All of the essential lifts in our training routines have thousands of variations. Some can help us train our muscles from different angles or train different parts of our muscles harder than others. Others can give us more splendid isolation of the muscle we are working on.
During this article, we will discuss a variation of the squat called the pulse squat. We will describe the situations in which it may be a good idea to perform pulse squats and how it may not. We will also tell you what replacements this exercise has and what other squat variations we recommend performing.
Everything that we claim during this article is based on science backed research. We will include and link to all relevant research sources used in this article.
The Pulse Squat
The pulse squat is an exercise that’s generally done unweighted to improve muscle endurance. Pulse squats are not great at building straight quad muscle but they are excellent for building your butt muscles and your overall strength of your legs.
But why is the pulse squat and excellent exercise to build the muscles in my butt? The reason is because the pulse squat concentrates on the extremely low part of the rep range of the squat motion. Because of this you are using a large portion of your lower glute muscles to lift yourself up initially in the first part of the up-rep range.
Because of this the pulse squat has recently started making its way into new booty building workout routines because there are many who are finding out that doing just squats is building their legs but not building their butts. There are many reasons for this but a huge reason is because everybody is different and some butts require special or different stimulation targeting in order to grow the glute muscles.
How to Perform a Pulse Squat
To perform a pulse squat, stand up straight with your legs shoulder-width apart. Then lower yourself into a squat position and pulse (i.e., “give a little hop”).
Pulse three to five times per squat. Then, slowly return to the starting position.
When to do the pulse squat
Pulse squats can be a good exercise for those who are not aiming to gain as much muscle as possible in their quadriceps during a session but rather are trying to improve the overall strength of not only their quads but also their hamstrings and their glutes
If you are training to either improve the strength in your both your quads and your glutes at the same time then this exercise will help target different angles of both of these muscles.
If you don’t have any equipment, the pulse squat can be an excellent option to include in your routine to increase the training volume for the session.
When to skip the pulse squat
If you have access to gym equipment, even with just a set of dumbbells, you will have access to many exercises that we consider could be better utilized than the pulse squat when it comes to training your legs.
If you are going for different targeting of your quads and want to try and overcome a plateau by hitting all angles of the muscles you can try a similar squat variation called the sissy squat. This variation of the squat can be performed on a machine designed for it but it can also be done without the use of a machine like seen here.
There are also many other variations like the smith machine squat and many other exercises that you can substitute for the pulse squat. Check well know resources for more information on alternative exercises to learn more about what can be used in place of the pulse squat if this exercise does not suit your liking.
The pulse squat is an exercise that tends to become unweighted, and the muscle gain it generates is minimal. It doesn’t demand anywhere near what is needed from our leg muscles to grow.
Here are some exercises that you can perform with just a pair of dumbbells that are far superior to the squat.
Bulgarian Split Squat
The Bulgarian squat is a unilateral exercise that focuses on knee extensor activation, involves the quadriceps considerably, and emphasizes stability and proprioception work versus bilateral exercises.
They can be performed with a barbell (placed at the height of the trapezius) and with dumbbells (held with the hands at the sides of the body). However, it is advisable to do it with a barbell. In this way, the grip strength will not be the limiting factor of the exercise, and the swinging of the dumbbells during the movement will be eliminated.
To perform them, you’ll need an external load and an elevated surface to rest the leg that the set will not involve.
In a striding position, with the back leg elevated, we will inhale while performing the eccentric phase
and we will descend by bending the knee, hip, and ankle.
We recommend performing this exercise in a range of 8 to 12 repetitions to maximize results. We believe it is one of the best, if not the best, exercise you can perform if you only have dumbbells and want to train your legs.
The stride is an exercise mainly aimed at working the lower body, especially the legs and glutes.
The leg muscles are mainly the thigh or quadriceps, and if the stride is more expansive, the hamstrings are also used.
Of the buttocks, the muscle most involved in the movement is the gluteus maximus
So when returning to the starting position to complete the exercise, we must push with the displaced leg and contract until standing again, the buttocks.
The Best Leg Exercises To Gain Muscle Mass
If you have access to a well-equipped gym and your goal is to gain muscle, the squat will probably not be part of your routine. Instead, there are many exercises you can do that will help you gain strength.
1- The Barbell Squat
This legendary exercise is one of those that we consider fundamental in your routine, whether it’s strength or hypertrophy.
This exercise will be great for your legs, improve your CNS capacity and help you become more proficient with higher loads, thus allowing you to access higher levels of hypertrophy in each session.
The barbell squat can be performed in various ways, but the two main ones are the high bar squat and the low bar squat.
a) The high bar squat
In this variation, you’ll need to place the barbell over your trapezius muscles. And when we say trapezius, we don’t mean putting the bar on your neck as this can lead to injury. The torso will be slightly more upright to facilitate the descent and perform the optimal route.
b) The low bar squat
This variation is commonly used in the Powerlifting environment. The position of the bar will be below the trapezius, in the area of the scapulae.
Typically, once we get used to the pressure of the bar on the upper back, the low bar squat allows us to manipulate more weight.
2- The Deadlift
When we perform deadlifts, we mainly use the muscles located in the back of the legs since straightening the torso while carrying the weight works the gluteus maximus and the hamstrings.
All the spinal muscles are involved when performing deadlifts, and it also promotes mobility.
If we spread our legs further apart and perform sumo-style deadlifts, we can work the adductors and quadriceps as well.
3- The Front Squat
The front squat is the same as the back squat, but with the bar placed in front of the body, weightlifting athletes. It requires an excellent technique to load a considerable weight in the front squat, but it is worth it because of its benefits.
The front squat concentrates all the force we exert during the lift on the quadriceps and core. The back squat also works the glutes and hamstrings.
The front squat may seem awkward because of where you have to place the bar (right in front of your throat), and it also allows you to move less weight (if you’ve only trained the back squat before). But for all its benefits, it’s worth including it in your training.
4- Romanian Deadlifts
The Romanian deadlift can be an excellent exercise for working the hamstrings and generally the entire posterior chain.
To perform the Romanian deadlift correctly, place your feet hip-width apart, preferably use a mixed grip (since it’s the one that will allow you to lift more safely), and grip the bar firmly but without trying to pull with your arms.
Try to extend your hips without bending your trunk at any time so that your spine does not arch.
Lift the bar until you are fully upright, and do not hyperextend your hips at the end of the movement.
To execute this movement safely, we must maintain a straight back posture at all times, especially in the lumbar area.
Setting Up An Effective Training Program
The legs are one of the largest muscle groups in our body and should be treated as such. When it comes to training them to increase muscle mass, you should do it with loads that demand it from you and basing your routine on compound exercises.
The first exercise
The first exercise we perform on our leg day should be a compound exercise. In the case of training the legs twice a week and completing the deadlift on leg day as many trainees do, it will be ideal to prioritize each one in one session, perform it first.
The main accessory
This exercise will be a variation of the first. In the case of our leg day, it will be variations of the deadlift and squat.
An example might be to perform front squats as the main accessory on the day we start with squat and Romanian deadlifts on the other day.
The secondary accessory
This exercise will also be performed with free weights generally and could well be the primary attachment on the other leg day in a different rep range.
For example, if we performed the Romanian deadlift on our first leg day as the primary accessory at eight reps, we could serve it as the secondary accessory at 15 reps the next day.
However, we recommend including other exercises in this position, such as the SLDL, lunges, or Bulgarian split squat.
Accessories with machines
If we want to show off large legs, it will be enough to perform the first three categories of exercises that we named if we push ourselves to the maximum, always in an intelligent way.
However, you can also perform some series of exercises with machines such as extensions or leg curls. These exercises will be at the end of our routine and will be the least influential.
A case for the pulse squat (and any exercise)
Although it’s not an insufficient exercise, the pulse squat is not the best choice to gain muscle.
However, for a variety of reasons, we may want to perform it.
If this is an exercise you like and want to include in your routine, go for it! You won’t lose anything by performing it at the end of your training session. You will even gain conditioning and cardiovascular capacity by serving it at high reps.
We hope we have clarified your doubts about this exercise in this article and that you have gathered valuable information about leg training in general.