The Romanian squat is a simple strength exercise that makes use of a weight. The quads, as with most squats, benefit the most from this workout.
The calves, hamstrings and glutes are also engaged as the exercise targets the legs and butt. A number of people shy away from compound movement work outs but with the right guide you’ll find it easier than you expect.
- Set up a bar with your preferred weight.
- Facing the barbell, planting the feet at hip distance with the toes facing forward.
- Then grip the handle with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder width.
- Place the bar on your upper back or just below the shoulders.
- Your elbows should be directly under the bar as you face forward.
- Bend the knees to go down into a quarter squat.
- Straighten your knees and bounce on your heels to raise the heels off the ground.
- This is one rep. Perform ten reps for three sets.
MUSCLES WORKED BY THE ROMANIAN SQUAT
The quadriceps, or quads for short, are located in the front of the thigh. From the name you can probably guess that they are made up four muscles; the rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis and vastus medialis. They extend the knee and stabilize the knee joint. They also flex the hip, abduct the thigh and externally rotate the thigh.
The gluteal muscles that is, the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus are the muscles around the butt region. They are responsible for hip abduction, extension and rotation. Nearly every squat workout is guaranteed to work the glutes. This is a bonus for most female gym-goers as it tones and defines the butt.
The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle among the glutes and forms most of what we know as the butt. The gluteus medius is found in the pelvis. The smallest of the three is the gluteus minimus which is located right under the gluteus medius.
The semimembranosus, semitendinosus and biceps femoris all make up the hamstring. Like the quads, these muscles are located in the thigh. The hamstrings are crucial for extension of the knee in order to walk, run and squat.
The calf is found in the posterior part of the leg made up of the ‘gastroc’ and soleus. The calf is responsible for flexion of the ankle enabling you to move forward when walking.
Made up of the obliques, pelvic floor, erector spinae and rectus abdominis etc., the core spans a large area of the body. It is what most refer to as the torso. The main functions of these muscles include stabilization of the thorax and spine, flexion and rotation of the trunk of the body.
BENEFITS OF THE ROMANIAN SQUAT
Exercises involving weights tend to increase strength with an increase in muscle build. The Romanian squats increase leg and core strength. Stronger legs mean improved stability, enhanced endurance performance and better body aesthetic. In general, the compound movement in this workout builds strength in the body.
Calorie burning is a major goal for working out. You probably want to burn fat just as much as the next guy. Squat exercises like this are meant to achieve that goal. As the intensity of the work out increases, the body tends to use fat or carbs in the body as fuel to carry on. This is how weight is lost through burning fat.
One of the main functions of the core is stabilizing the spine. As the core is engaged in the Romanian squats, the muscles keeping the spine stable and erected are strengthened. This along with keeping the right form ensures a proper posture.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE ROMANIAN SQUAT
BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUAT
The Bulgarian squat is a slight variation to the single-leg squat. It makes use of a weight that is, a kettlebell or dumbbell.
- Stand in front of a bench (back to bench), chair or stool while gripping a single kettle bell with both hands close to the chest.
- Your legs should be hip-width apart.
- Place the top of your right foot on the bench behind you. Maintain the hip-width distance between your legs.
- Bend the left knee as if you are doing a lunge. Allow the right knee to bend naturally alongside it.
- You may hinge at the hip slightly in order to go down comfortably but keep the spine neutral.
- Do five reps before switching legs.
This is a very simple non-equipment exercise that works the legs and core.
- Stand straight facing forward with the feet planted at hip-width. This is your starting position.
- Step back with the right foot. The right knee should be slightly bent but the left leg stays in place.
- Drop the knee of the right leg close to the floor as you bend the right knee to a ninety-degree angle. Keep your weight in your left leg.
- Through this motion, the left foot remains in place.
- Use the left leg to bring your weight up as you rock back into your starting position.
- Now step back with your left leg while the right one stays rooted in place.
- Continue alternating the feet until you’re done with the set.
Another strength exercise like the Romanian squat, the step up is a low intensity workout for the butt and legs.
- Stand upright in front of a bench or stool lower than knee height.
- Place the entire right foot on the bench.
- Shift your weight to the right foot as you stand on the bench.
- Pause when your hips are aligned. Keep your left foot dangling.
- Drop the left leg to the ground only propelling yourself on the right one.
- Do five reps before switchting legs.
COMMON MISTAKES WHEN DOING THE ROMANIAN SQUAT
ROUNDING THE BACK
Don’t ruin your posture through poor form! Rounding the back is a sure way to do this. No matter what variation of the squats you’re going with, the spine should stay neutral. If you feel like you’re not stable enough try engaging the core to distribute your weight.
SQUATING TOO LOW
It’s been specified that the Romanian squats involves quarter squats. This is a shallow squat compared to the standard. Remember you have a weight on your upper body which should stable. Squatting too low could completely ruin your stability and possibly lead to an injury.
Breathing is crucial to every work out and even more so if weights are involved. Breathe into your belly when going down into a quarter squat. This ensures you’re getting the oxygen you need to push through your work out and stabilize your core. Breathe out when you bounce on your heels.
The Romanian squat is the right work out to improve the strength and look of your legs. Quite a number of people make it a habit to skip leg work outs but this only disadvantages the individual eventually. To avoid having a disproportionate build try this exercise. You just can’t go wrong with this one.