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I am starting a (mainly) body-weight fitness routine and I have found squats to be WAY to easy.

There are two progressions I can try that I know of:

I can try to work towards pistol squats

OR I can use a backpack and keep adding weights to it.

What are the benefits/downsides of each approach?

Recommend any alternatives?

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    If you're adding weights to a backpack, why not go for an actual squatting with barbells? That should give your legs more workout than a backpack – Kneel-Before-ZOD Aug 20 '14 at 2:00
  • 1 legged squats are called pistol squats. They are not two different things. You can probably vary your one legged squats. Your post is a little confusing. – Thorst Aug 20 '14 at 8:21
  • You can also superset Lounges and squat have fun ;) – e1che Aug 20 '14 at 14:42
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An excellent squat variation is the goblet squat. This helps build the upper back as well as your legs. Holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of you, perform your squats while keeping the implement up.

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I find it much easier to keep the weight over your center of gravity, which will be your major limitation on using a backpack to weight the squats. Should you ever want to venture into barbell exercises, these are an excellent preparatory exercise.

Some variations to increase difficulty is to perform pause squats of varying lengths. For example pause for 3 seconds at the bottom before coming back up.

Pistol squats are very good, but they require a lot of coordination and mobility to perform. I do think it's worthwhile to develop the skill to do pistol squats, but the goblet squats will help you get the work in while you develop that skill. They can also be yet another variation once pistols are at the same place that bodyweight squats are (goblet pistols).

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The answer to this question really depends on your goals and available resources, so I'll give a few answers depending on some possible scenarios.

Assuming, for some reason, you can only (or only want to) do bodyweight exercises and are stuck indoors: Any/all of the following:

  • Jump squats

  • Pistol squats

  • Burpees

  • Weighted vest (backpack may result in a weird/injury-prone squat position)

Assuming you want to improve leg strength, over-all fitness and body composition, but can't use a gym See above, but also:

  • SPRINTS - can't recommend these enough. And I mean proper sprinting that you couldn't imagine keeping up for more than 150m

    • Plyometrics (jumps, hops, etcetera)

    • Stair/hill running (sprint up an incline/steps (two at a time if 'normal'-sized steps) repeatedly)

Assuming you want increased fitness, leg strength, body composition, etcetera, but don't fancy using a gym or think a barbell will hurt your back

  • Just go to the gym, try hard and always try to improve your form, knowledge etc, and remember that it will get easier and less 'intimidating', if that's your issue.

  • Barbell squats, deadlifts and power cleans can't really be replaced by bodyweight exercises.

  • Having said that, sprinting is king (but I may be slightly biased).

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