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Exercise Spotlight: Squats

Have you been told "You should squat in your exercise program." What does that mean? The squat (and it's many iterations) is considered a staple in many fitness programs. The UW Health Sports Medicine Fitness Center presents variations for performing the squat exercise that can be done anywhere.




Find a convenient open space. You may want to practice the movements with a stable support to hold onto in order to determine your ability to perform them when you are out in "free space" without using additional equipment.




No equipment is needed, unless you want to create your own variation.


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The videos below use a dowel and a medicine ball. However, any home object (e.g. a can of soup from your cupboard) can serve as an appropriate choice. You will notice differences depending on the floor surface you use. A concrete, tile or wood floor with a non-skid surface would provide the most stability, while having carpeting or some other surface with a "cushioning" feel will add to the level of difficulty.




Performing these squat variations will expand your ability to support your body weight in different, challenging positions.


Video Examples


UW Health Fitness Center senior exercise physiologist Jude Sullivan demonstrates the exercises in the videos below.


Squat (Beginner)


Shift Squat (Intermediate)




Overhead Squat (Advanced)  


Progression Ideas


Consider the "Squat" as the beginner choice. The "Shift Squat" and the "Overhead Squat" are intermediate and advanced choices, respectively. So, if these are new to you, try the beginner version first until mastered before proceeding to the intermediate and advanced versions. As you begin to do the exercises, focus on lowering your body weight toward the floor smoothly.


A training progression would likely occur over the course of weeks or months depending on your initial level of fitness and your ability to pick up some of the nuances of each movement. Start by doing one set of five to six repetitions of each exercise, as long as you can do them successfully. Be sure to evaluate your body's response and use that feedback as a guide to help you determine how aggressively you can advance.