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5 bodyweight squats you should be doing (or trying)

5 bodyweight squats you should be doing (or trying)

Let's get down to business to defeat the buns. You don't need a gym to get a full body workout. You might not even need equipment! Bodyweight squats achieve just that: it's a compound exercise that, when performed properly, exerts most major muscle groups. Here are 5 bodyweight squats that you should try today:
The deep squat
Deep bodyweight squats gif
When you’re treading in shallow water, your range of motion is fairly limited in comparison to when you’re swimming in deeper water. The same rings true for squats. By lowering your squat past your knees, you’ll be activating more muscles and burn more calories. Don’t sweat it: deep bodyweight squats won’t impact your knees any more than regular squats will. Weighted deep squats might even be more effective at increasing strength than parallel squats. Keep your weight in the heels and balls of your feet and make sure that your back isn’t overarched, ensuring that your knees don’t extend past your toes.
The prisoner squat
prisoner squats
Image via GymRa
Make your squats more challenging by placing your hands behind your head. Your body will work harder to stabilize itself throughout the movement, relying less on momentum and more on muscle control. The same rules apply: ground your feet, keep your knees in line with your ankles and maintain good posture throughout the movement.
The plié squat
plie squat blogilates gif
It’s high time to work your thighs. The plié squat specifically targets your quads, inner thighs, glutes, and hamstrings. Begin with your legs in a stance slightly wider than your shoulders and turn your feet about 45 degrees outward. Load the weight unto your heels and squat straight down, keeping your knees in line with your ankles. For an extra challenge, hold a weight in between your legs as you perform these bodyweight squats.
The jump squat
Jump squats cosmopolitan
Make sure you have good basic squat mechanics before you perform this plyometric move. Your knees shouldn't cave in and your chest should be higher than your hips. Lower down into a squat and jump vertically. When you land, decelerate so that you don’t put too much pressure on your joints. Make your landing slow and controlled and land through your heel. Use your arms to help propel yourself when you're starting out. Place them behind your head for an extra challenge. Clap your feet together while jumping to make the move more tricky.
The pistol squat
Pistol squat
While squats are challenging in themselves, pistol squats take difficult to an entirely different meaning. Gradual practice is necessary before you’ll be able to perform a full one-legged squat. When perfected, these bodyweight squats can help you to improve your strength, stability and balance. Keep your arms parallel to the floor, raise one leg with your foot flexed, and lower down slowly. Hold the position for a moment, then stand back up.
This article about bodyweight squats is part of a series of posts for #ChallengeMe: PumpUp's series of daily mini-challenges to keep you motivated. Check out the full challenge here. 


Never skip leg day again

Who says leg day has to be a chore? Here are two of PumpUp member @jatie’s favourite leg and butt exercises. 

  • 180 Jump Squats
  • Wide Squat Leg Lifts

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Danielle’s do-it-anywhere workout

This is a guest post by Danielle Shoom, Personal Trainer. Visit Danielle’s website here

This no-equipment-needed full body workout will challenge your cardio and strength ability. You will do each exercise for 50 seconds with a 10 second rest period between exercises. You can repeat this as many times as you would like. I suggest repeating it 4 times. 

50 seconds of work/10 seconds of rest:

  • Speed skaters
  • Jump squat
  • Plank
  • Tricep dip

Speed Skaters

Bending down into a curtsy position and tapping by your front foot, then jump and switch sides. If you choose not to jump, walk from side to side switching quickly.

Jump Squat

Sit your bum back into a squat position and make sure your knees are not going over your toes, then jump up. If you choose not to jump stand tall and come up on toes.


Come into a forearm plank, stay wide along your shoulders and squeeze your bum and inner thighs.

Tricep Dip

Finger tips face forward and bend your knees, bend your elbows down then press up. If this is too hard on your wrists change this exercise for a tricep push up.

Danielle Shoom is a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and nutrition enthusiast based in Toronto, Ontario. Visit Danielle’s website at