Deck Squats: How To Do, Alternatives,…

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You can get in shape with many different exercises. Find out how to do deck squats and whether they are any good.

Deck squats, also known as rolling squats, are a variation of regular bodyweight squats where you roll back and forth on your back at the bottom of the movement.

This makes it so deck squats focus slightly more on your cardiovascular health, flexibility, coordination, and core muscles.

On the other hand, you also spend less time per minute actually training your quadriceps and to some extent glutes and hamstrings compared to regular squats.

Deck squats do help you train these other muscles and fitness components to some extent.

However, you will likely get more progress in less time by working on each of these areas separately.

Deck squats are more an exercise for fun, as a warmup, or as a progression step toward other movements.

You will get some benefits but there are more effective options.

Besides that, deck squats can also be rough on body parts like your back, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles.

How to do a deck squat

Doing deck squats on a somewhat softer surface like a firm exercise mat can make the exercise more comfortable.

That aside, take the following steps to do a deck squat:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width.
  2. Slowly lower your body as far as comfortable by folding your knees. You can lean forward for balance but keep your spine straight and your thighs above your feet.
  3. Sit down on the ground with your butt as close to your feet as possible and curve your back slightly.
  4. Roll backward until the lower and middle parts of your back are off the ground.
  5. Roll forward with enough power so that you get back on your feet. Putting your feet close to your butt can help with this.
  6. Push yourself up again into starting position by stretching your legs.

This walkthrough is described as separate steps but in reality, you want this to be one fluid motion.

Holding a weight like a dumbbell, kettlebell, or weight plate in your hands can make getting up easier.

If the deck squats are still too hard you can start with progression steps (actually regression steps) like regular bodyweight squats and only rocking back and forth.

Muscles worked with deck squats

Some of the primary muscles worked with deck squats include:

  • Quadriceps (front thighs)
  • Abs

Some of the secondary muscles worked with deck squats include:

  • Glutes (butt)
  • Hamstrings (back thighs)
  • Calves
  • Other core muscles like your erector spinae (lower back) and obliques (sides)
  • Arm and back muscles depending on how much you use your arms

The extra roll that deck squats add to regular bodyweight squats will mostly work your abs and to some extent erector spinae more.

At the same time, you will also spend fewer seconds working your leg muscles during the minutes you exercise

On top of that, it is hard to do deck squats with a lot of weight which will be necessary to grow and strengthen the strong leg muscles you work.

In turn, deck squats are typically not that good for growing and strengthening your quadriceps and other leg muscles.

Even if you use weights like a kettlebell or weight plate, deck squats will mainly be a muscle endurance exercise and not a great one.

Benefits of deck squats

Even if deck squats are not the number one exercise for many fitness goals, you can get some nice benefits from doing them.

Some of these benefits include:

  1. Muscle endurance: Deck squats can engage a variety of muscles to the extent that they can get better endurance.
  2. Can help with losing weight: The deck squat movement likely burns more energy than what activities you usually do. In turn, this makes it so they can help with weight loss.
  3. Flexibility and mobility: Deck squats can help you push your limits when it comes to mobility and flexibility. If you do this safely, deck squats can offer improvements in these areas.
  4. Balance and coordination: Doing deck squats successfully will require a good amount of balance and coordination. This can benefit your skills in these areas.

Deck squats are not the only exercise that offers these benefits.

That being said, if you enjoy this movement and like the positive effects, you can still consider deck squats.

Deck squat alternatives

It is also possible that you realize deck squats are not the right choice for your preferences and/or training goals.

In that case, you can also consider some of these deck squat alternatives:

  • Other squat variations
  • Step-ups
  • Stretching
  • Balance board exercises
  • Bulgarian split squats
  • Agility ladder drills
  • Core exercises like bicycle crunches

What deck squat alternatives you prefer will depend on things like what fitness components you want to train, what you like doing, and what equipment you have available.

Are deck squats a good exercise?

Deck squats can be a good exercise to improve leg muscle endurance, mobility, flexibility, balance, coordination, and core muscle endurance in one movement.

You could also simply find deck squats fun to do or use them to work toward certain other movements.

That being said, even if you want to improve all the areas above, training them separately will likely offer more results than doing deck squats.

Additionally, people who want to improve muscle size and strength definitely want to turn to other deck squat alternatives.

Lastly, some people will find deck squats too uncomfortable on their backs, knees, shoulders, etc.

In short, even if you really like doing deck squats you likely want to add other exercises to your workout plan to actually get results.


What are deck squats good for?

Deck squats are mainly good for improving leg and core muscle endurance, mobility, flexibility, balance, and coordination.

That being said, you can likely see more results by training each of these areas separately.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.