Supercharge Your Squats
You know squats are essential. But they come in so many variations – how can you tell which one is right for you?
Chris Proulx, a professor of movement science and his students tested five different squats – the four freestanding versions shown here, plus one machine exercise. (See "What about Machines?") Volunteers performed the exercises standing on force platforms, which are high-tech devices that measure the pressure exerted through a lifter's feet. The researchers also attached electrodes to the volunteers' legs to see how hard the moves made their quadriceps and hamstrings work. Their pain, your gain.
BEST FOR: CORE STRENGTH AND LOWER-BODY MUSCLE DEVELOPMENT
By placing the bar on the front of your shoulders, you force your torso to stay upright. This requires and builds both core strength and stability.
AVOID IF... you have hip or abdominal injuries. With the bar balanced directly above those areas, you'll be putting a lot of pressure on them.