5 Exercises to Help You Master the Perfect Squat

fit couple doing a squat with TRX straps at home
These exercises improve your squat form by sharpening your technique and movement patterns.
Image Credit: Nastasic/E+/GettyImages

Whether you want to get lower or make carrying heavy load easier without sacrificing form, nailing down the hallmarks of the squat is key to getting the most out of your glute workouts.

In fact, dedicating some time away from the squat rack and focusing on the basics can help sharpen your technique, allowing you to try other squat variations that further challenge your glutes, quads and core as well as your back and shoulders.

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At its most basic level, doing a squat involves pushing your hips back and down, while allowing your knees to track over your toes and keeping your chest up. But if you're having some trouble getting your thighs to hit parallel (or below), for instance, then you want to work on improving your squat form with your own body weight.

Here are the best exercises to improve your squat form while building strength and stability.

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Move 1: TRX Body-Weight Squat

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Sets 3
Reps 15
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart facing the anchor of the TRX straps and hold one handle in each hand.
  2. Push your hips back and lower your butt back and down until your thighs are parallel to the ground (or as low as you can comfortably go), driving your knees out over your toes. Allow your body weight to shift back into your heels.
  3. Press your feet into the ground to stand back up.

Tip

Avoid pulling on the TRX straps to help you stand back up from the bottom of your squat. Most people have trouble keeping their chest up and pushing their hips back when squatting, but holding onto the TRX straps provides stability and support so you can maintain proper squat form.

Move 2: Stability Ball Wall Squat

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Sets 3
Reps 15
  1. Stand in front of a wall, facing away from it, and place a stability ball on your mid to lower back.
  2. Place your feet shoulder-width apart and press your back into the ball.
  3. Push your hips back and lower your butt back and down until your thighs are parallel to the ground (or as low as you can comfortably go), driving your knees out over your toes. Continue to push your back into the ball as you lower down into a squat.
  4. Press your feet into the ground to stand back up.

Tip

This exercise improves your squat form by forcing you to keep your chest lifted and back upright during the descent. Place your hands out in front of you and brace your core to help you stabilize.

Move 3: Wall Sit

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Sets 3
Time 30 Sec
  1. Press your back against a wall and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Keeping your back pressed into the wall, slide down and bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your ankles should be directly under, or in front of, your knees
  3. Tighten your core and continue pressing your back into the wall.
  4. Hold this position for 30 seconds before standing back up.

The wall sit is great for building glute and quad strength, which are key to improving your squat form. As you get stronger, increase the time you hold the wall sit or add a weight plate to make it more challenging.

Move 4: Box Squat

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Sets 3
Reps 15
  1. Stand in front of a 12-inch box, facing away from it, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Push your hips back and lower your butt back and down until your butt touches the box behind you. Allow your body weight to shift back into your heels.
  3. As you drive your hips back, reach your arms straight in front of you at shoulder height.
  4. Press your feet into the ground to stand back up.

Tip

Using a box can help you improve your squat depth because you need to send your hips back and down to sit while keeping your chest up. As you progress, you can use a lower box to improve your range of motion.

Move 5: Overhead Squat

Sets 3
Reps 15
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a PVC pipe overhead.
  2. Keeping your arms overhead and bracing your core, push your hips back and lower your butt back and down until your thighs are parallel to the ground (or as low as you can comfortably go). Drive your knees out over your toes and allow your body weight to shift back into your heels. Make sure to keep your chest up.
  3. Hold the bottom of your squat before pressing your feet into the ground to stand back up.

Tip

Practicing with a PVC pipe helps you improve your squat form when stabilizing weight in the overhead position. It trains you to keep your chest from caving by bracing your core throughout the movement.

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