This week in the Best Butt Exercises series we take it back to basics with an isometric exercise that is fantastic for helping you activate your glutes, and can easily be incorporated into your daily routine with not much extra effort!
Exercise: Static Squat Hold
Muscles worked: Glutes, quadriceps, core
Jolie Recommends: 60 seconds, 2-3 sets
Difficulty rating: 3
Effectiveness rating: 9
Best Butt Exercise #35: Static Squat Hold
Squats are hailed as the king of butt exercises, but did you know that many people do them incorrectly? This can lead to injury, muscular imbalances, and all kinds of grief. So how do you prevent this?
Allow me to introduce to you: the static squat hold. This is an isometric exercise, which means that the muscles you will be working don’t actually move during the exercise. You’ll be sinking into a squat position to engage your glutes, then simply holding for as long as you can.
It sounds simple, but don’t worry – you will feel this one.
Plus, it’s super versatile. It can be modified to suit any fitness level, and you can also use added equipment to target additional muscle groups (like holding a pair of light dumbbells as shown in the picture above).
The real secret to making this move effective is to focus on squeezing your butt cheeks together. It sounds funny, but a great way to do this is to imagine that someone has put a bus ticket in your butt crack (don’t ask.. this was the first thing that came to mind), and you can’t let it fall to the ground. This means you’ll need to clench those cheeks together as hard as you can!
Once you master the squat hold, you’re in a much better position to start doing traditional dynamic squats – because you’ll have trained all the necessary muscles that you need to do a squat with proper form.
By progressing the static squat hold to different depths, you also train the muscles necessary to protect your knees when squatting deeper – this ensures you don’t unwittingly do yourself an injury when doing traditional squats.
How to Do the Move
The video below is a great introduction to the entry level static squat. It is not a deep squat, but this is a great depth for practicing glute activation to ensure that your butt muscles are working (and not just your quads).
- Start with feet slightly wider than hip width apart, toes pointing forwards and slightly outwards.
- Engage your core, and keeping your back in a neutral position, start to slowly sit your hips back as though you were sitting into a chair. Don’t let your knees sink inwards – keep them in line with your feet.
- Only sit back as far as is comfortable (you shouldn’t feel any pain in your knees or joints). For beginners, this is around 30 degrees between your quads and the vertical, intermediate: 60 degrees, and advanced: 90 degrees.
- Actively engage the glutes by clenching both butt cheeks together. Concentrate on squeezing to hold yourself in the squat position.
- Place your hands either on your hips, or extended straight out in front of you.
- Hold for as long as you can – aim for 60 seconds at a depth that is achievable for you!
Perfecting Your Form
- Pelvis should be rotated forward, to prevent your lower back from rounding.
- Keep the back and neck in the neutral position – engage your core.
- Don’t let the knees extend out over the toes or sink inwards towards the center of your body.
- Squeeze the glutes hard by clenching those cheeks together! This is the heart of the exercise.
- Avoid adding modification extras until you have mastered the basics of the squat hold.
Aim to hold a squat for at least 60 seconds, for 2 or 3 sets. Adjust the depth of your squat so that you can hold it for this 1 minute time period, and deepen your stance as you gain strength.
Squat holds are great because they are not too intensive and you can quite literally do them anywhere, anytime. Once you’re well practiced at these, you can even incorporate them into your daily routine. I seriously do these when I’m brushing my teeth!
There are also many different modifications of this exercise that you can try – for example, try it with a resistance band looped around your thighs (this will help you to work against letting the knees collapse inwards). Or you can hold dumbbells out in front of you or incorporate a shoulder press. Don’t do this until you are well-practiced though!