There are many different ways to improve your current exercise routine. What about doing squat walks, what will the effects be?
Squat walks are a variation of regular squats where you do a regular squat but hold your position at the bottom of the movement and you walk forward instead of just going up and down in place.
Squat walks can help you build leg muscle mass which is helpful for other fitness goals like losing weight, improving athletic performance, and looking more toned. Compared to regular squats, the walking version engages your hip flexor muscles slightly more.
You may need to make the bodyweight version more challenging soon to keep seeing a lot of muscle growth and strength progress.
That being said, for building the most amount of muscle mass in the least amount of time, more dynamic leg exercises with a bigger range of motion are generally more effective.
Whether you should add squat walks or alternatives to your routine depends on things like your personal situation, personal preference, and training goals.
How to do a squat walk
To do a squat walk take the following steps:
- Stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width.
- 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.
- Stay at more or less the same height with your hips as you take a few steps forward.
The main attention point when doing squat walks is keeping your back more or less straight. Especially if you do this exercise with weights.
If low squat walks are currently too hard for you, you can start by lowering your body only a small amount. Holding your arms forward for balance is also definitely an option.
You can also do squat walks backward. This will be more challenging when it comes to balance and coordination.
Another way to make squat walks harder is by wearing a heavy weighted vest, using resistance bands, or carrying weights like dumbbells, a barbell, kettlebells, etc.
Doing squat walks faster is also an option to make this exercise more of a cardio challenge. However, if this is your goal other exercises like running, swimming, or cycling may be better choices.
Muscles worked with squat walks
Some of the primary muscles worked with squat walks include:
Some of the secondary muscles worked with squat walks include:
- Erector spinae
- Hip flexors
Compared to regular squats, you will spend more time bent forward for balance when doing squat walks. This makes it so compared to regular squats you may engage your lower back and core muscles slightly more.
Your hip flexors will also have to work slightly harder because you have to raise your thighs to take steps.
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.
A downside of squat walks is that your muscles go through a relatively small range of motion. A bigger range of motion is generally more helpful for building a lot of muscle in the shortest amount of time.
One way to counteract this to some extent is by adding extra resistance to squat walks. This way 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.
Depending on your personal situation, workout plan, and training goals, squat walks may be a good or bad addition.
Squat walk benefits
Some people question how useful this exercise can be but adding squat walks to your routine can still offer you some amazing benefits.
While squat walks do engage your muscles in a smaller range of motion, most of their benefits are similar to regular squats but to a lesser extent. Some of the most important ones include:
- Stronger muscles: Squat walks are a type of resistance training that can help you strengthen your leg muscles.
- Can help with losing weight: Doing squat walks likely requires more energy than your regular daily activities. Extra muscle mass also helps with burning more calories, especially big muscles like your legs. Both of these aspects can help with, but are no guarantee for, weight loss.
- Improves mood: Exercise like squat walks promotes the release of substances that help you feel good.
- Balance and coordination: Balance and coordination are fitness skills that can be improved by challenging them. Squat walks can help you with this.
- Improves sleep: Exercise like squat walks can improve the quality and duration of your sleep which in turn offers many important benefits.
- Slows down aging: Squat walks 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.
- Flexibility and mobility: Squat walks can push your boundaries when it comes to range of motion of certain body parts. By doing this you can gain some flexibility and mobility.
While inevitably many workouts are better for some of these benefits than squat walks, 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 squat walks 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 squat walks 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 squat walks are not (yet) for you.
Squat walk alternatives
While squat walks can be a good addition to your workout routine, there are also some alternatives available for training your leg muscles. Some of these squat walk alternatives include:
- Other squat variations
- High knees
- Bulgarian split squats
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 squat walks with the right technique to their routine. That being said, leg exercises with a bigger range of motion are generally more effective for building muscle.
If you do decide to implement squat walks you will likely want to do them with weights relatively soon because bodyweight squat walks will become too easy.
Another thing you need to remember is that doing squat walks 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 squat walks.
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 squat walks is a workout you love, great. If not other exercises can also offer a lot of benefits.
If you do decide to implement more squat walks make sure you give your body enough nutrients, rest, and sleep to repair and grow your muscles.