T Nation

Somersault Squats


I've stumbed across this lift a few times and haven't had the balls to give it a shot yet.

Anyone have experience with it? Comments? Feedback?

Look at the extreme round with this variation. My lumbar just hurts looking at it. Also, check out the knees.

Here's the other variation. The torso seems to stay more upright with this one, so possibly less pressure on the lumbar? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8a9KJVHmVig

Is this lift worth any time?


there’s no load on the spine at all so no lumbar pressure either way. The weight is directly loaded on the hip. I don’t see the point though, why not just do leg presses?


look pretty cool to me. Don’t have a Smith at my gym otherwise I’d give them a try


The Smith Sissy Hack Squat is basically a Smith machine version of a real old school barbell hack squat. So, nothing super-new there. Hack machine sissy squats have also been around a while. Thibaudeau and Meadows have both discussed them.

The somersault squats have always reminded me of this barbell warm-up from Pierre Roy (an Olympic lifting coach who’s mentored Poliquin and Thibaudeau). This one’s obviously more of a hip mobility drill rather than a strict muscle builder, but swap the bar for a Smith machine and elevate the heels, and you’re basically there. Bonus points because the bar is probably causing some slight blood flow restriction, which we were just talking about being useful for growth. :wink:

Like with many “bodybuilding” exercises, you’re increasing stress on a target muscle at the expense of increased stress on the related joints. I haven’t played with it much, but I think it seems “unnecessary” in the sense that I’m not sure you’re getting drastic/significant benefits compared to other quad training options (like simply doing “whatever” new exercise or technique to hit the quads - front squat one and a half reps, for example). But if your knees and ankles are healthy enough, it’s worth a shot to see how it works for you.


I did them for a stint where I was Squatting and DL’ing multiple times per week, and sometimes wanted a leg exercise that could be progressively overloaded while not stressing my lower back in anyway. Definitely liked it, but was kind of too much of a hassle to continue with


The somersault squat is worth trying for sure, nice twist on a warm up drill I do sometimes. Never saw this movement done this way before… cheers!

It is great without weight because you will get a nice burn in the quads doing them. Can be used as a warm up / activation drill like CC just said, activating the quads before more conventional movements like back squats etc. They remind me of these, toe touch squats.

CT did an article many years ago on squat variations, its worth a read.

Just to reiterate what CC said, you could potentially sacrifice joint health targeting specific areas (teardrop) using these methods but then that all depends on the individuals biomechanics.

I could never get the old style hack squats to flow as my arse always got in the way standing up lol. Sissy squats on the other hand with a plate held across the chest are great but time spent with no weight is definitely advised until you get your groove on with the movement. Siff lunges are also great esp. with the rear foot elevated like in the split squat.


I remember some of the DoggCrappers on this site mention doing the somersault squats for years ago. I tried it for fun and it seems to hit the quads really well without the knee/lower back stress that some other leg exercises suffer from. My opinion on it is the same as rack chins; a unique variation of a lift that is great in targeting a particular bodypart but the set up is too cumbersome for me to do the exercise consistently.


I really like Smith Somersault Squats like the ones in the Joe Daniel’s video. They don’t aggravate my knees or back at all.

I don’t us as high of a block to lift my heels. He has 2 or 3 inches there. Just a plate is enough for me, but I’m also a lot smaller than and likely more flexible than he is. And I don’t have someone help me hold the bar as he shows. Holding it yourself limits how much your can use your hands out front for balance, but I haven’t found that to be a problem.

Strength is the biggest limiting factor for me. He’s doing them with 35’s on each side of the Smith bar. I only use the bar, and still have a hard time getting above 8 reps before failure, then dropping sets down to 6, 5 reps. especially if I do them at the end of a leg workout. I’m not strong enough to use them as a high volume finisher, even with just the Smith bar. So if you are thinking of doing high volume sets they may not work for a lot of women in that way, but you may be a lot stronger than I am. They do REALLY hit your lateralis (quad sweep) if you keep your stance close like that.

Here’s an older thread I had on trying to develop more sweep without bulking up my teardrop area. This is how I first heard about them. There are some other tips and videos there you might find useful as well.

Best to you!