No hate on air squats, which are effective and useful in a pinch, but after five years of only bodyweight workouts, adding weights to my squats was a game changer. I started noticing a difference right away, not only in the aesthetic results but also in the strength I felt during my sets. It’s so satisfying to power up through a squat, feeling your legs and glutes firing, and it’s even better when you’re holding weights that you couldn’t even have lifted a few months ago.

If you’re new to working out, it’s definitely best to start with bodyweight squats so you can get the form down, which will help you avoid injuries. Check out this guide to learn how to perform a squat correctly and avoid common mistakes. Once bodyweight squats start to feel easy, add some light to medium weights (here’s a guide to choosing the right weight), and continue to up the weight every few weeks or as soon as it starts to get too easy again. This is called progressive overload, and it’s crucial for building muscle and strength.

You may also want to start with squats that are simple in form. If you’re intimidated by the barbell, for example, it’s fine to begin with dumbbell squats and work your way up. The goblet squat is one of my favourites because it is simple but effective, using just one dumbbell, and really targets your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Keep reading for other weighted variations you can add to your full-body and lower-body routines!

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