The Trainer-Approved ‘Sissy Squat’ Will Work Your Abs, Glutes, and Quads All at Once

Photo: Getty Images/Westend61

Squats are one of those exercises that seem to appear in nearly every workout from Pilates to traditional strength training. Whether you love squats or could go the rest of your life without doing them, they're great for strengthening your lower body, specifically your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. As you probably already know, there are a ton of squat variations you can do, and one of the best for hitting your quads (aka your thighs) is the sissy squat.

Benefits of the sissy squat

Unlike traditional squats, where you push your hips backward as if you were sitting in a chair, the sissy squat feels like you're a ballerina of sorts. You perform them high on your toes, and instead of hinging at the hips, you try to lower your knees to the ground out in front of you.

They require a lot of focus and balance and aren't ideal for total beginners, but they're so worth it. The sissy squat is a great addition to your strength routine because it isolates your quadricep muscles, in addition to strengthening your hip muscles, knees, and your core. Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

How to do a sissy squat

Remember how I said sissy squats require focus and aren't for beginners? Well, I mean it. If you're new to this exercise, I recommend trying it for the first time with a professional (a sports performance expert, a physical therapist, or a certified personal trainer) around for support. You don't need any weights to do this movement, but you may want to hold two PVC pipes or workout bars arms-distance in front of you for extra support.

  1. Start standing tall with your feet about hips-width distance apart. Engage your core and glutes.
  2. With control and maintaining full hip extension (think about creating a straight line with your torso), raise up onto your toes. Your arms can be extended out in front of you, or you can hold onto PVC pipes or another stick-like object for support in front of your body.
  3. Begin to lower into your squat, driving your knees forward while maintaining a tall upper body. Be sure to keep your heels elevated as you lower down to the ground.
  4. Lower down as far as you can go while maintaining proper form.
  5. From the end position, you can lower your heels to the ground and stand up normally, returning to the starting position.
  6. This counts as one rep. Repeat for a total of three sets of six reps.

Need a squat refresher? Watch the following video to learn how to do a traditional squat, the right way: 

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