Exercise of the Month: Sissy Squat
Performed first, the sissy squat can be used to pre-exhaust your quads before moving on to multijoint moves such as the squat or leg press. As a finishing move it helps deliver an amazing pump with light weight or even just your bodyweight.
STEP 1: Using a 10–25-pound plate, stand next to a stable post, such as the outside post of a power rack or Smith machine.
STEP 2: Keeping your feet close together, grasp the post with one hand at about hip level, holding the plate across your chest with your other hand.
STEP 3: Rise onto your toes (the balls of your feet), stick your chest out high, arching your back, building a “shelf” for the plate. Squeeze the plate tight to your chest.
STEP 1: Keeping your chest up, bend your knees to lower yourself toward the floor. Your knees should pass well beyond the plane coming up from your toes, one reason why this puts so much emphasis on the lower quads.
STEP 2: Lean back so that your body forms a straight line, keeping your back arched and abs tight.
STEP 3: With your knees just above the floor, pause momentarily, then press through your toes, pressing through the floor to raise your torso back to the standing position, but stay on your toes.
STEP 4: At the top, squeeze your quads hard for a count before beginning the next rep.
Biggest Training Errors
1. Using too much of your non-working arm. This is not a one-arm pull-up. You want the emphasis placed on your legs and not on your arm. You can help accomplish this by grabbing the post around waist level at the start so that your arms aren’t absorbing your bodyweight until the bottom of the set.
2. Not staying on your toes. You’ll force more emphasis to fall on your target (quads) by staying on your toes (or as high on the balls of your feet as possible.) When your feet are flat, you’ll pull more hams/glutes into the equation.
3. Not building a shelf. You want your chest to become somewhat of a shelf for the weight plate. Be sure to lean back, keeping your abs and lower back tight. Imagine getting your chest as close to parallel to the floor as possible. That’ll help emphasize the quads as the primary mover.
While the sissy squat does have some hamstring and glutes involvement, the move that most closely resembles it is the leg extension. The sissy squat is virtually a standing leg extension, as most of the action occurs at the knee joint, as long as you keep your torso tight and isolate the focus to your quads.