There are many different ways to improve your current exercise routine. What about doing in and out squats, what will the effects be?
There are different movements with the name in and out squats but this article considers this to be a variation of regular squats where you alternate between a narrow-stance squat and wide-stance squat with a jump between the two.
Compared to regular squats, in and out squats train your muscles more explosively and engage your inner and outer thighs a bit more.
For both building muscle and improving muscle power, there are better exercise options. However, doing in and out squats can still offer valuable benefits.
You may need to make in and out squats more challenging soon to keep seeing a lot of muscle growth and strength progress. Especially if you are more experienced with leg resistance training.
Whether you should add in and out squats or alternatives to your routine depends on things like your personal situation, personal preference, and training goals.
How to do an in and out squat
To do an in and out squat take the following steps:
- Stand up straight with your feet wider than shoulder width apart and feet pointing slightly outward.
- Slowly lower your hips by bending your knees. How far depends on different factors like knee health but at your lowest point you ideally want your hips to be at or lower than your knee height. You will likely have to bend forward for balance but keep your back in a straight line throughout the movement. If needed you can also point your arms forward for balance.
- Push yourself up 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. Make sure you land with your legs at least slightly bend.
- Lower your hips similar to step 2.
- Push yourself up again with a jump at the top of the movement similar to step 3.
- Move your feet outward in the air and land with your feet wider than shoulder width apart, like in the starting position. Again, make sure your legs are at least slightly bent when landing.
The main attention point when doing in and out squats is keeping your back more or less straight. Especially if you do this exercise with weights.
How you want to land depends on what body parts you want to absorb the shock. As mentioned before, you generally want to at least fold your legs slightly so your knees don’t absorb all the weight.
You can make in and out squats harder by wearing a weighted vest, looping resistance bands around your upper legs, or carrying weights like dumbbells, a barbell, kettlebells, etc.
Additionally, you can focus on jumping harder to add train your muscles more explosively like in a jump squat.
Another option is doing bodyweight in and out squats faster but this is to make it more of a cardio workout. If that is your goal something like running, the stairmaster, or cycling may be better choices.
Muscles worked with in and out squats
Both the narrow-stance and wide-stance squats will mainly engage your quadriceps, glutes, calves, and to some extent hamstrings, lower back, core, and erector spinae muscles.
The narrow-stance squats will focus slightly more on your quadriceps compared to a regular squat. Wide-stance squats will focus slightly more on your inner thigh muscles.
Moving your legs inward and outward in between the squats works your leg abductors (outer thighs) and leg adductors (inner thighs).
The way you train your muscles influences what fitness component you improve. The parts at a slower pace will train either muscle endurance or muscle strength. The jumps will work on your muscle power fitness component, especially if you focus on jumping higher.
The way you build muscle in places like your legs is by engaging these muscles so that they get damaged enough. This may sound counterintuitive but this damaging makes it so your body repairs these muscles, and adds a bit more to be better prepared to exert similar efforts in the future.
If you stick to exercises with the same weight, as your muscles become stronger this same effort may not damage your muscles enough to promote extra muscle growth.
By adding extra resistance to exercises like in and out squats you are better able to damage the muscles in a shorter amount of time. If you don’t overdo it, give your body enough nutrients, and give your muscles enough rest this can in turn lead to faster and more leg muscle gain.
One downside of in and out squats is that it is not that convenient to add heavy weights to the exercise. This is generally required to challenge the strong muscles in your legs enough.
In and out squat benefits
There are two main categories of benefits of in and out squats. The first category is the benefits of in and out squats over regular squats. Some of these include:
- More inner and outer thigh focus: Whether this is an actual benefit for you depends on your personal situation and training goals.
- More explosive workout: The way you train your muscles influences what fitness component you improve. In and out squats can be a good alternative if you want to work on your muscle power fitness component.
- Coordination and balance: Coordination and balance are fitness skills that can be improved by challenging them. In and out squats can help you more with this compared to the regular version.
While changing the feet stance together with the jump does influence a few things, in and out squats are still squats. This means they also offer regular squat benefits. Some of the most important ones include:
- Stronger muscles: In and out squats are a type of resistance training that can help you strengthen your muscles.
- Can help with losing weight: Doing in and out squats likely requires more energy than your regular daily activities. Extra muscle mass also helps with burning more calories. Both of these aspects can help with, but are no guarantee for, weight loss
- Improves mood: Exercise like in and out squats promotes the release of substances that help you feel good.
- No equipment or location required: Since in and out squats are a bodyweight exercise you don’t have to invest in equipment or be in a specific location.
- Improves sleep: Exercise like in and out squats can improve the quality and duration of your sleep which in turn offers many important benefits.
- Slows down aging: In and out squats won’t influence how many days have passed since you were born. However, exercise can slow down the progress of certain aging markers that are correlated with negative health effects.
While inevitably some workouts are better for some of these benefits than in and out squats, it is amazing that you can get so many important benefits from adding one activity to your routine.
The main thing to keep in mind is that in and out squats can be hard on body parts like your ankles, knees, hips, and back, even if you implement the right technique.
If you are weak or sensitive in these body parts you may need to do other strengthening exercises first. Especially if you have any knee or back pain, you may want to talk to your primary care provider before implementing in and out squats into your workout routine.
If you feel pain in any body parts it may be a sign you are overdoing it. In that case, you may need some rest, better lifestyle habits, a less intense workout schedule, or it may be a sign that in and out squats are not (yet) for you.
In and out squat alternatives
While in and out squats can be a good addition to your workout routine, there are also some alternatives available for training similar aspects of your physical health. Some of these in and out squat alternatives include:
- Sumo squats
- Cannonball squats
- Jump squats
- Other squat variations
- Weighted leg abductions and adductions
- Box jumps
Which one of these options is the best depends on things like your personal situation, training goals, the equipment you have available, etc.
Many people will benefit a lot from adding in and out squats with the right technique to their routine. That being said, there are likely more effective exercises for training muscle strength and muscle power.
If you do decide to implement in and out squats you will likely want to do them with squat equipment relatively soon because bodyweight in and out squats will become too easy. This way you can see more results for a longer time.
Another thing you need to remember is that doing in and out squats can be hard on body parts like your ankles, knees, hips, and back, even if you implement the right technique.
If you are weak or sensitive in these body parts you may need to do other strengthening exercises first. Especially if you have any knee or back pain, you may want to talk to your primary care provider before doing more in and out squats.
Also keep in mind that consistency is an important factor for any workout plan. The more you love the exercise you do the easier it becomes to do it consistently. If doing in and out squats is a workout you love, great. If not other exercises can also offer a lot of benefits.
If you do decide to implement more in and out squats make sure you give your body enough nutrients, rest, and sleep to repair and grow your muscles.