The foundation of any squat movement. Completed in an unloaded environment this is a generally safe movement and can both expose and help develop flexibility and strength through a full range of motion in the hips, ankles, and knees.
Assisted squat hold
Perfect for the deconditioned athlete or those recovering from an injury. This helps build flexibility, and strength in a controlled and safe environment. Can be used as a great warm up too!
Bodyweight squat jump
This is the first introduction into learning how to decelerate mass. With a bodyweight only option this allows us to see if there is sound control in the “landing” phase of the movement. It’s also a great drill to use with athletes needing to work on foot position with the Olympic lifts.
Varying heights allow us to choose the right fit for ourselves and our athletes. This combines the element of explosive power while working a deceleration phase as well with a bit of accuracy unlike the squat jump. Learning how to utilize your upper body is also a bonus when it comes to motor control and body awareness.
Establishing a proper depth that allows for all other points of performance can both help athletes find and build strength in a specific range of motion. It’s also a great option for those dealing with any hip or knee issues to automatically limit the range of motion when required. If “pausing” on the box it can help build explosive strength as well.
Box step down
The box step down can be a great way to help athletes understand single leg control and show any imbalances or favoritism. Starting with going to the toe will limit range of motion a bit and allow for athletes to have more control at the end range of motion. Transitioning then to only the heel touching will increase the full range of motion. This is a great tool to see if athletes have the strength for single leg control required for the working leg in a pistol.
The need for deceleration increases when we start to add height or in this case distance in our jump. It often also requires the need for proper foot position allowing athletes to land in a deep squat. Again, a great way to build explosive power and athleticism, especially in younger athletes that are not yet ready for the complexity of the barbell in Olympic lifts.
Depending on the height and unloaded vs. loaded this is going to require the most from us when it comes to decelerating ourselves along with any external object. It can be an excellent way to help us identify if we or others are ready for more ballistic movements like the Olympic lifts and their variations.
Double Kettlebell Front Rack Squat
When holding a true front rack position this increases the athletes need for posterior chain strength. Especially the upper back. It can also place more demand on flexibility in the hips but is a great alternative if there are issues with a traditional front rack with a barbell.
This is a killer drill for those looking to work on speed and foot position that will apply to the split jerk. We introduce the need for deceleration and added demond for single leg stability here. Drilling both dominant and non dominant sides has added benefits on motor control development and athleticism.
Adding in forward momentum creates the need to decelerate and control the weight unlike our other variations. Some may prefer “traveling” in their lunging due to the feeling of momentum which should be noted.
Holding a true front rack position will transfer into any clean variation and force a more upright torso in the squat. Loading will be limited comparatively to the back squat and the option to “bail” when there is no spotting option provides a safe alternative to other squat variations.
Front foot elevated split squat
Elevating the front foot increases the range of motion requirements on the front leg. This is a necessary addition in order to help athletes reach a full range of motion at the hip where the hip crease would be below the knee.
Front foot elevated split squat hold
Adding in the elevation of the front foot requires more flexibility in the hip with the working leg and can provide us with a more posterior chain focused movement. These could potentially show us the beginning requirements for a movement like a pistol for the working leg.
A simple and effective way to introduce loading without the use of a barbell. The goblet squat shows the capacity to control loading through a full range of motion in the squat, develop strength, and in some cases help counterbalance, helping to create a more upright torso.
High bar back squat
The high bar position allows more loading than our front squat variation and often transfers well to our Olympic Lifts. Those looking to develop capacity there should choose this option to help build significant leg and midline strength compared to the other squat variations.
Jump switch lunge
Again, benefits from the drop and jumping lunge carry over. The split lunge now takes into account athleticism, balance, and motor control from both dominant and non dominant sides. These can be a great strength or conditioning tool depending on the goal you are looking to accomplish.
Jumping front foot elevated split squat
Elevating the front foot simply increases our range of motion with the working leg. We can drive out of a true knee below the hip position which can correlate to our regular squat.
The same benefits of our drop lunge carry over here but with the added requirement for explosive power. The increase in height on the jumping phase also adds in more demand for decelerating our mass.
Jumping rear foot elevated split squat
Elevating the rear foot now places much more demand on the working leg for both deceleration along with stability and accuracy. These are a great tool for those playing field sports looking for serious single leg strength and stability when it comes to a foundation for lateral movements.
This ballistic jumping variation can be an excellent way to help athletes learn how to reach hip extension in a vertical manner. The need to drive up and land with feet in a proper squat position carries over nicely to all Olympic lift variations.
Low bar back squat
The low bar position brings the bar closer to our center of mass, therefore often allowing the most substantial amount of loading. Those looking to develop the most posterior chain strength that can potentially carry over to the deadlift should look to this option. It doesn’t not require as upright of a torso as the high bar squat and allows for hip drive out of the bottom of the squat.
The increase in the lever arm while holding the barbell overhead requires more demand on the midline and particularly shoulder flexibility and stability. This should only be done when flexibility allows for proper position and is the gateway to athletes learning the fundamentals of the snatch.
The pistol generally requires the most flexibility of any of the movements listed above. Interestingly, it can also be the most limited when it comes to external loading due to these requirements. The value of single leg strength can be accomplished in a variety of ways and a pistol is simply one of them.
Pistol Squat Hold from elevated box
Benefits of this isometric variation show us if we meet both the flexibility and strength requirements needed for the working leg, AND take out the need for that in the non working leg. This easily allows us to identify if the issue of the bottom of the pistol is with the working leg, or with the “non working” when performing a regular pistol.
Pistol Squat Hold from floor
Again, a true open chain movement assuming that the “non working” leg is off the floor! This shows us the capacity to hit end range of motion in the pistol which requires hip and ankle flexibility on the working leg and hamstring flexibility and hip flexor strength on the “non working” leg. Perfect for warming up for the full movement.
Rear foot elevated split squat
Some call this a Bulgarian Split Squat and if it sounds like that you know it’s tough! These are often one of the most beneficial single leg movements for those looking to develop strength. They both allow for significant loading on the working leg while still providing an element of balance with the non-working leg. They also require significant flexibility in the hip for the working leg… we should all likely do these more often!
Rear foot elevated split squat hold
The elevation of the rear foot will require more flexibility in the hip with the trail leg. This can help identify any limitations or imbalances we may see in other lunge variations as well as force us to have more loading on the working leg depending on the height of the rear foot.
By requiring a start and finish position now we are asking our working leg to take on more of a role. The reverse variation is often easier on many athletes knees due to there being less stretch in the hip with the trail leg. These are great for the benefit of single leg work and building confidence for more single leg variations down the road.
Single leg box jump
Varying heights can make this more or less difficult. It can also show us limitations with motor control from one leg to another along with general coordination. Depending on the height there is an increase in speed that is required for this movement.
This variation allows us to have a true open chain movement. The rear foot being elevated and working leg requiring significant strength and balance capabilities makes this an excellent tool for even advanced athletes. Field sports requiring single leg strength and stability can benefit from this simple but challenging movement.
This introduces a true open chain movement requiring both single leg strength and stability along with balance. Both the hip and knee will be working hard to show this capacity and these are an excellent tool for single leg strength development that won’t put as much stress on the knee as a traditional pistol.
An often underestimated and underutilized movement this is a great way to build single leg strength in a more controlled environment and even has the potential to see significant loading. Some research shows that developing significant single leg strength provides less loading on our spine and can be just as beneficial if not more than the bilateral variations. Food for thought!
Split squat hold
The increased range of motion shows added requirements for flexibility and strength at a full range of motion. These are also a great drill for those looking to create more consistency, confidence and even strength in the movements like the split jerk.
Staggered stance hold
The staggered stance provides us with an introduction into single leg work. These can help show imbalances in both single leg and hip strength/control. Showing favor both in the hold or as athletes return to a neutral position can help us gain further insight into any potential imbalances.
Often much more difficult than they appear, this squat variation shows the requirement for an increase in speed. Individuals need both the explosive power to meet a required height along with the speed to tuck the knees to the chest before landing. Also a great alternative to assist in building explosive power without the use of a barbell or weights. The athleticism can apply well toward field sports as well.
One of the best tools to help develop awareness and strength in the posterior chain when it comes to the squat. These should generally be performed in a slow and controlled environment to get the most out of the movement.
Weighted Kneeling Jump
One of our personal favorites for those looking to change things up. Again, these achieve the same goal as our unloaded variation but they also create more demand for explosive power and speed. They are an excellent alternative for athletes looking to build these areas that may be dealing with an upper body injury or limitation.
Weighted box jump
Adding loading to the box jump is recommended for only a select few. The need for explosive power, strength to decelerate, and accuracy with the added loading create a challenging movement. They can still create loads of explosive power without needing significant loading like some of our squat or Olympic lifting variations. Less taxing on the CNS and still extremely beneficial.
Weighted seated box jump
The seated variation eliminates the ability to use the stretch reflex aspect of the movement. These can be done unloaded or loaded. Learning how to accelerate and produce power from a dead stop often leads to improved performance in those movements that provide a more dynamic start.
Weighted squat jump
Simply increasing loading to our traditional squat jump can challenge even the most seasoned athletes. You can easily adjust the loading, adjust the demand and meet varying needs of a stimulus you are looking to create.
The use of a barbell allows us the potential to have more loading in the frontal plane. It also requires a more upright torso, teaches us to avoid hip drive out of the bottom of the squat when needed, and develops back strength that applies to all other squat variations.