You can work your leg muscles with more unusual movements too. Discover how to do sissy squats and whether you should.
Sissy squats are a variation of regular squats where you still fold your knees but keep your body straight from your knees to the top of your head.
To be able to do this you move your heels up in the air instead of keeping them flat on the ground.
There is also something called a sissy squat bench where you anchor your feet and lower legs.
This requires less balance during the exercise but also limits your range of motion a bit.
Sissy squats are an exercise that mainly focuses on your quadriceps (front thigh) and to some extent ab muscles.
The downside of sissy squats without a sissy squat bench is that you need to use a lot of balance. This can make your resistance training less effective.
Individuals more experienced with quadriceps training may also need to do sissy squats weighted. Again, the balance aspect does not make this easy.
How to do a sissy squat
Even if you are at home or any other place without a sissy squat bench you can hold a wall or a stable object during sissy squats to stay balanced.
That being said, take the following steps to do a sissy squat:
- Stand upright with your feet about shoulder width apart. You can start either on your toes or feet flat on the ground.
- Slowly fold your knees as far as comfortable and raise your heels off the ground. Keep your body straight from your knees to the top of your head.
- Stretch your legs again in a controlled motion.
As a resistance training beginner, you likely want to start with small sissy squats since the deeper ones can be challenging on your knees.
Besides that, the main challenge points are keeping your body straight from your knees to your head and not falling down.
Sissy squats muscles worked
The main muscles sissy squats work are your quadriceps (front thighs) and to some extent your abs.
If you are familiar with regular squats, you will understand that sissy squats are slightly harder for the muscles above and easier for your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.
You want to keep in mind that you still need to work the main muscles involved in sissy squats enough to see results.
This is where a downside of sissy squats shows up.
They tend to be relatively challenging in terms of balance which can make it so you fall down before you can successfully complete your set.
This can be even more the case if you have to do sissy squats with weights to see your desired results.
The balance challenge of sissy squats applies less if you have leg exercise equipment like a sissy squat bench.
Benefits of sissy squats
While they are often not the best choice, sissy squats do offer benefits. Some examples include:
- Stronger muscles: The balance aspect makes it harder but you should still be able to grow and strengthen your quadriceps with sissy squats.
- Balance and coordination: Challenging your balance with sissy squats can make you better in this area.
- Reduce injury risk: You can overdo it with sissy squats too but if you do them safely, they can help reduce your injury risk.
Sissy squats are not the only exercise that offers these benefits but if you like the effects and the movement you can still consider doing it more often.
Sissy squat alternatives
You could conclude that you like the benefits of sissy squats but not the exercise itself. In that case, some of these sissy squat alternatives can be a good idea:
- Leg extensions
- Smith machine squats
- Cannonball squats
- Bulgarian split squats
What muscles you want to work and what equipment you have available will influence your choice between these sissy squat alternatives a lot:
Are sissy squats a good exercise?
Sissy squats can be a decent exercise to isolate your quadriceps at home or wherever you don’t have exercise equipment.
At the same time, it is hard to really call sissy squats a good exercise since the balance aspect will often get in the way of your resistance training.
Even something relatively budget-friendly and easy to set up like a resistance band leg extension may align more with your training goals.
That being said, doing sissy squats the right way can still offer benefits like stronger quads, better balance, and reduced injury risk.
If you really like the exercise you could consider doing it more often. Potentially in combination with more effective movements too.
What are sissy squats good for?
Sissy squats are mainly good for isolating your quadriceps (front thigh muscles) if you don’t have a lot of weight available.
Are sissy squats good for knees?
Like many movements, sissy squats can be good or bad for the knees depending on who is doing them.
If you are relatively new to resistance training you likely want to start with other exercises or small sissy squats first.