plie squat exercise

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

Why do sumo wrestlers squat the way they do? Is that just a stance, or is there a purpose? Sumo squat is another name for plie squat, a variation of the regular squat that we often do.

The sumo wrestlers’ structure and bigness will not allow them to do the usual squat, that’s why they have the plie as alternative to a killer lower-body exercise and warm up. 

In a previous article, we talked about the kneeling squat, which is a squat variation that gives you a firm, well-toned butt. Today, we’ll cover the details of the plie squat. Like the standard squat, it strengthens your core and lower body muscles, allowing you to lift heavier weights and improving your stability and mobility, but it does more. That’s what this article is all about.

A plie squat is one of the best warm up exercises especially for leg workouts. If you’re doing a full-body workout, you should warm up using plie dumbbell squats, instead.

What Is a Plié Squat?

A regular or traditional squat involves standing with your feet at shoulder width and going down and up. However, tall people often find balancing issues when doing regular squats.

Enter plie squats. Since you perform plie squats with your feet slightly wider apart, it makes balancing so much easier.

plie squat

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 to make sure you have the proper form:

Steps  Activity

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 than the standard and other variations. After sometime, some people might find this routine monotonous, so below, we’ll talk about variations that will 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.

Plié Squat Muscles Worked

What muscles do plies work out? Most people prefer the traditional squat because it strengthens the glutes, hamstrings and quads. What they may not know about is that plie squat does all those and more.


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

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

IMPORTANT: Make sure 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 to make you stronger and more flexible.

Inner thighs

The inner thighs (which are made up of the gracilis, adductor longus, adductor brevis, and sartorius muscles) 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

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

how to get the most out of your squat

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. Try different angles, but always position your feet 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’re looking to lose a lot of weight, say 50 lb, we recommend that 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 6 variations that you can do at home or at the gym.

1. Plie Squat with Calf Raise


Here is how you do this plie variation:

Steps  Activity

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. 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.

Steps  Activity

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

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.


3. Plie Squat with Resistance Band

Exercising with resistance bands is another great 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.

4. Plie Squat Jump

Start with legs apart, feet pointing out. Check for proper form. Then jump. Check the guy below on how to do this.

We recommend you start with lower jumps and go higher as you 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 you do this exercise.

Steps  Activity

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 workout.

6. Plie Squat with Dumbbell

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

Steps  Activity

Step #1

You want to start with a heavy dumbbell or kettle bell. A dumbbell weighing 15–20 lbs 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.

Check the video below for more.

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 plie workouts 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.

Plie squats burn stubborn fat in your inner thighs and strengthen 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? If you want to tone your glute (or any muscle on your body, for that matter), you have to work it. Integrating plie workout into your routine will make your butt firmer and rounder.

squat faq


Lastly, unlike most exercises, the plie does not require any fitness machine, needs only a little space, and can be done anywhere. It’s handy when you’re on a trip, staying at a hotel, up in the mountains, or in the office. In other words, there’s no excuse to miss your workout time.

Read Next: Pop squat workout


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 at shoulder width and your feet pointing forward.

If you’re tall, you may find yourself losing balance or bending your spine, which is a big no-no 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 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’re a beginner, we recommend starting with a set of 2, 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.

Make sure that your feet are pointed outwards at the recommended 45-degree angle.  Your knees should align with your calves, and don’t move them outwards or inwards.

For the dumbbell, it shouldn’t be too heavy to cause jerky movements. Always remember to keep your back upright and not hunched.