deck squat

Deck Squat: How to (Video), Muscle Worked & Variations

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There is a reason why the deck squat is referred to as the greatest squat – it’s one of the hardest to do, and nothing can beat the results you get if you include it in your workout!

For this article, I consulted my friend Darren, who is a coach at a local gym. The deck squat is part of his fitness routine, and you should see his serrated abs. He ranks this exercise up there with the snatch, power cleans, and kettlebell swings. That should give you an idea about how hard this exercise will work your body.

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What Is the Deck Squat?

squat for abs

We’ve discussed other types of squats variations, such as the lateral squats, plié squats and more, but these variations got nothing on the deck squat. 

Darren gives fair warning: Deck squats are not meant for beginners. If you’re a beginner, start by mastering the basic squat, then other easier variations before graduating to this variation.

Now, to the meat of this article, how do you perform a deck squat?

Step by Step: How to Do a Deck Squat

If you are new to this, we recommend you get a soft mat for your back, watch videos first so that you get an overall feel of how you execute the deck squat.

Here are the steps to properly and safely perform this exercise.

Step #1

Start in a standing position, back straight and feet together, toes pointed straight ahead.

Step #2

Sink back into a deep squat position. Hands on your side and chest up.

Step #3

Sink further down till your butt touches the ground then roll on your back; feet should go over your head until the toes touch the ground.

Step #4

Roll back into a squat position. Feet firm on the floor for stability. Then stand up straight and squeeze your glutes for a good workout.

Step #5

Repeat the exercise. We recommend 1 set of 5 – 10 reps for beginners.

Now, unlike other squats, the deck squat has lots of movement. That is why we recommend that you maintain proper form, wear light clothes, and get a good grasp of the basic movements before moving to a variation.

Since your body moves a lot during this exercise, you’ll burn and strengthen muscles at a faster rate than when using other forms of squats. So, what muscles does this routine target?

Deck Squat Muscles Worked

Every squat variation targets specific muscle groups, and the deck squat is no different. This squat work the following muscle groups simultaneously.

  • Abdominal muscles

Yearning for 10-pack abs or at least 6-pack abs? One of the muscles targeted by the deck squat is the rectus abdominis or abdominal muscles.

That roll you make and with your feet stretched above your head, you’ll feel your abdominal muscles contract. That stretching not only burns calories, it also gives you the chiseled result you desire.

Strong abs muscles are not only for good looks. With a strong core, it’ll be easier to perform compound exercises such as deadlifts and bench press.

  • Quads and hamstrings

I have never struggled with my quads muscles and most fitness buffs I’ve come across over the years say the same.

You see, quads get a ton of carry-over advantages from other exercises. Using a cardio trainer? Quads benefit. Running on a stationary bike? Quads are strengthened.

Now, hamstrings kind of get the short end of the stick. Most athletes struggle with tight hamstrings because they do not take time to stretch them out.

When doing deck squats, your feet will stretch over your body and head, effectively stretching and strengthening your hamstrings.

  • Glutes

Every time you roll back, squat and stand, you have to squeeze your glutes. If you feel pain on your back, it means you are not standing upright.

If you’re looking to work your glute muscles further for a rounder firmer behind, we recommend add the kneeling squat variation to your routine.

When Should You Do a Deck Squat?

when to squat

This is totally up to you. Some people prefer to start with the basic deck squat as a warm up and then add other variations for full-body workout while others prefer to do it at the end of their routine, you know kind of like the bow that ties everything up nicely.

So, it’s up to you.

Now some pro tips by Darren.

  • When starting out, make sure that your legs, knees, and arms are close together. You want to avoid uncoordinated movements when exercising.
  • If you’re new, moving slowly is okay to avoid injury.
  • When you roll back into place, feet should stay together.

Deck Squats Variations

Don’t you just appreciate squats? There are so many variations to ensure you never hit the dreaded workout plateau. Here are the main variations of the deck squat.

1. Kettlebell Deck Squat

kettle bell dumbbell squat

In our other squat variations we opted for dumbbells as opposed to a kettlebell. I did ask the coach, why a kettlebell? Well, it’s safer to use than a dumbbell when performing this exercise, and it works arms muscles just like dumbbells.

Follow the steps below.

How to Do

Option 1
  • Step #1 – Start right. Standing tall, hands at a 90-degree angle close to your chest, feet together.
  • Step #2 – Roll on your back. For this variation you’ll keep your feet close to your chest.
  • Step #3 – Your hands should remain at a 90-degree angle at the side of your knees. You should see the kettlebell’s bottom. To avoid muscles strain, especially on shoulders and hands, do not move the kettlebell to face upwards.
  • Step #4 – Squat back and stand all the way up. Make sure to squeeze your glutes.
Option 2

For beginners, when you go down, do not roll. Instead, plant your feet on the ground and move the kettlebell over your head and touch the floor, then roll back up and stand. See the video below to see how this is done.

2. Pistol Deck Squat

This variation is somewhat different from the others.

How to Do

Step #1

Standing upright, lower yourself to a squat position.

Step #2

Stretch your right leg straight ahead so you are squatting on the left leg.

Step #3

Roll and bring your knees close to your chest.

Step #4

Roll back to a squat position with your right leg stretched ahead. Then stand up straight and squeeze your glutes.

Step #5

Switch to the left leg and repeat the exercise. Start with 2 sets.

3. Deck Squat with Plate

The deck squat with plate variation is quite similar to the kettlebell deck squat. The plate should come over your head and touch the floor before you go back up.

Deck Squat Benefits

  • Works multiple muscles

This exercise has compound effects. The basic deck squat recruits the core, glutes, hamstrings and quads, and your biceps when using a kettlebell or plate.

  • Helps with mobility

As you roll back and forth on your feet, you’ll strengthen your hamstrings and quads, and as a bonus, you’ll work on your calves too. Stronger muscles not only make your movement easier during routines, it also gives you better posture whether you’re walking or standing.

  • Stability

The more you train your core, hamstrings and quads, the more stable your stance will be while working out. The full range of motion involved with deck squats helps you improve strength on these muscles for better stability.

  • Burns calories

I believe this is the only squat variation I can’t do 50 reps for.  It’s a beast of a workout, and because of the range of motion, it burns more calories compared to the traditional squat.

  • Sculpts your abs

If you want a nice summer body, this exercise burns calories around the waist and core and brings out the abs.