You can approach the standard squat exercise in many ways. Find out how to do drop squats and what their benefits are.
Drop squats are a variation of regular squats where you start with your feet together, make a small jump, and land with your feet at about shoulder width at the bottom of the regular squat movement.
After that, you jump up and land with your feet together.
Compared to regular squats, drop squats work your muscles slightly more explosively and work your cardiovascular system slightly more.
On the flip side, drop squats also skip the eccentric aka downward part and generally build less muscle (unless you do them really explosively).
You could consider (weighted) drop squats to train for certain specific movements or to switch things up.
That being said, most people want to turn to other exercises that offer more progress toward their training goals.
How to do a drop squat
Before doing this faster exercise you want to warm up well.
After that, take the following steps to do a drop squat:
- Stand upright with your feet together.
- Make a small jump and move your legs outward so you will land with your feet at about shoulder width.
- Land with your legs already bent a good amount but at the same time leave them slightly stretched to absorb the shock from landing. Keep your thighs above your feet.
- Push yourself up again by stretching your legs. Do this with enough power so you make a little jump at the top of the movement.
- Move your feet inward in the air and land with your feet together.
While I did include the jump because it is often part of the exercise, you can also do drop squats without it to get similar effects.
The two main things to keep in mind with both of these variations are keeping your thighs above your feet and your spine more or less straight.
This last point will be slightly harder compared to regular squats due to the extra speed from lowering faster.
Muscles worked with drop squats
The main muscles worked with drop squats are your quadriceps (front thighs).
Your glutes (butt), hamstrings (back thighs), erector spinae (lower back), calves, leg abductors (outer thighs), and leg adductors (inner thighs) will have to work to a nice extent too.
Lastly, if you do something like dumbbell drop squats, your forearm grip muscles or other muscles have to work to hold the weights.
Keep in mind that you still need to work your muscles enough to grow and strengthen them.
Drop squats will likely be slightly suboptimal for these things compared to regular squats because you leave out part of the downward aka eccentric motion.
On the flip side, you can also say drop squats are more explosive which means they can be more useful for training muscle power and potentially build a nice amount of muscle anyway.
If you plan to do drop squats for one of these muscle-related purposes you likely want to do a version where your feet are already at shoulder-width at the start.
Additionally, more experienced lifters may need to do weighted drop squats with equipment options like a weighted vest, barbell, or dumbbells to see their desired results.
Another option is turning to one-legged alternatives like drop lunges.
Drop squat benefits
The positive results of drop squats include both more typical squat benefits and more unique effects of changing up the movement. A few of these are:
- More explosive workout: Since drop squats work your muscles more explosively they can be more useful than the regular version for improving muscle power.
- Stronger muscles: Drop squats may often not be as effective as regular weighted squats but they can still help you grow and strengthen muscles.
- More inner and outer thigh focus: If you do the mini jump version, your inner and outer thigh muscles have to work slightly harder than usual. This could be a benefit.
- Coordination and balance: Even if you keep your feet shoulder-width apart, drop squats work your coordination and balance to an extra extent. This can lead to more improvements in your skills.
- More cardiovascular training: The extra small movements in drop squats with jumps likely work your cardiovascular system slightly more. This could be a benefit depending on your training goals.
Drop squats are often not the best exercise choice for these benefits but it should become clear they are often better than doing nothing.
Similar to other squat variations, drop squats can be challenging on body parts like your ankles, knees, hips, and back.
However, there are also a few things that increase the injury risk in this movement even more.
First of all, the jump adds a small shock to your ankles and knees.
Secondly, the faster movements in drop squats make it easier to forget about key technique points that are relevant for reducing injury risk.
Thirdly, the fast downward movement in drop squats will just be more challenging for certain muscles, joints, and tendons.
In short, keep in mind that drop squats involve a certain injury risk and don’t forget to warm up enough.
Drop squat alternatives
Drop squats will often not the be most effective exercise option available. Instead, you can consider some of these drop squat alternatives:
- Jump squats
- Other squat variations
- Box jumps
- Broad jumps
- Bulgarian split squats
- High knees
What fitness components and potentially what muscles you want to work will influence what drop squat alternatives are the right choices.
Are drop squats a good exercise?
You can get benefits like better muscle power, bigger muscles, better coordination, etc. from doing drop squats.
More experienced lifters could use squat equipment like dumbbells, a weighted vest, etc. to get more out of drop squats.
However, you can also say drop squats are not a good exercise in the sense that there are likely exercise alternatives that are more effective for your training goals.
For example, the downward (eccentric) part of squats is useful for building muscle but drop squats skip this.
Additionally, drop squats do improve muscle power but are not completely a plyometric leg exercise either.
If you really like drop squats, you can consider adding them to your workout routine anyway.
At the same time, you likely want to implement other effective leg exercises too.
What do drop squats do?
Drop squats make the regular squat exercise slightly more explosive, reduce the downward (eccentric) movement under tension, and tend to be slightly worse for muscle growth.
What is a DB drop squat?
A dumbbell drop squat is a squat variation where you hold dumbbells and let your body drop downward instead of doing a controlled downward motion.