The plie squats exercise is like a normal squat but your thighs are further apart from each other, just like you’re doing the plie motion.
The squat is a great exercise to work on your lower body muscles. The front and rear squats do a great job of targeting your quads and glutes.
However, unlike the plie squat, they fail to target the adductor (inner thigh) muscles.
To do the plie squat exercise:
- Stand in the traditional squat starting position with your toes pointed forwards and your hands clasped together at your chest.
- Take a step to the side with your right foot until your stance is about four feet wide. The stance should be wider than hip-width but not so wide that you can’t perform the move correctly.
- Angle your toes about 45 degrees away from the midline of your body. Keep your knees tracking over your toes.
- Move your hips back slightly and bend your knees as you lower your body into a squat position. Draw your butt straight to the floor. Ensure to engage your core, keep your spine neutral and your eyes forward.
- Lower until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Shorten the squat or go lower if maintaining your thighs in a parallel position makes it difficult to maintain the squat.
- Hold the squat position for a few seconds. Drive up through your heels while tightening your glutes.
- Perform at least three sets of 8-12 reps.
You can hold a kettlebell to make the squat more challenging.
WHAT MUSCLES DO PLIE SQUAT WORK?
Known in full as the quadriceps femoris muscle, it is made of four individual muscles that are found on the front of the thigh.
They originate from the upper hip bones and thigh bones then come together at the kneecap.
Quads help extend the leg at the knee joint and flex the thigh at the hip joint.
The four quads are:
The vastus lateralis is the largest of the four. It runs along the outside of the thigh.
The vastus medialis is the teardrop muscle. It runs along the inside of the thigh.
The vastus intermedius is the deepest of the four muscles. It runs between the other two vastus muscles.
The rectus femoris crosses both the knee and hip joints. It is the only quad muscle to do this.
Plie squats are a great exercise to engage your quads but they don’t isolate them.
Your hamstrings consist of three muscles found on the back of the thigh.
They are made of the biceps femoris, the semitendinosus and the semimembranosus.
They all run from the lower pelvis except the biceps femoris which originates from the lower femur to the tibia.
The hamstrings play an important role in hip extension, hip hyperextension and knee flexion.
Glutes are a group of three muscles that make up the booty.
They are made of the gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus and gluteus medius. They start at the bottom of your spine and end at the femur.
The gluteus maximus is the largest and is responsible for the rounded shape of your butt.
The other two muscles assist it in moving and stability.
When you move your thigh backwards, forwards or rotate it, you engage your glutes.
Adductors are a group of five muscles found in the inner thigh. These muscles help bring the thighs together towards the midline of the body.
The hip adductors are made up of the following muscles:
Adductor brevis is the shortest of the hip adductors. Its main functions are to adduct the thigh, hip flexion and external rotation of the thigh.
Adductor longus is the forward-most of the hip adductors. Its main function is adduction of the thigh at the hip joint. It helps with flexion of the thigh when extended.
Adductor magnus is the largest hip adductor muscle. It supports flexion and extension of the thigh.
Gracilis is one of the weaker adductor muscles. It assists with flexing and internal rotation of the leg at the knee.
Pectineus is located on the upper middle part of the thigh. This muscle flexes and adducts the thigh at the hip joint.
The plie squat helps stretch and strengthen these muscles.
These are the diamond-shaped muscles found on the backs of your lower legs.
They are made of the soleus and gastrocnemius.
The soleus is the larger muscle. It originates from the back of the tibia to the Achilles tendon. It powers the action of pointing the toes down.
The soleus and gastrocnemius support the lower body and provide knee and ankle stability.
PLIE SQUATS BENEFITS
1. IMPROVED BALANCE
Adding plie squats to your workout routine can help you improve your balance.
Strengthening your adductors makes it easier to make lateral moves.
2. IMPROVED ATHLETIC ABILITY
Strong hip adductors enable your body to produce more rotational power.
This internal rotation of the hips is vital for sports like baseball or tennis.
Plie squats also improve your deadlifts.
3. REDUCE THE RISK OF INJURY
When you’re an active athlete, a common injury is the groin pull. This is caused by tight or weak hip adductors.
Strengthening and stretching your adductors reduces the risk of this injury when doing other activities.
ALTERNATIVES TO PLIE SQUATS
1. STANDING LEG CIRCLES
To do this exercise:
- Stand with your legs hip-width apart.
- Lift one leg off the ground.
- While balancing on one leg, complete small circles with the lifted leg.
2. SIDE LEG RAISE
To do this exercise:
- Lie down on your side with your elbow and forearm on the ground bracing your upper body.
- Raise your top leg as far as you can and hold the position.
- Lift your bottom leg to your other leg until they touch then lower both legs to the starting position.
PLIE EXERCISE MISTAKES TO AVOID
Don’t overdo the plie. If you aren’t flexible enough, you may strain your adductors. If you can’t position your legs at 3ft apart, do more stretching exercises while still doing the traditional squat until you have adjusted.
When you finally start the squats, start with a narrower stance and work your way up to a full plie.
Rely on bodyweight at first before adding resistance. The plie squat is still highly effective with just your body.
Don’t lift your heels or let your knees cave in towards your body.
Remember to keep your spine neutral and your torso upright. If you add resistance, ensure the weight doesn’t pull you forward.