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But if you’re looking for a squat variation that’s a little more advanced and challenging, it might be time for you to bow to the *king* of squats — the Kang squat, that is. The Kang squat is a squat variation that combines a back squat with a good morning.
Here’s a step-by-step guide for performing this weight lifting move safely and effectively.
The Kang squat is supposedly named after Shin-Ho Kang, a world-renowned weight lifting coach. It is a cross between a back squat, which is a weight squat performed with a barbell, and a good morning, which is a strengthening exercise that helps prepare the body for other lifts.
Essentially, the Kang squat is a good morning that leads into a back squat. You can do it with or without weights, just remove the weight from our directions below.
Here are the steps
- First, position your barbell over your shoulders and grasp it firmly — while standing with feet shoulder-width apart.
- Next, complete the good morning. Hinge at your hips and lower your chest until it is parallel to the floor.
- Then, sit back — lowering your hips and bending your knees — into a squat position.
- Return slowly to the good morning position by straightening your legs.
- Return slowly to your starting position.
You will want to use a weight that will allow you to comfortably complete 3 sets of roughly 10 reps each.
The Kang squat isn’t just something you decide to do one day — especially if you’re new to weight lifting. It’s a fairly advanced move that should only be performed by people who already have experience using the barbell on their shoulders. Here are some other tips to help you ensure your safety as you perform Kang squats:
- Practice the moves several times with an unweighted barbell until you’re comfortable with the mechanics, before adding weight.
- Keep your core engaged, avoid rounding your back, and don’t lock your knees — all of which will help prevent injury.
- Perform the move with a kettlebell held at your chest if you don’t feel comfortable using a barbell.
By way of putting the back squat and the good morning together, the Kang squat boasts an impressive degree of muscle activation — including the shoulders, back, glutes, quads, and hamstrings. These muscles, all found on the back side of your body (except your quads), are also known as the posterior chain.
And the posterior chain is a serious BFD. One research review found that posterior chain exercises were a significantly more effective treatment for low back pain than general exercise or walking. Which makes sense — the strength of the entire back side of your body is gonna play a huge role in your overall strength, mobility, and flexibility.
So — work that posterior. The Kang squat can help.
The other benefit of the Kang squat is mostly due to the good morning portion of the exercise. Good mornings are typically performed to help strengthen the glutes, hamstrings, and back muscles for better clean and jerks, snatches, and squats. The squat portion of the Kang squat is a little added bonus that brings the quads into the mix.
The Kang squat differs from a normal squat because of the good morning that’s tacked on at the very beginning. This gives the Kang squat more involvement with the muscles in the back and shoulders than a standard squat. However, there are several other squat variations that you might wanna try (for the gains):
- Overhead squat. This squat involves holding a weight overhead as you squat. It requires more core engagement than a conventional squat and includes an isometric (stationary) hold of the weight overhead, which can work wonders for your arms.
- Squat jacks. Jumping jacks, but make them hellish. You’ll be feeling the burn in your legs with this squat variation, which combines squats with jumping jacks — and it doubles as a cardio workout, too.
- Goblet squat. In this squat variation, you hold a weight to your chest while squatting. This helps activate the anterior chain, or the front of your body.
- Sumo squat. Not the most flexible? The sumo squat is a great starting point. In this squat variation, you start with your legs spread very wide and toes pointing out. Your squats will be shallow, but you’ll definitely feel them.
- Split squat. The split squat challenges your balance, forcing you to really depend on your core. In this variation, you’ll be squatting with one leg behind you.
If you’re a dedicated weight lifter, the Kang squat might be just what you need to mix it up, strengthen your posterior chain, and help your body to prepare for more advanced and involved lifts. This move — a cross between a back squat and a good morning — involves the shoulders, back, hamstrings, and quads to work the full posterior chain so you can go out with a *kang*.