Achieve Your Ideal Physique - My Favorite Compound Movement for Hamstrings and Glutes

Posted on June 26, 2015 at 12:00 AM

With so many effective and challenging variations, the squat has secured its place in many training programs. Today I want to discuss a variation that isn't used frequently: the sumo squat. I love this exercise for its ability to target glutes, hamstrings, and adductors. Check out my vlog below for a demonstration of the exercise!

There are a few key points to remember, both for safety and for getting the most out of the exercise:

  • Choose a weight that is relatively light to start with. The goal is to pause for a moment below parallel and focus on lifting the weight with just your hamstrings and glutes. A lighter weight will allow you to get a better range of motion, while the pause at the bottom will make the lighter weight very challenging toward the end of the set!
  • Always make sure you're centered under the bar. Place your hands at equal places on the knurling (measured "rough" parts of the bar). With any bilateral exercise, an equally distributed load will help you push evenly from both sides.
  • Take a wide stance. Start with either your toes pointing out or facing forward. Whichever stance you choose, make sure your knees follow the same direction your toes are pointing. I like to alternate between the two, as I feel a little difference in the muscles worked by each angle. One of my favorite things about free weights is the ability to tailor grips, stances, and angles to make the exercise work best for you!
  • Keep your weight through your heels and keep your knees behind your toes, just like a traditional squat. When lifting the weight, think about pushing your knees out; a lot of us have a tendency to allow the knees to cave. This is another reason for choosing a lighter weight to start with. This exercise can also be done on the Smith machine which may help you learn your range of motion while relying on the machine for stability.
  • Try to feel the motion, rather than watch in the mirror. Developing the mind-muscle connection is a challenge, especially with muscles we can't easily see. I think it's important to keep the tempo slow and focus on the movement. When we look in the mirror durin a set, it's often at an angle that doesn't give us an indication of true depth, hip angle, keeping the back flat, or engaging the intended muscles. Try a few sets facing away from the mirror (with the light weight) and see if you can feel the difference!
  • Go for volume for muscle-building. I aim for 4-5 sets of 8-10 reps for these. Try to keep the time under tension to 45 seconds to a minute per set, and rest about a minute between sets.

The critical change in your physique occurs during those last few tough reps! I love PEAK ATP for helping me perform more of those last reps with energy and focus!

Thank you for reading! Until next time, train hard, y'all!

-Erin Stern, IFBB Figure Pro/USATF Competitor

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