular work, delivering increased calorie burning during and after a workout is completed.
Squats, with sufficient intensity, result in a large volume of muscle breakdown. Your body needs to work harder to recover and repair the damage inflicted during this exercise. A corresponding boost in your resting metabolic rate occurs in the hours and days after you have finished your training session.
Not only that, squats are a wonderful exercise for adding lean muscle to your frame. Incorporating some of the squat variations below in your training will provide better overall tone and make you look, feel and function better.
Before you start squatting...
Before we jump into a few of the best squat alternatives you've just got to try, here are a few really quick reminders to make sure you're performing your squats correctly and safely.
- Squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor - This will ensure you activate all the relevant muscles and not 'cheating' on this exercise.
- Make sure knees don't go past your toes. Keep you back straight and bottom out to avoid moving your knees forward.
- Be careful not to arch your back - ensure your head is up and core muscles flexed throughout the entire movement.
Ok, without further ado let's look at 10 wonderful squat variations for belly fat burning.
1. Body-weight Squat
We'll start off simple. Body weight squats are a nice simple introduction if you need to build up strength before adding weight, or if you don't have access to a barbell or dumbbells.
Just stand up straight, feet shoulder width apart. Bend your knees and squat backwards as if sitting into a chair. Contract your leg and butt muscles to slowly return to a standing position.
2. Jump Squat
A progression of the bodyweight squat is adding a jump on the upward movement. Simply engage the core and jump explosively as you move up from a squatted position. Try to land in a quiet controlled manner.
3. Pistol Squat
Pistol squats take a bit of practice. They can be performed using just bodyweight, or with a dumbbell or kettlebell as counterbalance. The pistol squat is a single leg variation of the squat where the non working leg is held in front and parallel to the floor. Check out a beginners progression for pistol squats in the video below.
4. Back Barbell Squat
Place the barbell on your shoulders with feet body width apart. Bend your knees and squat until they create a 90 degree angle, thighs parallel to the floor. Contract your glutes, quads and hamstrings to slowly return to the starting position. I would recommend you start off using a slightly lighter weight until you have mastered the movement pattern.
5. Goblet Squat
The Goblet squat is a fantastic two in one exercise. Not only does it include a wonderful squat, but the dumbbell or kettlebell press engages the upper body and increases total muscle recruitment.
Stand shoulder width apart with your dumbbell in two hands. Move into squat position. As you stand, press the dumbbell overhead until arms are straight.
6. Front Squats With Barbell
Front squats require a more upright posture and thus emphasize the quadriceps and upper back more than back squats. They also require greater core stabilisation to complete the movement.
Place the barbell on the front of your shoulders, hands on top of the bar, or using an underhand grip as demonstrated below. Arms should be parallel to the ground. Complete the squat movement in a slow and controlled manner.
7. Squat Curl To Press
The squat with biceps curl and overhead press is perhaps one of the most efficient exercises available. In a short period of time it works a phenomenol number of muscle groups.
Start the movement with a dumbbell in each hand, legs shoulder width apart. Perform a deep squat and during the upward movement perform a biceps curl to your shoulders. Finally push the dumbbells overhead into a shoulder press and then lower to the starting position.
8. Squat Box Jump
Box squat jumps are an explosive movement, similar to the jump squats we discussed earlier. They provide a solid workout for both hammy's and hip flexors. If you're a little older or less agile than you used to be, you may wish to master jump squats before progressing to the box version.
9. Wall Squat
Wall squats are another popular exercise if you are working out in the comfort of your home. Sit with you back against the wall, feet shoulder width apart and a couple of feet in front of you. Hold the pose for up to a minute, or longer if you can.
10. Squat Press With Barbell
This exercise combines the front squat exercise with an overhead press. It not only effetively works the thighs, hamstrings and gluteal muscles in the leg, it also activates the deltoids, trices and biceps to provide a top class workout.
Stand in the front squat starting position. Complete a full squat, and at the end of the upward movement press the barbell overhead until arms are extended.