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August 4, 2022

5 Squatting Patterns & When To Use Them

5 Squatting Patterns & When To Use Them with Annie Miller

5 squatting patterns and when to use them.

If there is a single exercise that is known by most humans around the globe, inside and outside the gym, it might have to be “the squat.” But what makes a squat a squat?

Answer: Think of squatting not as a single movement but a PATTERN. A pattern that combines three things: Knee flexion + hip flexion + ankle dorsiflexion.

Instead of thinking you need to “back squat” or you’re not fitness-ing, consider what makes a squat a squat and entertain that you can benefit from the overall pieces of the PATTERN:

▪️BILATERAL (two leggies) Back, front, Zercher, goblet, cyclist, overhead, belt squats, etc

Front Squat by Annie Miller (bilateral squatting pattern)
Lumberjack/Landmine squat by Annie Miller (bilateral squatting pattern)

▪️UNILATERAL (one leggy) Step ups, lateral step ups, most step up variations, pistol squat variations, single leg hack squat, etc.

Pistol Squat by Annie Miller (unilateral squatting pattern)
DB step up by Annie Miller (unilateral squatting pattern)

▪️UNILATERAL BIAS (mostly one leggy)B-stance squat, split squats, front or back foot elevated split squats, cossack squats etc.I have separated unilateral and unilateral bias just to make clear a TRUE single leg exercise vs a single leg exercise with some level of weight distribution between both legs but a bias towards ONE.

Front foot elevated split squat by Annie Miller (unilateral bias squatting pattern)


Nothing is to say you can’t do more than one squatting exercise per workout. The use of these exercises completely depends on the goal of your program or training day.

For instance, if the entire lift is a squat and/or quad focused day, then you may have multiple bilateral and unilateral squatting patterns at various loads and volumes.

  • Back squat 3×5
  • Back foot elevated split squat 3×8 + Hip thrusts 15, 12, 10
  • Cyclist goblet squats 3×8 1 and 1/4 reps + lateral step ups 3x8ea

Or, a lift could only involve one of these squatting patterns – say if it’s a full body workout or used as an accessory on a more hip/hinge dominant day.

Point is, think about squatting as a pattern, and how you currently use them within your program or how you could implement them into future programming.

Make sense? Makes sense. What is your fav squat pattern that is NOT back or front squat? Mine is BFESS for life. Also love a step up.

If you want to get strong, enjoy your workouts and make #educatedgains, then get on the Built by Annie waitlist. 

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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