10 Squats for Fighters and Grapplers

By Corey Beasley

Social media is full of random exercise clips and tips.  People showcasing their workouts or simply performing feats to get a little attention.  This can be confusing for many, because most of these posts do not teach the how and why of each drill.  This often leads to people seeing cool stuff and then trying it, without understanding how, when or why to use it.  When developing workouts, we can manipulate variables like reps, tempo, sets, rest and more, but proper exercise selection should be at the top of the list.

Below is a series of squatting exercises that I use with my athletes.  Depending on the goal and ability level of the person standing in front of me, I will choose the variation that they can perform well.  We might spend 3-6 weeks working on that exercise, before progressing to a more challenging exercise or increasing the intensity.  Check em out and leave a comment, if you have any questions.


10 Squats for Fighters and Grapplers (Beg-Adv)


Choosing the right exercise is essential.  Try an advanced variation, when you're not prepared for it, and you can find yourself in trouble.  The key is to use a series of exercises to learn how to perform the movement pattern correctly and efficiently.  Proper exercise progressions allow us to slowly increase intensity, while developing more body awareness, coordination and strength.  Over time, we can use more challenging exercises with confidence.  Having a few progressions (harder) and regressions (easier) in your arsenal, makes it easy to adjust on the fly, when you're working with different ages & ability levels.

1. Bodyweight Squat

Bodyweight squats are a great assessment tool, as well as, for recovery or endurance type workouts.  Once you can squat efficiently without weight, then we can add resistance in a variety of ways.

Squats for Fighters


2. Sandbag Bearhug Squat

We learned the SB Bear Hug squat from Josh Henkin.  Because the load is placed close to the torso, this variation actually helps people push their ips back and maintain good posture throughout the squat.

Fight Camp Conditioning


3. KB Goblet Squat

Made famous by Dan John, the goblet squat is another great way to groove good squat mechanics with a kettlebell.

Squats for Fighters


4. Landmine Squat

The landmine squat provides another front loaded variation, but the anchored barbell provides some stability for new users.  This allows us to increase the load, while maintaining balance.


5. Double Racked KB Squat

A favorite amongst kettlebell lifters, this allows increased load in the racked position.  This requires tall posture throughout the Squats for Fighters or the kettlebells will fall forward.

Squats for Fighters


6. Sandbag Zercher Squat

Sandbag Zercher squat offers some unique physical demands, because of the size and weight of the sandbag. The load is held in the arms, which also creates unique resistance for athletes.

Squats for Fighters


7. Versapulley Squat

The Versapulley uses flywheel technology to create eccentric overload on the user.  What this basically translates to is a squat where the user can control the level of exertion, then the flywheel matches that output on the way back down....basically pulling you back down into the Squats for Fighters position.  Very challenging!


8. Barbell Back Squat

A strength staple, the barbell back squat has been used by athletes for decades.  Load it up and get strong.


9. Barbell Zercher Squat

The barbell zercher squat is a great alternative for athletes with shoulder or upper back imitations.  The bar is held in the crook of the arms, which offers the benefits of front loading, without the mobility of a front squat.

Squats for Fighters


10. Barbell Front Squat

The barbell front squat places the bar high on the shoulders, which activates more abdominal muscle, maintains posture and with less load on the spine.  Used by strength coaches around the globe, the front squat at the top of the food chain, when it comes to squat strength for fighters and grapplers.

Squats for Fighters


What are your 'go to' squat exercises?

Remember, there are always alternatives and different ways to teach a skill...and strength is a skill.  Just like earning your black belt, developing quality strength takes time.  Start slow, master the technique and add intensity slowly over time.  Hopefully some of the progressions listed above will help you develop more effective workouts for yourself or the people you are training.

In future posts, we will break down ways to progress hinging, lunges, presses, pulls and more!

Have something specific that you'd like us to cover?  Leave a comment below...


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