6 Squat Variations for Injury Prevention

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Squats are not an exercise you want to skip. They target many of the major muscles used in running, such as the quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and core. Strengthening these major muscle groups may prevent injury by supporting and stabilizing the joints around them. The squat, in particular, focuses on the knee and hip joints, two of the major joints involved in running.

There are a variety of different squat exercises that may contribute to injury prevention. Further, mixing it up can prevent plateaus from occurring and challenge your muscles in a whole different way. The following outlines 6 squat variations, starting with the basics, for you to mix up your leg routine starting today.

The Basic Squat

Before trying any one-legged squat exercises, it is important to ensure you have proper form for the basic squat. Mixing things up before you’re ready can result in more harm than good.

How To:

  1. Stand with proper posture and with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Maintain a straight posture and stick out your buttocks, as you bend your knees and squat down.
  3. Slowly push up through the heels back to start.
  4. Repeat 10 times for 2-3 sets.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Contract the core and maintain a straight posture throughout the entire duration of the exercise.
  • Make sure the knees do not track over the big toes. Stick your butt out to ensure this does not happen!
  • To progress the basic squat, add a barbell with weight to the exercise.

One-legged Squat

The one-legged squat, also called a pistol squat, specifically places the focus on one leg at a time. It is more challenging from the basic squat but can be the next level up if you are finding the basic squat isn’t doing it anymore.

How To:

  1. Stand on one leg with your knee slightly bent. Your arms can be outstretched in front for balance.
  2. Slowly lower into a squat, sticking your butt out and bending your knee.
  3. Slowly push through the heel back up to start.
  4. Repeat 10 times for 2-3 sets.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Squat down lower to increase the difficulty of this exercise.
  • Make sure to keep the knee in line with the rest of the body. Try not to have it collapse inward.
  • Gently contract the core to maintain a straight posture and protect the low back during the exercise.

 

Wide-legged Squat

Adding a wider stance to your squat can target the inner part of the thighs and groin. It can strengthen these areas reducing the risk of injury to those areas.

How To:

  1. Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart.
  2. Slowly lower into a squat, sticking your butt out and bending your knees.
  3. Slowly push through the heels back up to start.
  4. Repeat 10 times for 2-3 sets.

Tips & Tricks

  • Gently contract the core to maintain a straight posture and protect the low back during the exercise.
  • Make sure your knees do not track over your toes.
  • To progress, add a weight or barbell.

Squat with Overhead Press

Bored of the same old squat? Combine two in one in this squat exercise. Balance is important. For a runner, it is important to strengthen major muscles in the legs. However, upper body conditioning is important for overall balance and stability. The overhead press is the addition in this squat variation.

How To:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Lower down into a squat, sticking your butt out and bending the knees.
  3. Push through the heels back up to start.
  4. At the same time, bend the elbows up to shoulder height and raise both arms straight up.
  5. Lower your arms and repeat.
  6. Do 10 repetitions for 2-3 sets.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Maintain a straight posture and gently contract the core throughout the exercise.
  • When lifting the arms straight up start with the pinkies facing forward and slowly turn the palms to face forward. Do the reverse on the way back down. This will prevent impingement injuries from occurring in the shoulder.

Jump Squat

The jump squat is a plyometric variation on the basic squat. It can add a cardio aspect to your squat workout.

How To:

  1. Stand with a straight posture and with your feet hip width apart.
  2. Slowly lower down into a squat, bending your knees and sticking your butt out.
  3. Push down through the heels and jump as high as you can.
  4. Return to start.
  5. Repeat 10 times for 2-3 sets or for 30 seconds to 1 minute at a time.

Tips & Tricks:

  • If you are looking for an interval styled workout, the jump squat can be thrown in between sets of other exercises to bump that heart rate up.
  • Ensure you are contracting the core and keeping the knees from tracking over the toes.

Squat and Kick

The squat and kick exercise specifically targets the glutes. The glutes help maintain proper form and hip and leg alignment.

How To:

  1. Stand with a straight posture and with your feet hip width apart.
  2. Slowly lower down into a squat, bending your knees and sticking your butt out.
  3. Push through the heels to come back up.
  4. At the same time, transfer your weight to one leg and kick the opposite leg back.
  5. Return to start.
  6. Repeat 10 times for 2-3 sets, alternating legs for the kickback.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Contract the core throughout the exercise to maintain proper posture.
  • Squeeze the glutes when kicking back with one leg.

Bonus tip: Complete the above exercises in front of a mirror. The mirror can be great feedback in determining whether or not you are maintaining proper form throughout the exercises. Include the above squat variations in your exercise routine starting today. They can mix up your regular routine and may aid in the prevention of running injuries.

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Melissa

About Melissa

Melissa is the Community and Content Marketing Manager at Lumo Bodytech. She spends her free time reading, doing karaoke, and training for her next triathlon.

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