For my money, squats are the all-around most effective lift you can do. They add more muscle while burning more calories than any other weight training exercise. If you want to build muscular strong quadriceps or just tone and define your thighs and glutes, squats are the answer. More concerned with performance? Squats will help you jump higher, run faster, drive your golf ball further, and make your tennis serve faster.
Here at the gym, we do literally hundreds of squat variations. Powerlifting squats, Olympic squats, front squats, box squats, squats with chains, jump squats, Zercher squats, kettlebell front squats, single leg squats, etc. But here is a little-known squat variation that melts fat while it improves anaerobic conditioning and builds muscle in your quadriceps and calves: Metabolic Rhythm Squats.
To perform metabolic rhythm squats, load a barbell with a weight you would use for a set of twenty barbell back squats. Rack the barbell on your back and assume a shoulder width stance with your toes pointed forward. Perform ten quarter squats coming up onto your toes on each rep. Immediately perform ten more quarter squats, followed by ten more quarter squats to your toes, ten more quarter squats, and finally ten more quarter squats to your toes for a total of 50 reps. The amount of knee bend is small (four to six inches for most people) and the tempo is quick. The following video will help illustrate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fj6MyNhJmu4&feature=player_embedded
If fat loss is your main goal, try putting these at the end of a full body circuit. Here is one option:
A1) Front Lunge with Forward Reach (left leg) – 15 reps
A2) Standing DB Shoulder Press – 12 reps
A3) Front Lunge with Forward Reach (right leg) – 15 reps
A4) Negative Only Chin-ups – 5 10 second negatives
A5) Metabolic Rhythm Squats – 50
By the end of this circuit your heart should be pounding out of your chest and your lungs should be on fire. If they are not, you took too much rest between exercises or the weights you selected were too light. Perform four circuits, resting three minutes between each circuit.
If you are trying to increase muscle mass while getting cut up, try the following workout:
A) Wide Stance Box Squats with Chains (use a ten to twelve inch box) – 12×3 with 30 seconds rest between sets.
A good starting weight is 50% of your one rep max plus chains. If you squat between 250 and 350 pounds, use two chains. If your 1RM is over 350 use three. If your 1RM is less than 200 pounds focus on a more basic program like five sets of five: this workout isn’t for you!
When done correctly this should be a posterior chain movement. In other words, you should feel this one in primarily in your glutes and hamstrings.
B) Double Kettlebell Front Squats – 6×10 with one minute rest between sets.
C) Metabolic Rhythm Squats – 4×50 with two minutes rest between sets.
Be prepared to not walk right for at least four days!