What are pile squats and how do you properly execute them? Here’s what beginners need to know about the pile squat and how to master them in no time!
In this article:
A Step-by-Step Guide to Mastering Pile Squats
What Is a Pile Squat?
Similar to air squats, pile squats are compound exercises that engage multiple lower body muscle groups. What sets this squat apart from regular squats since it does not focus on the quads.
By assuming a wider foot stance, the body shifts its weight from the quads to the inner thighs and hamstrings. Of course, pile squats still engage the quads, calves, and glutes as well.
For best results, do pile squats two to three times a week along with your leg day routine.
How to Perform Pile Squats?
Step 1: Warm Up the Lower Body
Before doing pile squats, fitness buffs should warm up their lower body muscle groups first. Not only will this prevent sprains and injuries, but it can also improve flexibility and performance.
Some good warm-up exercises to include are burpees, mountain climbers, and jumping jacks. You can also try other warm-up moves that can stimulate blood flow and loosen the joints.
Tip: Try not to perform more than 10 reps per set. Doing any more will quickly tire out the muscles and make them too weak for the actual workout routine.
Step 2: Get into Position
Place the feet about two to four inches wider than shoulder-width apart and then point them away from the body. Keep the back straight, slightly bend the knees, maintain a straightforward gaze, and pump the chest out. This is the starting position.
Step 3: Start Squatting
After getting into the proper pile squat position, it’s time to perform the exercise. Take a deep breath and then squat down by bending the knees.
Continue squatting until the thighs are parallel to the floor. You should feel your hamstrings and inner thighs stretching by the time your knees hit a 90-degree angle.
Hold for one count and then push your body back up by driving the heels through the floor. Remember to slowly exhale and keep the back straight while going back to the starting position. This is one rep.
Do three to four sets of 12 to 16 reps. Fitness buffs can try exploring other set and rep ranges to see which ones would align with their goals.
Pile Dumbbell Squat Variation
For those looking for a challenge, you can perform dumbbell pile squats instead. This variation will help engage the core muscles more.
Here are the steps:
- Get into the same starting position as the pile squat.
- Grab one end of the dumbbell with both hands so it will hang vertically.
- Position the arms in the middle of the body so the dumbbell hangs just below the waist near the crotch area.
- Start squatting down and focus on the proper form.
Tip: When choosing the weight of the dumbbell, start with a moderately heavy dumbbell that provides enough resistance when squatting up and down then gradually transition to heavier ones. Try to avoid lifting dumbbells that are too heavy because this can cause knee and back pain.
RELATED: How To Do A Bulgarian Split Squat
Pile Squat Benefits
How important are pile squats? Here are some of the reasons why every fitness buff and athlete should perform these exercises regularly:
1. Proportioned Thigh Growth
Barbell squats are great compound exercises, but they don’t work the hamstrings well enough. Solely performing regular squats will lead to an overdeveloped set of quads and underdeveloped pair of hamstrings.
To achieve a truly massive set of wheels, bodybuilders need to target every single muscle group in their body — this includes body parts like the hamstrings which are often forgotten.
Tip: For better hamstring growth, combine pile squats with Romanian deadlifts, sumo squats, and other hamstring and inner thigh workouts.
2. Improved Agility
Speed and power are important, but athletes shouldn’t forsake agility. An agile athlete has the ability to stop and move the body and then switch directions quickly.
This is important in various sporting activities like boxing, football, soccer, and basketball because most sports are a combination of fast- and slow-paced movements in different directions, right?
To improve your agility, you should focus on strengthening their hamstrings with exercises like pile squats. Combining them with cardiovascular exercises is the key to becoming a fast, unstoppable athlete who can last longer in the court, field, or ring.
3. Faster Sprinting Time
A lot of athletes believe that the key to speed is a solid pair of quads. This is a popular opinion among quad-dominant athletes.
While strong quads are important, the hamstrings directly affect the hip extension and knee flexion. These are two of the most important actions when walking, jogging, and running.
So if a sprinter wants to beat their record, they’ll need to train their hamstrings.
Tip: Along with the hamstrings, the glutes also play an important role in hip extension and knee flexion. Sprinters can try doing some glute exercises along with their hamstring workouts for best results.
4. Better Posture
Having strong hamstrings and glutes is important to maintain good body posture. These two muscle groups directly support the spine, so if they’re weak, you might slouch or arch your back excessively.
Also, weak hamstrings affect the way we walk. The legs won’t be able to make long, continuous strides if they have a weak set of hamstrings that cannot handle the impact from the ground.
5. Higher Jumping Power
For this one, both the quads and hamstrings play an equal role. They are the primary thrusters that allow the body to propel itself high up in the air.
To further increase jumping power, try other free-weight squat variations that target other lower body muscle groups. Make sure to hit every part including the glutes and calves for total development.
Watch this video from Paleo Hacks as Katie Horning demonstrates the perfect pile squats form plus other variations:
The pile squat is a great squat variation fitness buffs should definitely include in their leg day routine. It helps develop a strong pair of thighs that can help you jump higher, run faster, and lift heavier.
Although, keep in mind that a good workout routine is just one of the components of a complete fitness program. Give performance supplements a try to have more energy and sustain that energy throughout the workouts!
Do you think pile squats can be your go-to hamstring exercise? Tell us why or why not in the comments section below!