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Friday, June 21, 2024

5-Minute Workout: Squat Variations

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Our 5-minute workouts feature big-bang-for-your-buck exercises that work multiple muscle groups—some moves work the cardiovascular system, as well. Because they’re so efficient and over before you know it, these routines are made to be challenging yet achievable. Take it at your own pace, and modify as needed to suit your fitness level.

What lifts and tightens your tush? Squats. While a traditional squat shapes your glutes and strengthens your legs, you can challenge your midsection and calves, and even inject a bout of cardio, with a few simple tweaks to the classic move. If you think you can’t get an effective lower-body workout plus a few minutes of bonus cardio in 5 minutes, the following workout will change your mind.

These 6 moves can be done anywhere, require no equipment and—best of all—can be done in just 5 minutes. Start with 2 minutes of walking quickly in place—really pump those arms, and get those knees up as high as you can—or walk up and down the stairs at a quick pace for 2 minutes before moving right into the squat sequence below:

1. Basic Squat

Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and toes pointed forward. Begin to lower down like you’re about to sit in a chair. As you squat, keep your abs tight and make sure your knees don’t go past your toes. You can extend your arms straight in front of you for extra balance, if needed. Once your thighs are parallel to the ground, press off your heels and glutes to return to a standing position. Repeat for 30 seconds.

2. Surfer Squat

Start with your legs open wide apart and your arms out like you’re balancing on a surfboard. Keep your torso straight but turn your head to look over your right shoulder. Turn your right toe to point outward, and lower down in a squat position. Push off of your feet to take a little hop off the ground and land with your left toe outward while your right toe is aligned with your hips. Gaze over your left shoulder. Repeat this for 30 seconds.

3. Plié Squat

Stand tall with your feet wider than your shoulders and your toes pointed outward.
Lower down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then return to standing position. Repeat for 30 seconds.

4. Squat Jacks

Start as with a basic squat position: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and toes pointed forward, then squat down. From a squatting position, press off your feet to jump. Try to bring your feet together during the jump. It’s exactly like a jumping jack, except you don’t move your arms. Jump your feet in and out for 30 seconds while maintaining the squat position.

5. Squat Knee to Elbow

Begin in a basic squat position, with your hands behind your head, elbows out, shoulders back (like you’re going to do a sit-up). Lower down into a squat. Before you stand back up, shift your weight onto your left foot and lift your right knee up in the air. As you lift your knee, twist your torso so your elbow and knee are parallel. Return the right leg to the ground, and repeat on the other side. Alternate for 30 seconds.

Tip: You can use a railing or chair for balance if you need assistance.

6. Squat Jump

This is your final cardio burst, so hang in there!

From a basic squat position, lower down. Instead of standing back up, explode up off the ground. Jump as high as you can. Land softly with your knees bent in a squat position. Repeat for 30 seconds.

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