Fitness tip  – Spanish squats

Fitness tip – Spanish squats

by Evigan Xiao 01 Feb 2020

We’ve all heard of numerous ways to finish off a leg workout – drop sets, sled pushes/pulls, Tabata intervals on the assault bike, widowmaker squats, leg press to exhaustion, etc.. There’s no denying the effectiveness of these methods, especially when one wakes up the following day! But what if I told you that there was an equally brutal way to cap off leg day, and all it takes is one rep?


Spanish squats are something you rarely see being performed in any regular gym setting. Normally, they’re used by physiotherapists as part of a treament protocol for managing patellar tendonitis. However, it can be used to elicit a great training effect at the end of a workout.


It helps to think of the spanish squat as a reverse wall-sit. The execution of the movement results in the loading of the patellar tendon while minimising compressive forces, making it a good “finisher” option for those with less than robust knee joints or who are coming off a previous injury.


To perform a spanish squat, you’ll first need to procure a fairly heavy (thicker = better), looped resistance band. Secure one end to a fixed implement (the post of a squat rack will do fine) and make two loops for each leg. Position the two loops below the knee joint, right above the calf. Once it’s done, take a couple of steps back until there’s a good amount of tension on the band.


Location and equipment courtesy of TripleFit


You will then sit down while maintaining your shins in a vertical position and hold for as long as you can before coming up. Desending slowly is imperative as it allows you to control the movement and ensure that your knees don’t shoot forward. As far as depth is concerned, 90° of flexion at the joint is a good amount to shoot for, as long as the shins remain completely vertical.


This is what you’d want to avoid (note the forward-leaning shins):

Location and equipment courtesy of TripleFit


It may only be one rep, but you’ll feel the burn of a hundred by the time you’re done! Spanish squats can also be done for reps as a warm-up prior to squatting; keep the eccentrics slow and simply hold for a shorter amount of time (up to 10 seconds). If you have trouble keeping your shins vertical, either get a thicker band or take a greater number of steps back to get more tension out of the band. The spanish squat takes some time getting used to, but is well-worth the time and effort!