Squats are the solid foundation of any fitness routine. With proper form, it doesn’t take long to feel the burn and see results. Standard squat variations—like sumo and single-leg—target your glutes and your quads, but kang squats are a posterior chain exercise, which means you’ll feel the burn everywhere. No, seriously. #SoreForDays was made for this move.
“A kang squat is a combination of a good morning and a back squat. It combines a hip dominant and knee dominant move all in one, making it much more challenging than a solo or good morning squat,” says Emily Samuel, a trainer at New York City’s Dogpound. “It’s more of an assistance exercise, meaning it will optimize your performance for other exercises.”
The kang squat might not be as commonly known as other varieties, but it’s one you’ll want to learn how to do. The movement is often used as part of CrossFit WODs.
“You’ll work essentially all the major muscle groups on your backside, including your hamstrings, glutes, back, and spinal erectors, as well as your rectus abdominis (what you think of when you think abs), your obliques (the muscles on the sides of your stomach), and your quads,” says Samuel.
How to perform kang squats
1. Get into position by racking the bar on your upper back. Squeeze your upper traps and shoulder blades together like you would for a back squat so it creates a muscular “shelf” for the bar to rest on.
2. Standing with your feet about hip-distance apart, and keeping your weight in the heels, shift your hips back with a soft bend at the knees. Your spine should stay neutral while keeping your core braced as you bend forward. If you have the flexibility, get to a point where your torso is parallel to the floor. If you don’t have the flexibility, just stop right before the point where your back feels like it wants to round forward.
3. From that bottom position, bend your knees and let them come forward and bring your torso more upright to transform into a deep squat position over the course of two slow counts. Focus on engaging your core the entire time.
4. Hold at the bottom of the squat for two slow counts.
5. Then, instead of standing up as you would in a regular squat, press through your heels and reverse the movement so that you return to the good morning position with your torso nearly parallel to the floor. From here, fully straighten your knees and stand back up. This final portion—returning to the good morning and then standing up—should be done over the course of two, slow counts.
Make simple squats (and other exercises!) even harder with tempo training. And try another move a celebrity trainer says is even better than squats.
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