Squats are some of the best exercises for working out your lower body. They target muscles in your thighs, lower leg, glutes, and hips and they require very little equipment to perform.
However, for some people, a simple squat isn’t enough to carry out some of the more intense workouts they desire. A regular squat will use a person’s entire body weight as the load for their muscles to bear but this restricts you to only being able to use that specific weight.
That’s where weighted squats come into play!
Of course, it’s important not to push yourself further than your body can handle to prevent injuries. However, there’s no reason why anybody can’t work some extra weights into their routine.
Best Technique For Squats
As with any exercise, there are some simple technical pointers you need to bear in mind to perform squats safely and maximize their benefits of them.
Simply place your feet about shoulder-width apart and bend your knees slowly so that you lower towards the ground. Once you’ve lowered yourself a sufficient distance, lift yourself back up and extend your knees back to a standing position but make sure you don’t fully lock them.
When performing squats, you should always try to keep your neck and back straight. Arching and bending your back is a sure-fire way to end up with a spine injury. This likely won’t happen at first but over time you’ll notice that this poor technique will result in a gradual pain building up in your back and neck.
Another important thing to consider is how deep to lower yourself at the halfway point of the squat. You shouldn’t go any lower than the point at which your spine loses its straightness and your hips begin to tuck under yourself.
These technical tips should be applied to absolutely any kind of squat, weighted or otherwise
Let’s take a look at the variety of different ways you can incorporate weights into your squats:
Single Dumbbell Squats
For this exercise, all you’ll need is a single dumbbell at whatever mass you want to add to your body weight.
The best way to do it is to hold the dumbbell in both hands, between your feet. You can also perform this technique with the dumbbell held at chest height. This adds a little bit more of a challenge for your upper body and will be slightly harder to properly balance while squatting.
Again, lower yourself as far as you can without arching your back, often when your knees reach a 90-degree angle.
You’ll then feel the added weight from the dumbbell as you push yourself back up towards a standing position.
This is one of the easiest weighted squats to perform correctly as there isn’t too much difference between this method and the process of carrying out a regular squat.
The other common way to add weight to your squats is to use a barbell. These are the weights that you see people using for bench presses and other arm-specific exercises. However, they can also be used to apply more weight to a lower-body exercise like a squat.
For this technique, you’ll need to balance the barbell just above your shoulders, being careful not to have it resting on the top of your spine. You basically want to have the weight sitting on the fleshy part of your shoulders, without having it uncomfortably pressing down on any bones.
Alternatively, you can perform a front barbell squat, for which you’ll have to rest the weight in front of your shoulders. This way, the weight is placed more heavily on the tops of your arms at the point where your biceps meet the shoulder.
This is a good way to try a barbell squat if you want to focus more on your quad muscles. That’s because the center of gravity will be slightly further forward, putting slightly more of a strain on the quads.
Once you’ve found that sweet spot, the rest of the process is exactly the same as any other type of squat. Try to maintain the correct posture throughout the squat and take it a little slower at first as it can be trickier to balance when using a barbell.
One of the biggest benefits of using this method is that you can easily adjust the weight on a barbell to make your workout more or less intense as you desire.
Similarly, a sandbag allows you to enjoy a different way of squatting and provides an easy way to develop your power and endurance. It is an inexpensive addition to your gym, but is guaranteed to last you a long time. For high-quality and durable sandbags, check out our list of the best workout sandbags with handles here.
Weighted Wall Sits
Wall sits aren’t quite the same as a squat but they do utilize a similar type of movement. To perform one, simply lean against a wall and lower your butt down until your knees are at a 90-degree angle from it.
Instead of lifting yourself back up to a standing position and repeating the movement, you’ll want to hold this position for a much longer period of time, maybe 30-60 seconds.
You can add weights to this exercise pretty easily by holding any kind of mass on your thighs while in the sitting position. You shouldn’t use barbells for this or any kind of weight that will apply pressure to a single point on your legs.
Instead, use the barbell weights, which are flat disks that will disperse the pressure point across the whole of your thighs.
In terms of technique for wall sits, you’ll again want to keep your neck and back as straight as possible to avoid injury. This is much easier to do with this method because the wall gives you a nice, flat surface as a guide for how straight your back should be.
Hopefully, you now have a much better insight into the different methods for adding weight to your squats.
Of course, most of these methods rely on you having access to some proper gym equipment but there’s no reason you can’t use other household objects to carry out the same techniques, as long as they are well balanced and safe to use.
Weighted squats is a great way to build up the intensity of your workout. In addition to weights, you can add variety to your routine by getting the best glute machines that will not only work your glutes, but will also develop your core strength and good posture.
If you can’t perform many reps at first, do not be discouraged. Just like with any workout exercise, the key to improvement is practice and dedication!