About two years ago, a friend shared with me about the deck squat. And, fortunately or unfortunately it led me down the squat rabbit hole. One squat variation that really had me working hard and toning my glutes is the pop squat variation.
Pop squats are a squat variation that come with a ton of benefits and can be done by anyone in any fitness level. Another plus is that this exercise does not require equipment. You’ll use your body weight for balancing and can perform it anywhere.
Ready to learn more about pop squats? Here is my experience.
What is the pop squat?
Less than a decade ago, I got the job of my dreams. It was a demanding job and the biggest challenge at the time was setting aside time to work out.
Yes, I’d on occasions get a chance to use my treadmill and do my steps, but it was not enough to tone my body. One of the areas that took a hit was my butt. It became saggy and unattractive.
So, I looked for simple exercises I can do when traveling for business or at home that would work the glute muscles. I came across squat variations such as the frog squats and pop squat which are designed to isolate glute muscles and strengthen then.
What is the pop squat? In simple terms, it’s a variation of the traditional squat that mainly works the glutes. Naturally, your next question would be how to do a pop squat.
Step-by-step: How to do a Pop Squat
When doing this exercise, remember to maintain proper form to avoid straining. Also, your clothes should not be restrictive since it involves a lot of motion.
Start in a standing position. Back aligned with neck. Then widen your stance, wider than shoulder width. Rest your hands around the waist
Go down into a deep squat position. Start by pushing your hips back until you ‘sit’ on your calves
Push your body back up with enough force to jump high. Also, your feet are on the air; put them together so you land on your toes with your feet together.
Immediately you land on your toes, push yourself up again, into a jump and then go back to the initial position, squat.
How many times should you do the pop squat? For beginners, we recommend 1 set of 1 – 15 reps (repetitions). Once you are familiar with the moves, you can amp your workout to at least 3 sets of 15 – 20 reps.
Pop squats are not only easy but also engage the lower body muscles. At first, this exercise is challenging for beginners but with time you’ll enjoy at how fast you can move and the feel and look of your lower body.
Speaking of lower body, let’s see muscles worked by pop squats.
Pop squats muscles worked
Made up of 4 muscle groups, quads are located at the front of the upper leg. These muscles are responsible for movement; running, walking, jogging
Glute or butt is made up of three muscle groups. Unfortunately, unless you isolate and work these muscles, they lag behind other muscles.
The good news is the traditional squat plus its variations isolate but muscles and will give you the toned-glute you desire.
These are the muscles on the upper back of your legs. Like quads, they are responsible for movement. We recommend you also add the lateral squat variation to your routine to further work these muscles.
Secondary muscles worked
Now to some carry over benefits of pop squats. When you jump up and go back to the squatting position, you’ll also be working on your calves. And, if you’d like to work your calves more, try the plié squat exercise with a barbell. Speaking of variations, here are a few pop squat variations for a more intense workout.
Pop Squat Variations
Just like other squat variations, the pop squat exercise also has variations that help you work more muscles together. Remember squats are like that famous Russian doll, the gift that keeps giving.
1. Pop squat twist
Pop squat twists engage more muscles than the basic variations. This exercise also recruits oblique muscles and the lower body. Here is how to do this variation
Start in a standing position, and then widen your stance
Lower your body into squat position
Push your body up and jump
As you jump, twist your body to the left
Make sure to land on your toes before jumping back up and this time twist your body to the right.
For beginners, start with 1 set with 12 – 15 reps. Then progress to 3 sets.
2. Pop squat with toe touch
Another great variation to add to your leg day is the pop squat with toe touch variation.
Start with the proper pop squat form. Back aligned, feet apart, then squat
Push your body up and jump
Land on your toes then squat as you move your left hand and touch your right toes
Jump back again and using your right hand touch your left toes when you squat
Do at least 3 sets
3. Pop squat with 180 degrees turn
Our last pick is the pop squat with 180 degrees turn. This variation is the toughest one and we recommend only do it once you’ve mastered the basic movements.
Start with the stance described above; step 1 – 3
Just like the basic variation, push yourself and jump but while you are on the air, turn 180 degrees and land on the other side.
When you land on the other side, make sure you land on a squatting position.
Start with one set then gradually increase to 4 sets
Pop squat exercise benefits
1. Burns calories: Squats burn calories, that’s a given. It’s important noting that you can burn more calories when you engage other variations of the pop squat.
2. Works muscles: I love compound exercise. These are exercises that work different muscle groups at once. When doing pop squats you’ll be targeting your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves
3. Help with balance: The pop squat and its variations will strengthen your core making you more stable. This allows you to engage in weightlifting exercises safely.
4. Pop squats can be done anywhere and do not need equipment