What Are Sissy Squats?

The sissy squat is a top exercise for building quads, working on your hip flexors and strengthening your core simultaneously. It involves locking your feet in a fixed position and leaning right back, with the tension on your thighs, before bringing yourself up again - most easily completed with a Sissy Squat Bench.

Sissy Squat Benches consist of a platform that you stand on, with a vertical pad for your calves to rest against and a bar that locks your feet in place. 

They allow you to perform supported squats which means you can push your weight right back without losing your balance.  

While there are ways to complete the complex exercise without a Sissy Squat Bench, like any exercise, it’s far more beneficial if you have the right equipment.

How to do a sissy squat 

To do a sissy squat, you need to: 

  • Lock your feet into position using the locking pin and adjustable support bar 
  • Lean back into a squat while maintaining tension on your thighs 
  • Bring yourself back up again 
  • Repeat  

As an extra challenge, lean back while in a squat position. This will really engage your quads and core and you can also do it with a weight plate. 

Here’s our resident fitness expert, Louis Simms, to show you how it’s done: 

Sissy squat bench benefits

One of the main features of the sissy squat is that you can lean back with confidence as the bench grabs hold of your calves and ankles. This means you’re secure and can actually push your weight back as you squat. 

Not only this but instead of just doing a traditional squat, you can actually go all the way down into a sit up position. You then force your quads and core to take your full weight when you come back up, making it a real killer on your anterior chain.  

This exercise is great for so many reasons: 

  • They help you to build up your hip flexors – which is a really tricky area to target but will really benefit you if you can strengthen these up. 
  • They’re great for building muscle – doing sissy squats will help you get that teardrop thigh shape you’ve been looking for. 
  • They’re efficient – sissy squats are a compound exercise, so they help you target several areas in one go. 
  • You can use them to progress – sissy squat benches allow you to do sissy squats with a barbell so you can progress your quad gains while staying secure. 
  • They work your core – you can work your abs much more intensely than with normal squats which is another great benefit. 
mirafit sissy squat bench on gym mats

Why is it called a sissy squat? 

The name refers to Greek legend, King Sisyphus who, after antagonising one too many people, was sent to the underworld to be punished. 

Hades then gave him a huge rock and told him if he could push it to the top of the highest mountain, he would be set free. 

An impossible task, as soon as King Sisyphus got close to the top, the rock would fall back down to the bottom, leaving him to start again. 

Failing every time, he then realised this was his eternal punishment. 

So, what’s this got to do with doing squats? 

Massive thighs – that’s what. 

King Sisyphus: was he a bit of a douchebag? Yes. Did he have quads that most of us dream of? Definitely. 

Do sissy squats work your glutes? 

Sissy squats are not the best exercise for your glutes. They’re particularly good for targeting your quads however and also work your hip flexors and core.  

Once you have mastered the traditional sissy squat, you can make them harder by leaning your whole body back. This will add to the amount of weight your quads need to support as you come back. 

You can also progress your sissy squat exercises by holding a dumbbell or a weight plate. This will make them even harder so you can carry on strengthening and building muscle. 

Are sissy squats safe? 

By using a sissy squat bench, you can build strength gradually and you’re fully supported by the pad rest at the back. This makes them great for both beginners as well as more experienced lifters and are completely safe to use.  

Looking to vary your squat routine? Check out all the different types of exercises you can do with a squat rack here. 

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