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Heels Elevated Squats: The Ultimate Guide!

As we mentioned in the video, we are taking part in the “Do Your Knees In” challenge and will be participating in the inaugural Hike a Mile in Your Shoes event on October 23rd. To prep our legs for the event, we wanted to do a little research into the advantages of doing stances like elevated squat and the possibility that it has to do with our knees.

heels elevated squats are a powerful and effective exercise, but they aren’t the easiest move to master. If you’re looking to progress in this exercise, you need a clear guide to keep you on track. That’s why I’ve designed this guide to help you elevate your squats to the next level.

With all the research out there regarding the benefits of squats, it’s no surprise that they are this popular in the fitness world. However, the mere thought of squatting without any type of support underneath can be intimidating. Or even worse, you might be flat out scared of them. The truth is, you don’t have to squat in the same way that you would when using a squat rack.

There are many different ways to perform squats. You can squat like a powerlifter by spreading your legs and pulling your hips back. You can squat like an Olympic weightlifter when your buttocks almost touch the ground in the down position. You can even do squats with some special dumbbells, like. B. a safety squat bar or curved barbell. However, one of the strategies to get big, strong legs is to squat with your heels pulled up. The heel squat is very simple: You squat with your heels slightly raised and your toes on the ground. This type of squat has many benefits, including better squat depth, more work for the quadriceps and relief for the lower back. There are several ways to raise the heels in the squat position:

  • You can do squats in Olympic weightlifting shoes that lift your heels.
  • You can do squats with small 2.5 or 5 pound plates under your heels.
  • You can squat with a small wooden board under your heels.

Here’s a great demonstration of heel pulling: As you can see, the athlete squats on a small wooden platform with his heels up. He also wears special squat shoes that raise his heels even higher. The heel squat is a very effective exercise. There are three main reasons why you should use whole raise squats in your training program:

  • You improve the depth of the squats
  • You work harder on your quadriceps
  • You put less strain on your lower back

Let’s take a closer look at each of these benefits.

Advantage No. 1: Heel-lift squats Improve depth of squats

Many beginners, intermediate and even professionals struggle to perform squats with a full range of motion. According to the world’s greatest strength trainer, Charles Polikin, a “full range of motion squat” means that your hamstrings encircle your calves in the bottom position. Charles joked that squats should leave a stain on your butt on the gym floor! Here you can see a good demonstration of the full range of motion squat performed by Olympic weightlifting superstar Dmitry Klokov : Full range squats are very important because only in this way the muscles of the lower body are trained to their maximum potential, especially the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. Full squats stretch these muscles deeply, which is absolutely necessary to build size and strength. Full squats are especially important for training the medial oblique (vastus medialis oblique), a teardrop-shaped quadriceps muscle located on the medial side of the knee. If you are a powerlifter and are preparing for your next powerlifting competition, then parallel squats are the way to go. However, there is no substitute for full range of motion squats to build size and strength. One of the reasons people have trouble doing full squats is that their calves are too tense. If your calves are too tight, your heels will literally come off the ground before you fully lower yourself into a squat. One of the main benefits of the heel squat is that it allows you to squat all the way down, even if you’re not very limber! With the bottom squat, your calves and thighs are subjected to a much lower stretch when you lift your heels. This makes the heel squat an ideal choice for people who want to squat with a full range of motion while working on their flexibility.

Benefit #2: Elevated heel squats work harder on your quadriceps

Squats are one of those exercises where a small change in technique can have a significant impact on the muscle groups being trained. When you squat with your heels up, your quads have to work MUCH harder than normal. Just watch the video below: When you squat with your heels up, your knees extend forward over your toes in the down position. This is fundamentally different from powerlifting type squats, where the knees stay behind the toes in a low position. When your knees go past your toes, your quadriceps have to work much harder. The vastus medialis muscle (one of the four quadriceps muscles) has to work especially hard during heel squats. In the lowest position of the heel squat, the medial muscle is greatly stretched and must work with an increased load to stabilize the knee joint. This is a good thing because the vastus medialis is a weak muscle group for most practitioners. If you’re a bodybuilder and feel like reverse squats train your glutes more than your quads, you should try heel squats. They target your quads, and that’s exactly what you need!

Advantage #3: The squat with heel raise reduces the stress on the lower back

Many great athletes struggle with reverse squats. Bodybuilder Dorian Yates eliminated reverse squats from his leg training program because they put too much strain on the lower back and too little on the legs. One of the benefits of heel squats is that they put less strain on the lower back and lumbar spine. Just watch the video below: As you can see, the athlete’s upper body remains almost completely straight during the squat. This is normal for this type of squat. When you squat with your heels up, your knees go over your toes and your upper body stays straighter. This reduces the pressure on the lumbar spine and relieves the muscles of the lower back. Squats with heel raises are great for preventing lower back injuries, as well as speeding up the recovery process. You may be able to do squats or deadlifts more often because your lower back is less affected by squat training. Unfortunately, heel squats are not all rainbows and sunshine. They also have a few drawbacks that you should be aware of:

  • They put a lot of pressure on the knee joints.
  • They pay less attention to the back chain.
  • They are not ideal for powerlifters.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these disadvantages.

Deficiency #1: increased squatting increases stress on knee joints

This is the biggest disadvantage of squats with heel raises: You’re putting a lot of strain on your knees. If you have healthy knees and a strong vastus medialis muscle, heel squats won’t be a problem. However, if your knees are not in the best shape, this exercise can be difficult to perform (at least at this stage). There are several strategies you can use to perform this exercise without knee pain. First, you can try doing squats with higher reps. There is a big difference between squats with a maximum number of repetitions in 3 sets and a maximum number of repetitions in 12 sets. Using higher repetition ranges will greatly reduce the strain on your knees and allow you to get the full benefit of this exercise. Another option is to do squats with your heels up. For example: Research and practice have shown that front squats put much less pressure on your knees than traditional back squats. Front squats are less stressful on the major joints, including the knees, hips and lower back. A good strategy is to do heel curls for the bigger reps and heel curls for the smaller reps. This way, you can train each set of reps while minimizing the strain on your knees.

Deficiency #2: raised heel squat exerts less pressure on the posterior chain

The posterior chain is a family of three muscle groups on the back of the body:

  • Your hamstrings
  • Your buttocks
  • The lower back

These three muscles work together to help you with hip stretching exercises such as the squat, deadlift and hello. Squats with heels put more strain on the quadriceps, but reduce the strain on the hamstrings, glutes and lower back. If you use this exercise in your program, you should focus more on the exercises for the back chain, such as leg extensions, deadlifts, back extensions, etc. to ensure that they are adequately stimulated.

Defect #3: Heel squats are not ideal for powerlifters

If you are a powerlifter preparing for a powerlifting competition, you need to train like a player. In other words, you need to practice competitive lifting yourself. Some weightlifters squat with their heels up and use Olympic weightlifting shoes. For example, you can watch a video here of Chad Wesley Smith squatting 905 pounds in a competition in high heels. However, most powerlifters do harder squats with flat heels. The heel squat can be a great off-season exercise if your goal is to improve muscle size and build a good strength base. But when it comes to preparing for the game, you really need to practice your game.

The best squat variations with raised heels

There are many variations of heel-lift squats that you can try. Here are some of the most effective variations to get big, strong legs:

  • Dumbbell Squat
  • Front and back squats
  • Bikers squat
  • 1.25 Stops
  • Klokow squat

Let’s take a closer look at each of these exercise variations.

Variation for year 1: Dumbbell Squat

Dumbbell squats are an underrated type of exercise. The idea is simple: You do a squat while holding a pair of dumbbells. Here is a good video of dumbbell squats on heels: When you do barbell squats, your center of gravity is much lower than with a traditional squat. This will make the exercise less stressful on your legs and lower back. A lower center of gravity also gives this exercise a very different feel than traditional squats. In my experience, this exercise works well at the end of a lower body tri set or a giant set. You can really focus on muscle fatigue without worrying about balancing a dumbbell on your back or getting out of breath. Unfortunately, this exercise is difficult to perform with heavy weights, so it shouldn’t be your primary lower body exercise.

Variation for year 2: front and back squat

When most people think of the heel squat, they think of the back squat. The squat is an excellent exercise. However, most people will get better results if they spend as much time training the back squat as the front squat. In my experience, the heel raise front squat is particularly effective for training the lower body. Here’s a great video: The front squat puts more pressure on your quadriceps than the back squat. It’s also easier on your knees, hips and lower back, which is important no matter what your training goal is. The main disadvantage of the front squat is that it cannot be performed for higher reps. If you try to do more than 6 reps per set, your upper back muscles may start cutting in front of your legs and your upper body will roll forward, causing the bar to fall off your shoulders.

Variation for year 3: Squatting for cyclists

Squats with high heels are good because they train your quads more than usual. If you really want to kill your quads, you should try heel squats. For example: This exercise is often called the cyclist’s squat, as many world-class cyclists have used it to increase the size and strength of their quadriceps. For the same reasons, it is also called the quadriceps squat. A tight posture forces your quadriceps, and especially your vastus medialis, to work harder than normal. Squats where your heels are high and close together are a real torture for your quadriceps! Make sure your heels are not too close together. For safety reasons, I would not place them closer than 10 cm to each other.

Variation for year 4: 1.25 Hurk

The next variation of the whole squat I want to teach you is called the 1.25 or quarter squat. This technique is quite complicated, so here is a video tutorial: As you can see, the athlete squats all the way down, turns a quarter turn, squats all the way down, and then squats again until he’s locked in. This counts as 1 repetition in total. The 1.25 squat is ideal for developing bigger, stronger legs because it increases the amount of time you spend in the bottom position of the exercise. They are great for making you stronger in the down position and help you to overload your quadriceps muscles. A combination of heel raise squats and 1.25 raise squats is a great way to combat plateaus!

Variation for year 5: Klokov-Hocke

Dmitry Klokov is a former Olympic weightlifting champion. He popularized a style of squatting that uses a very slow eccentric phase and a long pause in the bottom position. Here’s a perfect example: The athlete in this video does squats at a pace of 7/6/X/0. That is, he does squats with a 7 second down phase, a 6 second pause in the down position, and an explosive lift phase. Klokow squats are so effective because they overload your eccentric strength. A long isometric pause in the down position is also good, as it eliminates the stretch reflex and forces you to use only your muscles to lift the weight before you turn on. The athlete in the video does Klokow squats with his heels up to force the quadriceps, and in particular the vastus medialis muscle, to work even harder in the down position. Best Heel Lift Squat Exercises Heel squats can be used in almost any squat program imaginable. They can be used for everything from high repetition hypertrophy exercises to low repetition strength exercises. Because I’m a good guy, I’ll show you 2 great heel squat exercises you can use today to build big, strong legs. Here are the names of two treatments:

  • Super sets after exhaustion
  • Klokow Squats

These exercises were chosen because they work well with the heel crutches. Let’s take a closer look at each of these procedures.

Route 1: Supersets after quitting

Super sets after exhaustion are a great way to train for muscle hypertrophy. The idea is simple: They do supersets that include compound and isolation exercises. Here’s the exact protocol:

  • Perform the compound exercise to failure, then rest for 10 seconds.
  • Perform the isolation exercise to failure, then rest 2-4 minutes and repeat!

Studies have shown that supersets after exhaustion are superior to supersets before exhaustion in most cases. They activate more motor units in the targeted muscle groups and better stimulate growth in size and strength. Here’s a heel lift squat routine after exhaustion you might want to try.

Look at this:

Routine supersets after exhaustion

  • A1 : Squat (close position / heels up), 3-5 x 8-10, 3/0/X/1, 10 seconds rest
  • A2 : Machine squat, 3-5 x 15-20, 2/0/1/0, rest 180 seconds
  • B1 : Bilateral leg extension (Polikin method/legs point inward), 3-5 x 6-8, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest.
  • B2 : Romanian deadlift, 3-5 x 12-15, 2/0/1/0, rest 180 seconds

Here are the training videos: Exercise A1, Exercise A2, Exercise B1, Exercise B2. This program includes two supersets after exhaustion: one for the quads and one for the hamstrings. This procedure can be done every 3 to 7 days depending on your ability to recover. I know some of you will look at this routine and say: This volume is not enough. Trust me, if you do 5 supersets on your quads and 5 supersets on your hamstrings, you’ll be crawling out of the gym! This routine is a good option for a bodybuilder who wants to overcome a hypertrophy plateau in the legs.

Route #2: Klokov-Hocke

I showed you the Klokov squats earlier in this article. They are great for eliminating plateaus during squats and are a good choice if you like doing squats with high heels. Klokow squats are performed for one rep, but the pace is very slow, so they put less strain on your nervous system than a true max rep. Here’s a Klokow squat exercise with heel raise you can try.

Look at this:

Klokow routine squat

  • A1 : Squat (center position/wheel up), 6-8 x 1, 7/6/X/0, 240 seconds rest
  • B1 : 45 degree leg press with straps, 2 x 8-10, 4/0/1/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1 : 45 degrees back stretch with bands, 2 x 8-10, 3/0/X/1, 120 seconds rest
  • D1 : Rope pull (Sumo Rack), 2 x 8-10, 4/0/1/0, 120 seconds rest

Here are the training videos: Exercise A1, Exercise B1, Exercise C1, Exercise D1. For this exercise, I recommend doing 6-8 simple squats with heel raises. You should NOT use the true maximum of one repetition for this exercise. Instead, I recommend using a weight that allows you to do about 2 reps, at the same rate of 7/6/X/0. This can be about 85-90% of your normal maximum strength in one repetition. Really do your best with heel squats. The rest of the routine can be considered side work. You still want to push the supplemental exercises, but they are less important than 6-8 sets of squats.


The heel squat is a very useful exercise variation to include in your training program. It has many advantages over traditional squats:

  • Increase the depth of squats
  • He’s working hard on his quads.
  • Reduces the strain on the lower back

It’s hard to believe that lifting your heels during the squat can make such a big difference! I’m not saying flat whole squats are dangerous or ineffective. However, the heel squat is a very useful exercise that will help you reach your growth and strength goals faster. I recommend alternating squats with and without a heel pad over a period of time for best results. For example, you can do squats with flat heels for 2-4 weeks, then squats with high heels for 2-4 weeks. You can also lift your heels in more specific variations of squats, such as B. in the bicycle squat, the 1.25 squat and the Klokow squat. If you’re mentally bored with your routine, your body is probably bored too. Sometimes the best way to make progress is to expose your body to a new training stimulus so it can adapt. Powerlifting guru Louis Simmons has a phrase that is very relevant here: If your body has all the answers, you must change all the questions! Thanks for reading and good luck with your strength training! Dr. Mike Jansen. I am the creator and owner of Revolutionary Program Design. I help advanced athletes take their training to the next level and achieve results they didn’t even know they had.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is it bad to squat with heels elevated?

Everybody knows that squatting with heels elevated is a bad idea. Many think it’s the most dangerous thing you can do for your knees. However, many people also don’t stop doing it. And, as time has passed, we’ve learned that most of us aren’t squatting with heels elevated because we know it’s bad for our knees, but because we’re ignorant of the dangers of doing so. Squats are a staple of crossfit and many other types of strength training. Yet, many people choose to try to aim for a perfect squat instead of trying to perfect technique. This is a mistake. Technique is more important than your perfect form. Which means perfect form is only a means to an end. Whether you are aiming for a perfect bottom, perfect depth of your squat, or perfect flexibility just to give your knees an extra rest between each rep, you need to go all out.

What is the purpose of squatting with plates under heels?

This text is sensitive. Try generating new copy. Many people today are starting to squat with plates under their heels, with the idea that it will increase their core strength, flexibility and improve their body composition. However, many people do not realize that this is a non-uniform method of training, which can lead to overuse injuries. Even if you choose to lift in a gym, you should always have an incline bench at the ready, which is far safer and is the most effective way to train your core.

What to use to elevate heels for squats?

The squat is a perfectly fine exercise, and the only one that provides a full-body workout. However, if you want to intensify your workout, then the heels elevated squat is just what you need! By using a platform to elevate your heels, you can effectively work your lower body, hamstrings, core, glutes, and more! The art of squatting is one of the most basic and fundamental positions in any fitness routine, and the squat is a popular choice for a lot of workouts. However, doing a regular squat with a pair of heels elevated on a bench can be a little tricky. While it may look that simple, it really isn’t—especially when you consider all the factors that can go wrong. If you’re struggling with squats with heels on a bench, read on to learn what to use to elevate your heels and prevent injury.

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