Bodyweight squats can get boring for your campers really fast. Luckily, other than just adding weight, there is a lot of different squat variations you can use to keep your bootcamps fun and interesting.
How To Come Up With Your Own Squat Variations
While I’ve got plenty of ideas for you to use below, I really recommend trying to come up with a few of your own creations too.
Try to get creative by adding things like:
- a rep of another exercise between each squat rep – eg. Squat, Lunge left leg, Squat, Lunge right leg, etc.
- plyometrics – eg. jump on the spot, forwards, backwards, side to side
- a second person – eg. partner pistol squats
- different pieces equipment – eg. bands (vary the attachment point), tyres, dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls
How To Scale The Difficulty of Squats
Don’t be lazy and dish out over-complicated squats to clients who aren’t ready for it. Always scale your exercises so everyone can do them.
Just because you saw a trainer doing an exercise on Instagram doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for you class – so use common sense and good judgment.
It may seem like fun to get your clients doing all sorts of crazy exercises but it won’t be so fun when half your bootcamp is missing due to injuries.
Example: Scaling The Tuck Jump
A Tuck Jump is tough exercise. If you lack power in your legs you just end up stomping your feet into the ground each rep. Instead, if you were to plan Tuck Jump Squats (see below) into your routine you could just have your advanced clients do Tuck Jump Squats, your intermediates do regular Jump Squats and the beginners do just plain Squats.
Learn more about scaling your workouts for different fitness levels.
18 Squat Variation Ideas For Your Bootcamp
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Great for teaching clients what a full squat feels like while also mobilising them.
Start by grabbing your toes (or ankles if you are very inflexible). Squat down allowing the knees to track outside the elbows.
Still gripping your toes (ankles) straighten the legs as much as possible.
Pause briefly. Repeat.
Side to Side Squats
Another great mobiliser. Start with small movements and then move into full ROM.
Bring the legs wide, keeping one leg straight move the hips laterally and squat down onto the other leg. Move the hips in the other direction as you bend the straight leg and straighten the bent leg. Make sense? Think of doing a lateral lunge but on the spot.
Just like a regular squat only put your hands behind your head, prisoner 24601!
Band Goblet Squats
When you don’t have dumbbells or kettlebells handy.
Set up: Hook band around both feet and take a squat stance. Pull handles up in front of the chest, just like with a dumbbell goblet squat.
Cues: Usual squat cues. Weight evenly spread on feet. Hips down. Knees out. See it in a workout: Dice Accumulator
Tyre Bear Hug Squats
Start with good feet placement. Holding the tyre can distract some people into completely forgetting how to do a squat. Perform a squat.
Burpee Double Squat
Complete like a regular burpee (see video link below). Instead of jump at top after you stand go right into 2 squats.
Figure 8 Squats
Use a dumbbell or kettlebell. Take a kettlebell or a dumbbell and lower down into an isometric squat.
Pass the dumbbell around and between your legs in a figure 8. Repeat in the opposite direction.
Put your hands on the floor, jump your legs out.
Jump them back in to your hands and then stand up. Just like a burpee minus the push up and jump at the top.
Lunge Squat Lunge
This exercise is a combination of a lunge and a squat.
Basically you perform a forward lunge with a squat between each rep. Left leg lunge, squat, right leg lunge, squat, left leg lunge, squat, etc.
Surfer Jump Squats
Squat down low and touch the ground. Jump up and spin 180 degrees so you are facing in the opposite direction. Touch down again with your other hand as you land.
Squat Tuck Jumps
This is a harder variation of the Tuck Jump that I also find much safer as it gets campers thinking about bending their knees and softening the landing after they jump.
It also teaches good movement patterns of squatting to jump instead of just springing off the ankles and calves.
4 Direction Squat Jumps
Complete jumps in this order: jump forward, jump back, jump left, jump right, jump back, jump forward, jump right, jump left.
If performed correctly your movements should form a ‘plus’ (+) sign.
Squat and Row
Lift your hands above your head so your body forms an X shape. Sometimes called full extension squats.
Partner High 5 Jump Squat
Partners should both start in an isometric squat. Partners should them complete two ‘low fives’. After the second low five partners should jump in the air and complete a third five up high. Upon landing partners should go straight back into a squat and start again with the opposite hand
Keep an eye out for people not holding an isometric squat but just standing with their knees slightly bent. Aiming at the elbow really does help for the jumping high five.
Switch-Foot Low Squat
Squat with L Heel & R Toe on the same line, along the frontal plane. Hop and switch foot position, L Toe & R Heel in line. Repeat.
Tyre Overhead Squats
Get feet set up for squat. Press the tyre overhead – glutes on, core on, spine neutral. Keep feet flat on the ground as you come down into the squat.
Thinking about opening your hips as you lower into the squat can really help.
Rope Battle Squats
Start with an alternating slam. Continuing the wave movement, slowly lower into a squat. Keep the rope moving.
Pause for a moment at the bottom before coming back up. Keep the movement controlled and slow. Repeat for reps.
(P.S. You can discover more bootcamp exercise ideas on our YouTube channel.)
Which squat variations do you love to give your bootcampers?
Share with us in the comments below.
Kyle Wood created Bootcamp Ideas in 2010 when he was hunting around on the internet for workout ideas. He ran a successful bootcamp in Victoria, Australia and spends his spare time managing this site, adventuring (or lazying) with his wife and find new ways to make bootcamps even better.