Three Squat Antagonists

A great way to sequence exercises in strength training is to pair antagonist (opposite) body parts or movement patterns. This approach helps to increase range of motion, promotes muscle balance around a joint, improves recovery between sets, and ultimately improves performance. All of that translates to better results.

So what are some common antagonist pairings? Well, there are leg extensions and leg curls, triceps extensions and arm curls, military presses and pull-ups, and so on.

Now let me ask you a question: What exercise is a true multi-joint antagonist of the back squat? Think about it for a second. There are options available although they’re not that common. Here are three:

Inverted Squat

Here’s a humbling exercise that’s performed upside down with the use of gravity boots. Instead of just bending at the hips as you would with inverted sit-ups, try bending at the hips and knees. You can assist yourself if necessary by pulling on yoga straps suspended from the chin-up bar on either side of you or simply by pulling on your thighs. Make sure to lower yourself down to the start position under control without any assistance.

Reverse Cable Squat

Stand directly under the high pulley of a lat pulldown machine, position the lat pulldown bar behind your neck, and squat down. You’ll need to secure your feet on the floor with the use of heavy hex dumbbells. At first, use a light weight (about a third of your body weight) and do high reps until you get comfortable with the action.

Reverse Band Squat

This is similar to the cable version mentioned above except instead of using a lat pulldown machine, you’ll use an Olympic bar suspended from resistance bands in a power cage. The bar can be positioned behind the neck or you can do an overhead squat with the arms extended. Again, secure the feet to the floor with the use of heavy hex dumbbells.

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