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Bench Squat [Exercise Guide]

Bench Squat

Bench squat is an effective lower body workout if you aim to train for more complex squats with weights. Read on to learn about muscles worked, proper form, valuable practice tips, and more.

What Is A Bench Squat

The definition of the exercise hides in its name. It is a squat that implies using a bench. The technique is quite similar to a regular squat, except that your glutes will contact a bench when you reach the bottom of the movement. You can use a box or a chair if you don’t have a bench. The workout fits beginners and can be perfect preparation for more challenging squats.

What Muscles Does A Bench Squat Work?

The exercise targets:

  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Abdominals
  • Calves

Naturally, the quadriceps play a pivotal role in the squat’s effectiveness. These muscle fibers help in bending the knee. More quad activation will occur the farther you lean forward. The apex of the action is when you should feel the greatest tension in your glutes. The femur (thigh bone) is retracted as the pelvis is pushed.

How To Perform A Bench Squat

Step 1. Set up the bench height

The first thing to talk about is bench (box) height. Your upper leg bone should be parallel to the ground when you sit down. That’s crucial for correct technique. You should feel comfortable, and don’t hit the box, bench or chair when you go down.

Step 2. Get into the starting position

Keep your legs wider than shoulder-width apart. This nuance is important because it helps to reach the balance and screw feet into the floor in maintained external rotation. The wider one goes, the harder it is to force the knees into the proper position.

Step 3. Sit back

Sit back on the bench, hinging at the hips and maintaining a vertical shin. This aspect matters for the activation of posterior chain muscles. Keep your body tight and entirely under control as you go down. 

Step 4. Return to the start

When you come to a dead stop, use a touch of momentum to come back up through. Try not to slide forward, and don’t let your knees come out in front. The knees should stay in one line throughout the whole exercise. Use your glutes to come up.

Bench Squat Benefits

Teaches the proper squat depth

By positioning the bench such that the femurs are parallel, we are training ourselves to stop at the right point when the bench is no longer in use. Such a skill will be helpful for the vast majority of individuals who want to get the most out of each rep and also for sportsmen engaging in different competitions.

The bench can reassure beginners

Squatting with a barbell might be frightening for newbies. Having a bench to sit on is like having a little safety point. Using rack guards can be an option if your gym offers it.

Bench Squat Common Mistakes

Using an improperly sized bench or box

As we mentioned earlier, the height of the bench or box should be enough for you to stay parallel to the floor at the movement’s bottom. You won’t make the most of the motion if you stop too high or too low. The last option is even more harmful because it can lead to butt wink. This is the point at which the rounding of the lower back starts as the pelvis pulls beneath the body. There is a risk of back injury because of the strain on the spine.

Overloading the bench or being too relaxed

Do not treat the bottom part of the movement as a break. The muscles should stay tensed throughout the whole movement. Only proper form will strengthen targeted muscles and prepare your body for more challenging workouts.

Too straight back

Some sit on benches and allow their bodies to straighten by touching them. It is a common mistake. Too straight back position will force you to lean too much forward when moving from sitting to a vertical position. It’s wrong and potentially dangerous.

Bench Squat Variations

1. Barbell Bench Squat

This variation is basically the same as a bench squat but with adding extra weight. A Barbell bench squat is a perfect stepping stone to performing conventional barbell squats.

How to do barbell bench squat:

  • Get the bar out of the rack. Stand with the bar beneath your shoulders and position it such that it sits over your shoulder blades and below your upper trap. The bar must not be held too high, close to the neck level.
  • Hinge at hips and sit backward. Stop at the point when you are parallel to the floor and touch the bench’s surface.
  • Tap the bench and come back up.

2. Dumbbell Bench Squat

For several reasons, barbells are often avoided by gym-goers. Dumbbells are more practical since they need less time to set up.

How to do a dumbbell bench squat:

  • Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Grab a pair of dumbbells, holding them right at your side, tight to your body. 
  • Push your pelvis backward and squat, maintaining vertical shins. Lean forward a bit but keep your back relatively straight.
  • Touch the bench with your butt and return to the starting point.

3. Pistol Bench Squat

If you want to work up to a full pistol squat, pistol bench squats are a wonderful place to begin. As soon as you master the technique, you can make the bench lower. And eventually, your body will be ready for practicing the move without any boxes at all.

How to do a pistol bench squat:

  • Stand with feet somewhat broader than shoulder-width apart.
  • Lift the sole of one foot off the floor.
  • Drop to a kneeling position and put one leg before you while extending the other entirely.
  • Touch the box or bench behind you with your glutes, and revert to the beginning.


Bench squat is one of the best resistance exercises you can do for your lower body. It is a great workout that may help you get in shape and tone your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and abs. If you are not ready for the usual barbell squats, this exercise can be an excellent preparation. It will teach proper squatting depths and train to keep the body in the correct position. The main rules during the practice of this workout are to choose the bench of the right height and not to relax the muscles in the bottom part of the exercise. If you want to diversify the routine, try the Bench squat variations.

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