With so many variations, squats are one of the most effective workouts you can perform. And while you may have heard and tried so many variations of it, you might still have missed a challenging one: the sissy squat.
Like other squats, sissy squats help improve your lower body strength and endurance while challenging your core. However, this workout is almost entirely different from other squats in terms of the way it must be performed. In this article, we are going to discuss what sissy squats are, how to perform these squats, and their variations.
What is Sissy Squats?
A sissy squat is a workout to train your quadriceps. During this workout, you must lean backward while bending from your knees to get lower. It doesn’t involve hinging from your hips, and hence, you won’t be sitting like during a traditional squat when getting lower.
Sissy squats can be extremely hard to perform without support, especially if you are a beginner. So you might need to hold on to something to keep your feet and calves in the correct position. This could be a barbell resting on the rack or a door frame. It will help you maintain your balance during the workout. Eventually, with optimal practice, you can perform this workout without support.
How to Perform Sissy Squats?
- Put a plate or something with a slight height on the ground and put your heels on it. Make sure that your toes rest on the floor.
- Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing forward. Grab support with your hands or put them on the hips.
- Now, start bending at your knees while leaning your body backward. This will induce tension in the front of your thighs.
- Continue leaning backward until your back cannot be lowered any further. And while doing so, ensure that your spine remains neutral. The body above your knees should be straight as a line.
- When you achieve the lower position, stop there for a few seconds, and slowly get back to the starting position.
Muscles Trained During a Sissy Squat
Sissy squats are primarily a workout to train your quads. Your glutes and hamstrings will not get much pumped during this workout, so your quads will have to ensure all the tension. The muscle that particularly gets more pumped during a sissy squat is the rectus femoris. This muscle starts from the pelvis and ends inside the tibia. In other words, a sissy squat trains the part of your quadriceps that connects your hips with your knees.
The basic sissy squat variation involves a stable core with a neutral back. The body above your knees up to your head must remain straight. This means that when performed accurately, sissy squats will train the muscles around your sides, back, and stomach.
Sissy Squat Variations
Sissy squats became a popular quad workout during the golden era of bodybuilding. This is perhaps why this workout continues to be so popular after so many years. In fact, there are several sissy squat variations you can perform to make your quad workout more challenging and rewarding.
Here is a brief overview of some most common sissy squat variations.
Weighted Sissy Squat
Weight sissy squats are one level up from the basic variation, simply because they add more weight to your torso. All you have to do is hold a dumbbell or a plate against your chest with one hand and grab a fixed object with the other hand. The rest of the movement is the same as the basic sissy squat.
Polymeric Sissy Squat
This variation introduces the use of equipment in your workout. The piece of equipment used in this regard is called a sissy squat bench to hold your feet and calves in place. Once your feet and calves are fitted into the machine, use your knees as a hinge to move your torso backward. This variation is different from the traditional sissy squats in a way that your knees do not move in front of your toes. Instead, it allows you to lean back as much as you can.
Gironda (3-Way) Sissy Squat
This sissy squat variation was introduced by Vince Gironda, one of the greatest bodybuilding figures of all time. He added a third step in the sissy squats to make them more challenging.
- Step one: Also known as knee drop, this step is performed the same way as you would with the traditional variation, i.e., core braced and heels above the toes. Now, bend your knees, move your knees forward, and lead your torso backward.
- Step two: Gironda named this step the Burlesque Bump. It is performed after you acquire the lower body position. It involves getting into the crouch position with your butt as close to the heels as possible. After that, you must perform the “burlesque bump” by moving your hips up to straighten your torso.
- Step three: Get back to the original position.
Single-Legged Sissy Squats
If you want to be more acrobatic with your sissy squats, single-legged sissy squats or pistol squats are certainly a way to go. This variation involves one leg as you squat down. This puts immense pressure on the quads of the leg being worked. Once you are finished with one leg, repeat the variation using the other.
Benefits of Sissy Squats
While sissy squats are not the only workout to train your quads, you will find them one of the best additions to your workout routine. Here are some of the benefits you can get with sissy squats.
- Muscle growth in your quads: The significant benefit of sissy squats is they train the right muscle in your quads by removing the hips from the equation. More specifically, this workout puts direct pressure on your knee extensors. It allows your quads to grow extensively.
- Greater dynamic balance: With your core braced throughout the workout, you will be able to balance your body in a much better way. The pause in this workout comes at a point when there is immense pressure on your quads and core. This would help you learn patience and have better control over your fine motor skills.
Do you want to train your quads in the most surprising way possible? Sissy squats are just the right workout to get there. With the challenge it proposes to your body, this workout gives amazing quad strength and core stability. However, like other workouts, sissy squats must be performed with progressions to avoid injury. You can speak to your fitness coach regarding how to incorporate this workout into your fitness routine.