There are many ways to modify the fundamental squat movement. Find out how to do in and out squats, their benefits, and whether you should do them.
While there are other versions too, this article chooses the in and out squat where you alternate between a narrow-stance squat and a 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.
The jumps in between also add more of a challenge for your cardiovascular system.
That being said, while in and out squats do offer benefits, it is also worth noting that there are exercises that offer these positive effects more effectively.
Many people will also have to make in and out squats more challenging with something like a weighted vest to see muscle growth.
How to do an in and out squat
Take the following steps to do an in and out squat:
- Stand up straight with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and feet pointing slightly outward.
- Lower your upper body as far as comfortable in a controlled motion by folding your knees. Ideally, your hips are lower than your knees. Keep your spine more or less straight during this movement. Additionally, keep your knees above your feet.
- Raise your body somewhat explosively by stretching your legs. You need to generate enough power so that you make a jump at the top of the movement.
- While in the air, move your feet inward in the air and land with your feet together. Land with your knees at least slightly bent.
- Lower your hips similar to step 2.
- Push yourself up again with a jump at the top of the movement similar to step 3.
- While in the air, move your feet outward and land with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, like in the starting position. Again, bend your legs at least slightly before landing.
The main things to pay attention to while doing in and out squats are keeping your knees above your feet and your spine more or less straight.
Additionally, you want to keep your legs slightly folded to land.
You can make in and out squats harder by wearing a quality weighted vest, looping resistance bands around your upper legs, or holding 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.
You can also just do bodyweight in and out squats faster. However, this works your cardiovascular health harder. If this is your goal, activities 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 (front thighs), glutes (butt), hamstrings (back thighs), and calves.
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 and outer thigh muscles.
Moving your legs inward and outward in between the squats works your hip abductors (outer thigh muscles) and hip adductors (inner thigh muscles).
Muscle-related fitness goals are not only about what exercises you do. The way you do them influences your results too.
In and out squats where you jump slowly can potentially grow your quadricep muscles. Many people will need to use extra resistance for this purpose.
On the other hand, you can also really jump high to focus on muscle power.
One downside of in and out squats to keep in mind is that there are not many great ways to make the exercise harder on your muscles.
Besides a weighted vest, you do not have many options to make sure you can actually get significant results from in and out squats.
In and out squat benefits
Even if in and out squats are not the most effective exercise out there, you can still get benefits from doing them.
The list below will compare in and out squats to the regular version of the exercise. You can also get the regular squat benefits to a lesser extent.
- More inner and outer thigh focus: In and out squats work your inner and outer thigh muscles just a bit more which can potentially lead to endurance improvements. This could be a benefit for your situation.
- More explosive workout: Depending on how you do them, in and out squats could help improve muscle power in your front thighs. This can benefit things like athletic performance.
- Coordination and balance: There are more challenging workouts for coordination and balance but in and out squats are somewhat harder in these areas. This could improve your skill in them.
In and out squats are not the only exercise you can use to get these benefits. At the same time, they can still be good motivators to give this movement a try.
In and out squat alternatives
Even if you like some of the benefits of (in and out) squats, there are other movements you can consider too. Some in and out squat alternatives include:
- Sumo squats
- Cannonball squats
- Jump squats
- Jumping jacks
- Other squat variations
- Weighted leg abductions and adductions
- Box jumps
These alternatives each have their advantages and disadvantages over in an out squats. Details like your training goals will influence your choice a lot.
Are in and out squats a good exercise?
Doing in and out squats can help you improve muscle endurance, power, and potentially mass in your quadricep muscles.
For this last purpose, you will likely need some type of squat equipment like a weighted vest to pressure your muscles more.
Besides that, you engage a variety of other muscles which could lead to endurance improvements in these areas.
You can also expect in and out squats to improve your coordination and balance slightly.
That being said, it is also worth mentioning that many exercise alternatives will be more effective than in and out squats for these purposes.
For example, jump squats tend to be more effective for muscle power. Weighted squats tend to be better for growing your muscles.
So I would not really call in and out squats a good exercise but you may like a lot of variety in your workout program. In that case, you could give them a try.
What type of exercise is an in and out squat?
What type of exercise in and out squats are depends on your strength level and how you do them. For most people, in and out squats will be either a cardiovascular and muscle endurance exercise or a plyometric leg exercise.