4 Kettlebell Squat Variations For Powerful Legs
The Kettlebell squat is an incredible exercise with an endless number of variations you can do to build leg strength and mobility. Here are four great variations to get you started.
The Kettlebell Squat, or more generally the squat, is a staple in every type of training program from bodybuilding, sports performance and even the boot camp classes at the local Park and Rec.
The reason why this exercise is so popular across the board is because it works!
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Whether you want to build overall strength in the muscles and joints, an aesthetically pleasing derriere, power production through the full body or simply to work up a good sweat; the squat will cover them all simultaneously.
There are many ways to perform a squat and kettlebell squats provide some of the best variations.
The Kettlebell squat can be much easier and safer than their barbell counterpart from a minimal number of weights needed and the number of variations available to keep you engaged and challenged at the same time.
In this article I am going to cover some of my favorite kettlebell squat variations to get you to the next level of awesomeness.
Some of the kettlebell weight positions are not traditional representations of a squat.
Because of that, for the sake of this article I am going to classify a squat as a hip movement with a distinguishable concentric and eccentric (upward and downward) motion without stopping in-between (like a deadlift).
Basic Kettlebell Squat Variations
Kettlebell Squat Variation #1: Low Squat
This type of squat is very close to looking like a deadlift, but unlike a deadlift we are not going to start from the ground where the bells are stopped. Instead, we are going to start at the top position and take it from there.
I like this exercise for both the beginner and seasoned training veteran. For the beginner, the low kettlebell squat can actually facilitate the proper squat movement by stabilizing the body because the weight is close, and just outside the body.
The more advanced trainee can add a pretty good amount of weight in this version which will also increase core and grip strength. Unlike a barbell, you can also easily and safely load only one side of the body for more core training.
Kettlebell Squat Variation #2: Goblet Squat
The Goblet Squat, coined by renowned strength coach Dan John, is a staple in the kettlebell squat world and for good reason; it is safe and effective.
The traditional way has us holding the bell close to the middle of the chest with the hands grasping the handles which are facing upward.
If you crave some variety try flipping the handle upside down and go for it. This top-heavy position will cause you to grip the bell much more to keep it in position and you will call upon the core to keep your torso upright and stable.
Want to go into the danger zone? Don’t hold the handles at all. Grab the bulk of the bell itself and squat away; just make sure that your hands are dry.
Kettlebell Squat Variation #3: Front Squat
The kettlebell front squat is the bread and butter of the kettlebell squat world. This is one of my go to Kettlebell squat exercises to build overall strength and power in the lower body and because we are using a kettlebell there are many challenging varieties.
The most common version, the double Kettlebell front squat, is also arguably the most challenging and you don’t need a lot of weigh to make the double kettlebell front squat effective.
You can load a heavy barbell in a power rack and set it the correct position, sparing the energy needed to bring it up from the floor into the rack position like you have with to when using two kettlebells.
Simply getting two kettlebells into the rack position requires you to clean them both up simultaneously into the appropriate position.
Try doing that with 85% of your one rep max in a barbell front squat and you may not succeed, and if you do, you might not have the energy to perform front squats afterward.
If you need to take a small step back, don’t worry, simply use one kettlebell, which makes it much easier to clean up, but still provides a challenge in trying to keep your weight centered without shifting your body during the squat.
If you want to go unconventional look no further than the uneven kettlebell front squat.
Whether you are working out in your garage with limited kettlebells or looking for a unique squat challenge that should not be replicated using a barbell; the uneven weight of this variation might be what you are looking for.
Simply clean up two different weights to the front rack position, perform the desired number of reps and switch sides for balance.
Kettlebell Squat Variation #4: Elevated Squats
Ever pine for more hip mobility? Then this unconventional squat version might be for you.
For the first variation, we are going to take liberties with the squat name because the kettlebell will be held down like in a deadlift; but unlike the deadlift the kettlebell will never touch the floor because of the elevated position you are in.
Elevate your body to your desired height and choose your appropriate weight. You are going to be limited by your mobility; the increased range of motion (ROM) necessary for this variation takes time to develop.
At first you may notice your hips stop moving and cause you to fold like a lawn chair and round your back at the bottom; which is not good. Be aware of this, go slow and build the ROM overtime.
Want to give your grip a break and go back to the old-school, unconventional powerlifting days? Then try the hip-belt kettlebell squat. Using a band or a hip-belt, secure a kettlebell and perform your elevated squat.
Have your hands in front for counterbalance because that bell might be swinging around which will require a lot of balance and core control.
There you have a few ways to perform the kettlebell squat that should keep you both interested and challenged for months to come.
For more information check out the video below where I demonstrate the kettlebell squat variations mentioned above. Now go out and make it happen.
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