Kang Squat – How to do, Benefits and Safety Tips

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A female athlete can be seen holding a barbell on her bent upper back

How to do | Muscles worked | Who Should/Should Not | Add to routine | Safety Tips | Benefits | Variations

The kang squat is a powerful combination exercise that activates the posterior chain. It was apparently named after Shin-Ho Kang, a globally recognized weightlifting coach.

This squat variation transitions from the good morning position to the traditional back squat and back. Kang squat must be performed with intention and requires focus, practice, and perfect execution.

How to do a Kang squat?

The kang squat is a weighted squat that needs to be performed using a proper form. Here is a detailed sequence of steps for you to execute the kang squat and reap the full benefits of this exercise.

The good morning portion of the Kang squat

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Place a barbell on your upper back across your shoulders and grip it such that your elbows point to the floor.
  3. Keep your torso upright and core engaged.
  4. Lean your torso forward. Hinge from your hips until your upper body is parallel to the floor.
  5. Ensure to balance the barbell on your shoulders and do not allow it to rest on your neck.

The back squat portion of the exercise

  1. Now steadily, drop your hips lower to the ground to move into a full squat.
  2. Hold the pose for a moment.

The drive up

  1. Begin to push through your heels and raise your hips till you are back into the good morning pose.
  2. Bring back your torso to the upright position (starting position) without tipping your hips forward.

Muscles worked

Kang squats are an advanced variation of traditional squats. A squat is a  compound exercise [1]American Council on Exercise: 5 Benefits of Compound Exercises that engages several muscles at the same. The Kang squat engages multiple muscles simultaneously. The primary muscles and secondary muscles that it works on are as follows:

Primary muscles

Quadricepsrectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius

Secondary muscles

Hamstringsbiceps femoris, the semitendinosus, and the semimembranosus
Core musclestransversus abdominis, rectus abdominis, external obliques
Glutesgluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus
Calves musclesgastrocnemius and soleus
Shoulders musclesanterior deltoids, lateral deltoids, posterior deltoids
Spine musclesspinalis, iliocostalis, and longissimus

Who should and should not do the Kang squat

Kang squats are typically performed with weights that require a certain level of developed functionality. Hence, certain groups of people should be included in the exercise in their routine.

However, this squat position could pose a threat to a certain set of people bunch and should be avoided by them.

Who should do Kang squats

  1. Anyone preparing themselves for Olympic weightlifting must include it in their routine.
  2. Kang squats work well for most who hold some experience with lifting barbells on their shoulders.
  3. Individuals interested in enhancing their squat form can include this exercise in their routine.
  4. The Kang squat is a move that involves coordination and hence can be a value-added exercise for those keen to improve their overall coordination and balancing skills.

Who should not do Kang squats

  1. Like any other squat variation, Kang squat forces the lower body muscles (the hamstrings) to lengthen. This may be hazardous to people with pre-existing medical conditions or injuries, especially in their lower body.  Hence, it is highly advised to perform this movement only under the care of a certified fitness instructor.
  2. Beginners in general or beginners at weight lifting should also program this move into their routine only after gaining some confidence and skills in handling barbells.

Adding it to your routine

To program the Kang squat into your routine, it is important to know how many sets and reps are ideal for you to perform. Given below are the suggested reps and sets:

  • Beginners: 3-5 reps of 1-2 sets (light weights)
  • Intermediate/advanced: 7-13 reps of 2-3 sets (moderate-heavy weights)

Here is a sample circuit for you to add the Kang squat to your exercise program:

Start the circuit with a warm-up.

ExercisesRepetitions
Goblet squats12-15 reps
Barbell front squats8-12 reps
Good mornings6-8 reps
Back squats6-8 reps
Kang squats5-8 reps

Cool down with static stretches at the end of the workout.

Note: You may perform 2-3 sets of the entire circuit. Additionally, you may customize the exercises, sets, and weights as per your own capacity.

Safety measures to follow

The Kang squat calls for practice and skill. Thus, it is imperative to perform the exercise will all the safety precautions in mind. Below is a list of preventive measures to execute the move safely and prevent strain or injury:

1. Warm-up

Warm up before you get into your circuit. This gets the blood pumping [2]Mayo Clinic: Aerobic exercise: How to warm up and cool down and helps in better muscle recovery post workouts, and prevents the chances of injury.

2. Progress steadily

Initially, practice the exercise with lighter weights, such as a PVC pipe or a broomstick. Gradually move on to the barbell or load the barbell with heavier weights as you become familiar with the mechanics.

3. Posture and form

To prevent injury, be sure not to lock your knees, engage your core at all times, and avoid curling your upper half as your bend forward. It is integral to perform the Kang squat in the perfect form.

4. Use a spotter

Perform the move under the guidance of a spotter. This will allow you to practice the move more effectively and with the correct form.

5. The correct method to drive up

While pushing up, push through your heels and not your knees to avoid unnecessary pain/strain.

6. Avoid ego-lifting

Carrying a weight that you can not control is a recipe for disaster. Select a weight that you can balance and gives you the necessary amount of resistance to perform the exercise.

Benefits of doing Kang squats

Not only does this squat target multiple muscle groups, but it also has various other benefits to offer:

  1. The Kang squat is a resistance exercise. It is also considered that this squatting method focuses on the posterior chain as you get into the back squat part of the exercise. This might help with lower back pain [3]National Library of Medicine: Posterior-Chain Resistance Training Compared to General Exercise and Walking Programmes for the Treatment of Chronic Low Back Pain in the General Population: A … Continue reading and improve knee health in athletes.
  2. The second portion of the Kang squat- Back squat [4]National Library of Medicine: The back squat: A proposed assessment of functional deficits and technical factors that limit performance can help in several different ways, such as building injury resilience and assessing an individual for neuromuscular control, strength, stability, and mobility within the kinetic chain.
  3. It serves as a great assistance exercise, i.e., it helps improve the form and performance of other exercises. However, this doesn’t imply that it can be used as a replacement for the traditional back squat.
  4. Kang squats are particularly designed to focus on lower body strength and thus help with mobility and flexibility of the hip flexors and ankles.
  5. As Kang squats require a sequence to be followed, i.e., first the good morning and then followed by the back squat, it enhances one’s overall coordination, full body control, and awareness.
  6. The Kang squat is an easily customizable exercise. It can be modified as per individual preference to be systematically programmed into any fitness regime.

Variations to try

The Kang squat has multiple variations. For instance, the below-given variations are examples of exercises that are according to different fitness levels.

1. Bodyweight Kang squat

While starting off with Kang squats, you may begin by only using your body weight to perform the exercise.

All you need to do for this is place both your hands at the back of your head (instead of holding a barbell). Continue to perform the rest of the exercise as usual.

2. Goblet squats

This variation is a weighted squat that works well for counterbalancing your body. Moreover, it is excellent for introducing weights to your regime.

Performing goblet squats work similar muscles as the Kang squat and is suitable for individuals on an intermediate level of their fitness journey.

3. Weighted squat jumps

Weighted squat jumps are a variation that has the ability to provide a full-body workout. It is one of those exercises that anyone can incorporate and has two movements involved in a single exercise.

This move requires you to jump explosively while rising from a squat and holding weight (dumbbells). This doesn’t only allow the body to build strength but also provides good cardio.

Conclusion

To conclude, the Kang squat is a move that may be new to many. However, it is an excellent exercise for developing lower body strength and power. Perform this exercise and its variations to strengthen your posterior chain and enhance squatting performance.

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