Lumberjack Squat

How To Do A Lumberjack Squat
By Alli McKeeFebruary 19, 2016

Lumberjack Squat Exercise

The lumberjack squat is one of many great squat variations you can use to strengthen the lower body and anterior core. This exercise is a perfect option if you are learning how to master the squatting movement and gain the requisite levels of strength and stability before you move on to the more advanced barbell squatting variations.

Equipment needed:

You should use a barbell to perform this lower body exercise. You can rest the barbell against a wall, or you can anchor it between two weight plates on the floor. You can also use a landmine attachment that is sometimes available.

Ability level:


Lumberjack squats might be too advanced for women who are just beginning to strength train. This might be due to lack of strength, stability or mobility. A few great exercise options for beginners could include lumberjack box squats (squatting onto a box/bench and standing up), or bodyweight squats (regular tempo, pause squats, or negatives).

Women who have mastered the lumberjack squat and are ready for more resistance should place the lumberjack squat at the beginning of their workout. Beginners should complete 1-3 sets of 8-15 repetitions with light weight.


The lumberjack goblet squat is a great option for the intermediate lifter, and is pretty versatile as it can be placed at the beginning of the workout to prepare the body for more advanced exercise variations, or it can be performed after the more advanced movements have been completed. You can perform this exercise on its own, you can pair it with another exercise as part of a superset, or can you even make it part of a metabolic conditioning circuit. Intermediate lifters might perform 2-4 sets of 6-12 reps of the lumberjack  squat.


Women who are comfortable with the lumberjack  squat exercise can choose to perform negative lumberjack  squats where the lowering phase to each position is increased to 3-5 seconds. This trains the muscles eccentrically. You can also perform the lumberjack pause squat variation, pausing for 3-5 seconds in each position, or you can combine the negative and pause lumberjack squat variations. You can also increase the weight/resistance for multiple sets (2-4+) of fewer repetitions (3-6).

More advanced lifters may also opt to perform other lumberjack style squat variations such as an offset lumberjack  squat by holding the barbell with one hand and on one side of the body. It is best to drop the weight by about 30-40% when transitioning to an offset lumberjack  squat to ensure that you can complete your desired sets and reps with good form. Another option for more advanced lifters is to perform a double lumberjack  squat. With this option, you will hold one barbell in each hand, which allows you to increase the resistance quite a bit.

Benefits of Lumberjack Squats:

There are many lumberjack  squat benefits. The lumberjack squat is very beneficial for someone who might not currently have the requisite levels of technical proficiency, strength, stability and mobility to perform barbell front or back squats. Like the barbell squat, this exercise also trains the body to remain in a more upright position, and challenges the core muscles, particularly the anterior core. How a woman chooses to use the lumberjack squat is highly dependent on her overall technical ability and experience, how much weight is being used, the set/rep scheme used, where the exercise falls in the workout, what it’s paired with, and what the rest periods are. In general, the lumberjack squat can be used to do any or all of the following:

  • increasing lower body strength, primarily in the quads, glutes, and hamstrings
  • increasing upper body strength, especially if a heavier kettlebell is being held
  • increasing core strength, particularly the anterior core
  • building muscle
  • fat loss (if your diet and exercise routines are conducive to fat loss)
  • increasing conditioning (if used as part of conditioning circuits)
  • transitioning to a barbell loaded squat

How to perform a Lumberjack Squat: 

  • Hinge your hips, bend your knees, take a deep breath in (360 degrees of air around the spine), brace your core (imagine that you’re about to block a soccer ball with your stomach), lightly tuck your rib cage down towards your hips (close the space in your midsection) and pick up the barbell. Your hands and arms should almost resemble a goblet position. If you are not comfortable doing this, get somebody to pass it to you.
  • Once you have grabbed onto the barbell, squeeze your upper arms into your sides. You can even pretend that you are crushing something in your armpits. Allowing the barbell to separate from your body will cause the muscles in your lower back to do unnecessary work.
  • Before you descend into the squat, take a deep breath in (360 degrees of air around the spine), brace your core (imagine that you’re about to block a soccer ball with your stomach), and lightly tuck your rib cage down towards your hips (close the space in your midsection).
  • While maintaining muscular control and the same tempo the entire time, simultaneously move at the knees and hips, and aim to sit between your heels.
  • As you stand up and lock out at the top position, squeeze your glutes, quads and hamstrings, brace your core, and keep your rib cage down (close the space in your midsection) to prevent your lower back from arching and help you maintain proper alignment.
  • Keep your torso relatively upright and your chest up.
  • Make sure that your weight remains in the mid-back portion of your feet but keep your toes down, particularly your big and baby toes. This will improve your stability and strength, and ability to perform the exercise.
  • Maintain a neutral spine.
  • Do not allow your knees to collapse in or fall outside of your feet.
  • Squat only as deep as proper form allows you to go. Do not sacrifice form for depth.
  • Reset before each rep.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.
  • Make your first set your warm-up set and just use bodyweight or a the barbell only
  • Only add more weight when you have good form. Your number one priority should be good form, not making yourself tired.

Video Transcription: 

The lumberjack squat is one of my favorite squat variations to load the anterior core and to help teach people who have a hard time sitting up tall in the squat to do just that.  As you can see the way I have the barbell set up it's wedged in between two weight plates in the floor.  Now some gyms actually have a apparatus where you can slide the end of the barbell into a holster and use it that way.  You can also wedge the barbell in the corner of the room, wrapped in a towel so it doesn't damage the wall.

Now with the lumberjack squat you are going to push back into your hips, pick up the barbell safely and you are going to hold your hands almost in that goblet position.  You are going to have to play around with your spacing a little bit. but you start out leaning slightly forward hold the weight right at your chest, squat down. Okay, I’m a little bit too close so I am going to move back a bit.  Here, squat, come up. So I am sitting back in my hips, bracing my core, keeping my rib cage down, driving my knees out. And a lot of people will turn this into an overhead press. So, lumberjack squat to overhead press.    


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About the author:  Alli McKee

Alli is a certified strength and conditioning specialist. She's contributed to and modeled for a number of major publications including Oxygen magazine and the New Rules of Lifting: Supercharged. You can find out more about Alli on her personal blog at

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