plie squat

Plie Squat exercise: How to (Video), Muscles Worked, Variations and More

In a previous article, we about the kneeling squat; a squat variation that gives you a firm, well-toned butt. In this article we’ll cover in detail another squat variation, the plie squat.

Squats are the go-to exercise for most people. This exercise strengthens your core muscles and lower body muscles, allowing you to lift heavier weights, improving your stability and bettering your mobility.

A plie squat or a sumo squat is one of the best warm up especially for leg day or you can do plie dumbbell squats for a full body workout.

plie squat

Another name for plie squat is sumo squat. But, to keep things simple, we’ll only use the name plie squat.

A regular/traditional squat involves standing with your feet at shoulder width and going down and up. Unfortunately this may cause some balancing issues for some people, especially taller people.

On the other hand, a plie workout involves standing with your feet slightly wider length which makes balancing easier.

Plies squats also recruit muscles on the lower body better than a traditional squat.

Step-by-step: How to do the plie squats exercise

This exercise is beginner friendly, especially for anyone looking to learn squats. Follow these steps for proper form

Step #1

Start – Stand with your feet wide apart, shoulder width. Then add about half an inch on each side. Legs should be wider than your shoulders.

Step #2

Slowly turn your feet outwards so your toes are pointing in opposite directions (about 45 degrees). Kind of like the way ballet dancers place their feet.

Step #3

Sit slowly down, ensuring your knees align with your ankles. Ensure your back is upright and not hunched

Step #4

Stand back up. For a good workout, do 3 sets with 12 – 15 repetitions

Plies squats are safer and easier to perform. After sometime, some people might find this routine monotonous. And, below we’ll discuss some variations that’ll help you amp your routine.

How many calories do plie squats burn? It’s normal to ask this question. Using the Metabolic Equivalent Table, we calculated and estimated you’ll burn about 10 calories per minute which translates to 150 calories per 15-minute session.

Also, you can burn more calories per minute if you add weights. We’ll cover more on this below. First, let’s look at the muscles worked by plie squats.

Plie squat muscles worked

What muscles do plies workout? Most people prefer the traditional squat because it strengthens the glutes, hamstrings and quads. The plie squat does this and more

  • Glutes

This means your butt. If you have a saggy butt, you know … a droopy butt that prevents you from wearing that sexy swim wear during summer, try this exercise plus the kneeling squat variation. Do 2 sets with 15 reps for each for about 3 months for great results.

Also, remember the glute is the biggest muscle so regular exercising is the only way to a tight, well-rounded butt.

 Also, ensure you feel a nice squeeze on your behind every time you stand back up while doing this exercise.

  • Hamstrings and quads

These are muscles on the front and back of your upper leg. They are responsible for mobility. Plie squat exercise helps strengthen these muscles bettering your mobility and stability.

Bonus muscles worked:

  • Inner thighs

Made up of the Gracilis, Adductor Longus, adductor Brevis and Sartorius, the inner thighs are responsible for pelvic stability and leg rotation.

However, this area tends to accumulate fat fast compared to other areas on your body. Women, especially tend to have flabby inner thighs. Plie squats will help tone your inner thighs which is a great bonus.

How to get the most out of plié workouts

how to get the most out of your squat

If you are a beginner, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of this exercise

Pro tip #1

Foot position – Must I keep the foot at a 45-degree angle? Well, this depends from person to person. The first few minutes of this exercise should be used to find the right position for your feet.  Test different angles, but ensure your feet are pointed outwards. Proper feet positioning ensures comfort throughout the routine.

Pro tip #2

Your knees should be aligned with your ankles. Do not push them out excessively.

Pro Tip #3

Do not over exercise. Plie squats alone won’t burn a lot of calories. If you are looking to lose a lot of weight, say 50 lb, we recommend you add strength training to your routine.

Plie Squat Exercise Variations

This exercise has more variations compared to the deck squat. We’ll only list 5 variations that you can do at home or at the gym.

1. Plie squat with calf raise

Here is how to do this plie variation

Step #1

Start with the basic plie stance; feet wider than the shoulder length, toes pointing out. Remember ballet dancers’ feet.  

Step #2

Lift your heels off the ground. Give your calves a good squeeze.

Step #3

Hold the position for about 3 seconds then lower your heels.

Step #4

Repeat the exercise. We recommend 2 – 4 sets of 10 – 12 reps each.

2. Barbell plie squat

If you are a body builder looking for a more challenging plie workout, this option is for you.

Step #1

When starting, your bar should be placed at an easy-to-reach height, preferably chest height.

Step #2

Pick the bar and carefully position it across your upper back for proper form and to prevent injuries.  Step back from the squat rack.

Step #3

Like when doing the basic plie, ensure your feet are at the right position.

Step #4

Start by lowering your body and going back up. Do at least 3 sets of this workout per exercise session. Each set should have 15 reps.

3. Plie squat with resistance band

Exercising with resistance bands is another awesome way to add intensity to your routine.

With this exercise, you’ll start by putting the resistance band around your hips.

Then repeat step 1 to 4 of the basic plie squat.

Another way you can do plie squats with resistance band is by stretching the band between your feet and step on it.

Grab the middle part of the resistance band with both your hands.  Then pull to work your upper body. Check the guy below on how to do this.

4. Plie squat jump

How to do:

  • Start with legs apart, feet pointing out. Check the proper form we discussed on the basic plie. Then just jump.
  • We recommend you start with lower jumps and go higher as master the exercise.  

Read Next: How long does it take to lose 50 pounds? Exercises and more

5. Plie squat pulses

A plie squat pulse targets the inner and outer thigh, glutes, hamstrings and lower back. Here is how to you’ll do this exercise.

Step #1

Start with your legs stretched out wide with feet pointing outwards (just like when doing a normal plie)

Step #2

Now from your seated position, you want to move your body up and down; about an inch up and down. Think of bouncing a ball. You want your upper body to bounce up and down for a good work. Check the video below for more.

6. Plie squat with dumbbell

Dumbbells are a great way to add resistance training to any form of exercise. A plie squat with dumbbell enables you to lose more calories per minute than when doing the traditional plie squat.

How to do a plie squat with a dumbbell

Step #1

You want to start with a heavy dumbbell or kettle bell. A dumbbell weighing 15 – 20 lb is a great pick.

Step #2

Place the dumbbell between your legs and take proper plie squat stance.

Step #3

Grab the dumbbell. Hold it between your legs and go up and down as with a normal plie. With time, you can pair this variation with the plie calf raises variation.

Plie squats benefits

Why should I add this exercise to my routine, you may wonder. Below are a few of the benefits you will gain once you integrate plies workout into your routine.

  • Tones the inner thighs

Inner thighs are tough to work because they are well ‘hidden’. To tone them, you have to go for exercises that isolate them and target them specifically.

That is what plie squats do.

This exercise helps burn stubborn fat in your inner thighs and also strengthens the muscle.

  • Helps with balance

Have a hard time lifting? Plie squats are one of the best ways to work your hamstrings and quads, improving balance and stability.

  • Tones your butt

Tired of a droopy butt? The glute is a muscle and if you want to tone any muscle on your body, you have to work it. Integrating plie workout into your routine will help make your butt firmer and rounder.

  • Space

Lastly, unlike exercises that require machines, the plie does not require any fitness machine. What this means is it requires little space.

Plus, you can do plies no matter where you are; at home, office, hotel room, or up the mountains as you hike. You’ll never miss your workout time.

Read Next: Pop squat workout


squat faq

1. What is the difference between a plie and a squat?

The main difference between a squat and a plie is the stance. With the squat, you start with your feet apart, shoulder width and your feet pointing forward.

Unfortunately, this stance maybe hard for some, especially for tall people. You may finding yourself losing balance or bending your spine, which you should never do when exercising.

Muscles targeted by the traditional squat include hamstrings, quads, glutes, and calves.

On the other hand, the plie squat favors everyone. Its proper form involves standing with feet wider than shoulder width and feet pointing outwards (45 degrees)

Now, this exercise works all the muscles a traditional squat targets plus the all the muscles of the inner thigh.

2. Plie squat vs sumo squat?

This exercise is one and the same. You can use the name interchangeably.

3. How many plie squats should I do?

If you are a beginner, we recommend you start with a set of 2 with 10 reps each.  This means you do 10 plies, take a break, and then do another set of 10.

For advanced workout buffs, do 2 sets with 15 reps then add a set or two of the plie with dumbbell variation.

4. Is plie bad for the knees?

Joints are sensitive and that is why it is advisable to maintain proper form when doing any exercise. Plies are not bad for knees if you maintain proper form throughout the exercise.

Ensures your feet are pointed outwards, recommended 45 degrees angle.  Your knees should align with your calves; no moving them outwards or inwards.

Also, for the dumbbell, ensure it’s not too heavy to cause jerky movements. Also, make sure your back is upright and not hunched.

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