The squat is a beast of an exercise. But taking your first steps into the squat rack can be a scary experience. After all, it’s not natural for a person- let alone a skinny person- to stick a 300lb barbell on their back right? Or is it? And what about dumbbell squats and bodyweight squats? Are they effective?! This post explains if skinny guys should do squats.
Skinny guys can do squats to shape and strengthen the lower body. It is a highly effective exercise to work the leg, core, and lower back muscles. However, squats are not essential and other exercises can also train the same muscles that are involved in squatting.
As an ex-skinny guy, I was never a fan of the squat.
I found it difficult, intimidating, and downright unnecessary (even ineffective!).
But then I started trying them out to see what all the fuss was about, and Boy, how wrong I was…
Difficult, yes. Ineffective, most definitely not!
Below I explain why I think skinny people should include squats in their workout program.
- Should Skinny Guys Do Squats Decision Helper
- Benefits Of Doing Squats For Skinny Guys
- Drawbacks Of Doing Squats For Skinny Guys
- Squat Muscles Worked And The Visible Effects On Skinny Guys
- Best Squat Variations For Skinny Guys
- How Often Skinny Guys Should Squat
- Are Squats Essential For Skinny Guys To Build Muscle?
Should Skinny Guys Do Squats Decision Helper
In a hurry?
You can use this decision helper to see if you should do squats!
Benefits Of Doing Squats For Skinny Guys
“Nothing compares to squats”Legendary Bodybuilder, Tom Platz.
The squat is a powerful exercise that- when done correctly- confers a host of benefits for skinny guys.
If you’re trying to gain weight, increase strength, build muscle, or simply tone the lower body, squats can help you achieve your goals.
Here are some of the benefits of squatting for skinny people:
1) Squats can help skinny guys gain weight fast.
Squats are a big compound lift utilizing your body’s biggest muscles including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Lift heavy on the compound movements and eat well- that’s a recipe for skinny guys to gain healthy muscle weight fast!
2) Stimulates a powerful hormone response.
Numerous lines of research suggest that lifting heavy on lower body compound exercises like the squat and deadlift promote a hormone response in your body. Testosterone and growth hormone are just some of the hormones released during and after a heavy squat session. These muscle-building hormones can help skinny guys get bigger and stronger!
3) Strengthen the knee, ankle, and hips.
Weight lifting doesn’t just train your muscles. It also works the joints on which the muscles insert themselves. Squatting with good form and technique can strengthen the bones, ligaments, and tendons which surround your lower-body joints. As an ex-skinny guy myself, I can say that stronger joints work wonders for helping with daily activities like walking and lifting!
4) Squats can boost a skinny guy’s confidence.
I use to be a skinny guy with no self-esteem or confidence. It sucked. But boy let me tell you this- nothing lifts your ego more than beating your personal record on a squat. There’s something strangely satisfying about being able to squat 300lbs on the barbell rack…
5) They increase lower body strength.
The most obvious benefit of squatting for skinny guys; building a stronger lower body! Squats are a popular exercise due to their compound nature. A single squat movement recruits every muscle fiber in your body including those in your legs, back, and core. Heavy squatting on regular basis can build you a stronger and more powerful body!
6) Increased core strength.
Do you know the phrase “to hit two birds with one stone”? Well, squats don’t just work the legs. But studies show that they also train the core and lower back too. This is an added bonus for skinny guys who want to improve their posture, work on their 6-pack abs, and build bigger legs; all at the same time!
7) Squats can lead to improved athletic ability.
All the above benefits can translate into better athletic performance. There’s a reason you’ll often see sprinters, footballers, rugby players, etc, on the squat rack. Squats can be extremely beneficial for skinny guys who compete or are aspiring to join a sports team.
Drawbacks Of Doing Squats For Skinny Guys
Why skinny beginners and experienced lifters alike should be cautious when squatting…
Ok, so the squat may be a great exercise for skinny guys and experienced lifters alike.
But they also come with specific disadvantages that you should be aware of.
Here are some of the drawbacks of squatting for skinny people:
1) It is a complex exercise for beginners.
A safe and effective squat requires a wealth of form and technique cues to be met.
Examples of a good squat technique include:
- Feet placement- do not angle too far outwards or inwards.
- Lower back- should be kept straight throughout the movement.
- Barbell placement (if applicable)- variations lead to different muscle activation.
- Squat depth- thighs should reach just below parallel to the floor at the bottom of the squat.
- Knee angle- do not allow the knees to cave inwards.
- Ankle mobility- heels should be planted firmly on the ground at all times.
These are just some squat cues to follow.
You can therefore see why this is such a complex exercise that can be intimidating for a skinny beginner.
2) Squats are a relatively dangerous movement.
Squatting a heavy barbell with bad form is a recipe for injury.
As mentioned in the previous point, the squat is a complex exercise that requires time to master.
And without good lifting form, weighted squats can be extremely dangerous. This is especially true for skinny guys who are often more fragile than trained lifters.
If you’re unwilling to put your ego aside and spend time practicing good form with a light weight, then you really shouldn’t be doing weighted squats at all (stick to the bodyweight squats instead!).
3) Bad lifting technique may promote injury.
Extending from the previous two points- a bad squatting technique is a big health risk!
Skinny guys are susceptible to, amongst others, a variety of injuries including:
- Knee pain.
- Back strains.
- Disclosed spinal disks.
- Impact trauma.
Regardless if you’re a skinny guy or not- there’s nothing fun about a fully loaded barbell falling on your head…
4) Can be intimidating for beginners.
The previous points combined, mean the squat can be an extremely intimidating exercise for skinny guys and beginners in general.
I recommend first practicing the movement with bodyweight squats.
Next, you can add a dumbbell before progressing onto an empty Olympic barbell (20kg/45lbs).
Only after you’re confident doing 8-12 reps with an empty barbell, should you begin to add weight plates.
Despite the obvious safety concerns, heavy squatting can work wonders for skinny people looking to build muscle. For more information, you can check out my other article on why skinny guys should lift heavy.
Squat Muscles Worked And The Visible Effects On Skinny Guys
Squats are a good exercise for adding mass to skinny legs. It is a compound movement that engages the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, gastrocnemius, erector spinae, and core muscles. This makes it a great movement for shaping the legs and buttocks.
These aren’t the only muscles worked by the squat.
As I mentioned previously, the squat is a big compound movement that works the whole body to an extent.
But the main muscles engaged are found in the legs, butt, core, and lower back.
Below, you can find the primary muscles worked by the squat and the aesthetic benefits each muscle has for skinny guys.
|Squat Muscle||Visible Benefits For Skinny Guys|
|Quadriceps||Thicker thighs and wider hips when viewed from the front and side.|
|Hamstrings||Wider thighs and thicker legs when viewed from the rear and side.|
|Glutes||Bigger buttocks, wider waist, and overall bigger legs.|
|Gastrocnemius (calves)||Thicker, bigger, and wider lower legs when viewed from all angles.|
|Erector spinae (lower back)||Improved posture and reduced rounding of the back.|
|Core (abdominals)||Potential 6-pack abdominals with a low body fat percentage.|
Therefore squatting doesn’t just confer functional benefits.
Squats can also help skinny people with a host of visible benefits including; an increased leg diameter, toned-looking legs, and a shapely butt.
Best Squat Variations For Skinny Guys
There are multiple variations of the squat.
Each squat variation works a similar group of muscles.
But each variation differs in the location where the weight is placed, foot placement, and overall depth of the squat.
Consequently, each squat variation emphasizes different muscles and also differs in difficulty.
Here are some of the best squat variations for skinny guys to try:
|Squat Variation||Why It’s Effective For Skinny Guys|
|Barbell back squat||Best all-around squat variation to build bigger legs and butt.|
|Barbell front squat||Great squat variation to emphasize the quadriceps.|
|Box squat||Good for beginners by providing assistance at the bottom of the squat.|
|Bulgarian split squat||Increases core activation and is great for dumbbells where weight is limited.|
|Goblet squat||Safe and effective beginner-friendly variation of the weighted squat.|
|Dumbbell squat||Great squat variation to tone the shoulders and arms at the same time.|
|Bodyweight squat||Safest variation for skinny beginners to start squatting.|
There isn’t a single best squat variation for skinny guys.
Rather, they all have unique advantages, drawbacks, and applications.
Beginners often utilize multiple squat variations within an overall progression plan, which could look something like this:
- Bodyweight squats to learn the basic movement pattern.
- Dumbbell squats to add weight and increase intensity.
- Empty barbell box squat.
- Barbell box squat with weight plates.
- Barbell back/front squat with weight plates.
You could spend a week on each exercise.
Within 2 months, you should be able to squat properly using a barbell and reap the benefits associated with this awesome exercise!
If you’re a skinny beginner looking to gain muscle, you may be interested in my other post for a skinny to muscular workout. It revolves around squats as well as the other big compound moves!
How Often Skinny Guys Should Squat
Skinny guys should start with 2-3 squat workouts per week. It is recommended to rest for at least 24 hours before the next squat workout. It is unnecessary to squat every day of the week if each workout is performed to a sufficient intensity.
So far, I’ve established that squats are a great exercise for skinny guys to build muscle and strength.
But too much of anything can be bad- that’s why you should not do legs every day.
If your goal is to build muscle, then aim to complete ~10 sets of squats per week as a beginner and up to 15 sets per week as an intermediate-advanced lifter (around 2+ year of squat training).
For most people who aim for around 3-5 sets of squats per workout, this equates to around 2-3 workouts per week to reach 10 sets of squats per week (a lower training frequency requires a higher number of sets per workout and vice versa).
Additionally, make sure you’re using enough weight to fatigue you (this is essential).
As a skinny beginner, this could simply be body weight alone.
But as you get stronger, you’ll need to pile on the weight!
The exception to this rule is if you’re doing squats as part of a general fitness program. If that sounds like you, then you can do squats every day since you’re most likely not lifting heavy weights.
Even so, reducing training frequency and upping intensity would be a more efficient way to train legs (saving you a lot of time!).
It can be tempting to overtrain a skinny guy with big muscle-building ambitions. But this should be avoided. You can check out my other post to find out how many days a week skinny guys should work out.
Are Squats Essential For Skinny Guys To Build Muscle?
Squats are not essential for skinny people to gain muscle. They are a popular and highly effective exercise for building lower body muscle size and strength. But other exercises can be performed instead of squats to achieve a similar result.
Other effective leg exercises include:
- Leg press.
- Quad extensions.
- Hamstring curls.
- Uphill sprints.
At the end of the day, no specific exercise is “essential” for building muscle.
And if you don’t want to squat then by all means you don’t have to.
With that being said, exercises are not created equal. And certain movements are better than others for building overall body mass.
Squats are one of those exercises.
So if you’re a skinny person and want to maximize your muscle and strength gains, then I highly recommend you include squats in your workout program!
If you’re contemplating your own muscle transformation, then may be interested in my other post which explains if you should work out if you’re skinny!
I’ve explained why skinny guys should do squats.
They are one of the best exercises you can do to build muscle, increase strength, and gain weight as a skinny person.
Not only do they recruit the biggest muscles in your body and stimulate a hormone response (like testosterone), but they also activate pretty much every muscle in your body aside from those in the legs.
Looking to build muscle? Squat heavy 2-3 times a week.
Squatting for general fitness? Bodyweight is fine!
Either way, I highly recommend you include squats in your workout program!
Are you a skinny guy? How do you feel about squats?
Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions! You can find my details on the “contact us” page.
You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition (with printable worksheets) I used to go from skinny to ripped!
Thanks for reading guys!
(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)