The 3 Hardest Body-Weight Squat Variations

Pistol squats require a ton of strength, balance and stability.
Image Credit: Pollyana Ventura/iStock/GettyImages

Ace one of the most effective exercises for a stronger lower body and work up to doing 250 reps in a single day with the 30-Day Squat Challenge. Get all the details on the challenge here.

Squats are one of the most natural movements for humans — just look at a toddler squat down to pick up a toy. But if you've been doing rep after rep of standard squats with no variations, you're missing out.

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While adding weight is a great way to progress your workout and build more muscle, that's not always an option — either because you don't have access to the gym and/or there's no room in your budget (or in your home).

That's why we tapped the FHIT pros at Fhitting Room to provide the following body-weight squat variations. Arranged from easiest to hardest, all three will challenge your lower-body strength. The first two will also tax your cardiovascular system, and the third requires advanced balance and stability.

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1. Jump Squat

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Skill Level Intermediate
Region Lower Body
  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointing straight forward or slightly turned out.
  2. Hinge your hips back and bend your knees as you swing your arms back behind you.
  3. Press through your feet and explode up as you jump into the air, swinging your arms forward and over your head for momentum.
  4. Land with your knees slightly bent to absorb the impact and go straight into the next rep.

2. Jump Squat 180

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Skill Level Advanced
Region Lower Body
  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointing straight forward or slightly turned out.
  2. Hinge your hips back and bend your knees as you swing your arms back behind you.
  3. Press through your feet and explode up as you jump into the air and turn over your right shoulder. Your arms should swing forward and over your head to provide momentum.
  4. Land facing the opposite way from where you started with your knees slightly bent to absorb the impact. Lower straight into your next rep, this time turning over your left shoulder.

3. Pistol Squat

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Skill Level Advanced
Region Lower Body
  1. With feet hip-width apart, slowly shift your weight to your right leg as you extend your left leg out in front of you.
  2. Raise your arms in front of you at chest level to help you balance.
  3. Engage your core and hinge from your hips to squat down, maintaining your balance on your right leg.
  4. Go as low as you can without touching the floor, then drive through your heel to stand back up.

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