There are a lot of people in the gym that I see and have spoken to that generally do the same exercises over and over again. They will change their routine but generally pick from a small list of exercises that they will always include. This is not a massive error in training but you will see a lot of benefit from changing the exercises that you use and even the way in which you do the same exercises. In this article I am going to show you that you can do an exercise or movement pattern in a huge amount of different ways to hit the muscle more effectively. Each movement pattern will work a muscle in a certain way. The things you can do to change the exercise whilst still performing the same movement pattern is to change the direction of resistance, the position of your body, the type of equipment used and many other factors.
So if you are doing the same exercises in the same way then I recommend for the benefit of your training progress I urge you to try some of the following alterations.
I will show you how to alter a number of different exercises so that you can perform some great variations on them. The exercise we are going to look at today is the squat. The squat is one of the key fundamental exercises. It works every muscle in the leg as well as quite a few in the upper body. It requires a great degree of core stability and technique to perform correctly. It is in my opinion one of the best exercises for gaining muscle and strength as it will release a great amount of hormones and testosterone when preformed to near maximum exertion.
So how can we vary this exercise to work the muscles slightly differently whilst still maintaining the benefit of the movement pattern?
First lets take a look at the exercise:
As you can see the squat being demonstrated here by leg legend Tom Platz. It is the single best leg exercise that you can perform to develop size and strength. You will hit the quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves. To do a full squat, in my opinion, you have to go down below parallel and right back up to near lockout. If you re doing higher rep squats it is good to not lock your knees out as this puts strain on the joint. Its also good to not quite go all the way to the top of the rep as this will keep tension on the target muscles.
So now we need to change things up a bit. The first and most simple thing we can do is change the bar position:
all of these variations will hit the legs in slightly different ways. The front squat is extremely useful for anyone in weightlifting and wants to practice and improve cleans. the front squat will put more strain on the quads than a back squat and will also put less pressure on the erector spinae muscles.
The overhead squat is great practice for doing snatches. It is also great to develop shoulder and chest flexibility, balance, coordination and core strength.
The zercher squat is an unusual exercise that you don’t see many people doing as heavy weights can be uncomfortable on the arms. It is a nice variation in my opinion and is good for lighter sets later in the workout to burn out some extra reps.
Now that we have had a look at different bar positions lets take a look at using some different equipment to the bar:
Swiss ball squat:
Smith machine squat:
So as you can see you don’t have to use a bar to do your squats. There are lots of other pieces of equipment you can use to do them.
Finally I will show you some other variations that you can try to put in your routine. There is no reason to say that you cant do a number of these in the same routine. They will hit the legs slightly differently so would be good to do together.
Pistol squat variations:
Squat jumps –