Are you looking for a beginner squat workout? If you are not sure how to get started, here is a simple squat routine for beginners.
Of course, it is easier said than done, but you already know how tough the squat is. And for that reason, the squat is one of the most effective strength training exercises you can do.
Whether you want to compete in powerlifting or get fitter, the squat is a fundamental compound movement.
So, check out this beginner squat workout for your training program – Credit to Ray Padilla of eps_training. I use it myself and think it is awesome.
Warm up on an elliptical or treadmill for 5 minutes.
Do a few sets of leg curls to pump some blood to your knees. You especially want to do this if you have a torn meniscus (like yours truly). Do not forget to warm up your body before starting squats or any other exercise program.
Last do some self myofascial release on your hamstrings, calves and quads. When you start doing your squat sets, you will feel better than ever.
Next, build up a sweat with the following squat related exercises:
Farmers Walk in Place
- Hold a 30 lb kettle bell close to your shoulder
- Brace and keep your upper body tight, just like when you squat
- Raise left arm parallel to floor
- Walk in place with knees high up for 30 seconds
- Alternate with the Lateral Step and Squat
Lateral Step and Squat
- Lateral step and squat while wearing hip circle just below the knees
- Start in your normal squat stance
- Push off with foot
- Lateral step and squat while pushing out on the bands
Do 4 farmer walks and 3 lateral step and squat to warm up.
Now you can go to the power rack
Power Rack Set Up
- Do a squat warm up with an empty barbell 45 lb olympic.
- One set of 5 squat repetitions.
- Or do bodyweight squats or air squats, meaning squat without any weight.
Important Squat Coaching Cues
Here are important cues:
- Keep your chin down in order to improve your spinal alignment.
- To do this, you do NOT want to look at yourself in the mirror.
- Instead, find a spot on the wall or floor in front of you and keep your eyes looking down.
- Keep your head in this neutral position.
- This will help your overall posture and stability for the squat.
- Another cue is to think of holding a ball under your chin.
- This will keep your head tucked and neutral.
The Critical Cue of Bracing
Another very important cue is that your upper body must be solid.
Meaning, you must brace and keep your body tight. And not soft like a jelly donut.
- In order to do so, when the barbell is on your back, you need to pull it down onto your shoulders.
- This is counterintuitive, but you want to become one with the bar.
- Don't just rest the barbell on your back and then squat.
- No, rather, pull the barbell down tight on your back, and your upper body, back, lats, everything must be tight.
- Push your chest out, you want your back pinched, shoulder blades pinched.
- Keep your back neutral and straight.
- The best way to do that is to push your chest out.
Now you know why squats and deadlifts are so great for your posture.
Brace Your Core at the Bottom
A third very important is to brace your core. Meaning to tighten your core, your abs, especially when you lower to the bottom part of the squat
In order to do a proper squat, you need to break parallel.
This means that your hips will drop lower than your knees.
When you get to the bottom of the squat, your bracing should be the tightest, so you really have to squeeze your stomach.
If you wondered why you can sculpt abs from doing squats, now you know.
Believe me, if you do a set of squats without bracing and set of squats with bracing, you will feel the difference.
Also , if you do the warm up above, using the farmers walk and the lateral step and squat using a hip circle, your squat will feel better than ever.
Add Weight to the Bar
After you do a set of squats with the barbell only, now you can add on another 10 or 20 pounds.
Think about everything you just learned
Head down, chin tucked a bit as if you are holding a ball against your chest with your chin, eyes spotting towards the bottom of the wall in front of you.
After you pick up the barbell from the rack, try to take only 2 steps back, and then set up in your stance for the squat.
Squat Stance and Hip Hinge
Your heels should be about shoulder width apart and toes pointed at about 11am and 1pm.
When you squat down, you want to break first at the hips. Push your hips back to start the squat. This is called hip hinge. You must learn how to hip hinge to squat safely.
The last thing you want to do is squat by bending your knees. This will cause your knees to move forward over your toes and puts too much pressure on your knees.
On the other hand, start your squat with a hip hinge, and move your hips backwards. This movement keeps your knees more vertical.
And instead of putting all the pressure on your knees, the weight is on your hips and glutes which are much more powerful and stable muscles than your knees.
Become One With The Bar
Remember to pull the barbell down onto you, try to become one, tighten your lats, your entire upper body, and brace your core.
Squeeze your abs, especially when you get to the bottom of your squat and then explode back up. Think of driving your heels through the floor and lifting up with your hips and glutes.
Do another 5 reps using 55 pounds or 65 pounds.
The amount of weight you use in this beginner squat workout is not as critical as your technique.
Work on perfect form for two reasons, first, for your safety, and second, in order to maximize your benefits from the squat.
Poor form is dangerous and will not give you the results you are looking for.
Rest in Between Sets
Take another 3 to 5 minute rest so you can recover.
Put on two 25 pound plates, now you are at 95 pounds. Of course, adjust the weight to your comfort level.
Do another set of squats but this time just a few reps. You want to get used to the heavier weight, but not expend too much energy. Keep your form!
Now add two 5 pound plates. Which is 105 pounds. Do a work set of 5 reps.
If you can handle 105 lbs, then you can do one more set at 110 pounds using fractional plates, 2.5 lbs on each side.
But, it is not about how much weight you squat, it is all about your form and technique.
And, use the best squat form possible from your first set to your last. No matter how low or high the weights are. Don't use sloppy form.
Squat Assistance Exercises
After you complete your beginner squat workout, do some squat assistance exercises.
The first squat variation is the pause squat.
First you need to lower the weight from 110 pounds to 85 pounds, for example. When you do pause squats, you are not going to use a heavy weight for you.
Now, in the pause squat, when you hit the bottom of the squat, you are going to pause there and hold for a count of one, one thousand, and then explode up.
The pause squat is going to help you improve your ability to complete the second phase of the squat, to stand up from the bottom of the squat position.
Do 2 sets of 5 reps with the pause squat.
Elevated Goblet Squat
The second assistance exercise is the elevated goblet squat. In this exercise, you will use a platform to elevate your heels. Keep both your toes and heels down on the floor. They should both be in contact, your toes with the floor and your heels with the platform.
Now use a squat stance that is a bit narrower than your usual squat stance. And grab a dumbbell of 20 or 25 pounds.
Follow all the technique cues given above and do 12 reps. One important point to note is that whether you are squatting with no weight, light weight or heavy weight, you want to always practice your squat with proper form.
Of course this applies to all other powerlifting or weight lifting exercises.
The purpose of the elevated goblet squat is to target the quadriceps.
Do 2 more sets of elevated goblet squats, raising the weight of the dumbell from 25 to 30 and to 35 pounds if you can handle it.
Bulgarian Split Squat
Last is the bulgarian split squat for stability.
In the bulgarian split squat, you work on balance and stability. You put one foot behind you on a bench and then squat down with one leg. Good luck if you can do that!
Here is a video of the Bulgarian Split Squat, courtesy of Strength Coach and Powerlifter Ray Padilla:
Truth be told, I could not even do one the last time I tried them. Im not going to beat myself up. Im grateful that I could do any squats at the age of 62. But I will work on them. However, for you, if you can do bulgarian split squats, go for it. They will only help your squat.
This beginner squat workout should take you approximately 45 minutes to an hour.
You can shorten the time of the workout by shortening your rest periods between sets.
You might have to use less weight in that case.
Let me know how this beginner squat workout goes for you.