Jefferson Squat: Odd But Effective Leg Day Training Exercise

If you’re looking for more variation to keep things fresh and interesting, then you might want to consider the Jefferson Squat. Traditionally performed by Strongman athletes, Jefferson squat is a unique lower body exercise, that can help you increase size and strength. Granted, you might get some weird looks as you straddle the barbell in a split-stance, but that’s not to say, it isn’t effective.  We’re going to talk more about how to execute the Jefferson Squat and if it’s the right exercise for you and your leg day training split.

What Is Jefferson Squat 

The Jefferson squat is a compound functional strength training movement, created by Circus Strongman Charles Jefferson over 100 years ago. Like the traditional barbell back squat, the Jefferson squat helps strengthen your posterior chain muscles, including your hamstrings, quads, and glutes. However, the Jefferson Squat is truly unique offering a culmination of benefits. The positioning of Jefferson Squat, places more emphasis on your core, improving balance and stability. Lifting from the floor as opposed to lifting from the rack also changes the dynamics of loading and planes of motion of the body.

Benefits Of Jefferson Squat


Like any compound resistance training exercise, when executed for a prescribed number of reps, you will build more strength over time. The Jefferson Squat requires a wide stance, which stimulates different ancillary muscles than a traditional back squat, specifically the adductors. The adductors are often an overlooked and underutilized secondary support muscle, that can help increase squat performance and strength. With the unique form and load of the movement, you will build more strength overall to increase squat strength.

The adductors primary function is to provide lower body stability during daily movement patterns such as walking, climbing upstairs, and squatting. They are especially important when exercising.

Athletes, in particular, depend on this muscle group to support explosive movements such as running, jumping, and quickly moving from side to side. Additionally, adductors provide mobility at the hip joint, and strengthening them can reduce the risk of injury.

Muscle Mass

With more strength, comes an increase in lean muscle mass. Resistance training stimulates the process of muscle protein synthesis, thereby increasing the rate at which muscle mass is created and developed. With the barbell loaded in a unique position, your body will develop more muscle mass, as opposed to only utilizing a single squat form. As explained earlier, this movement also targets different muscle groups, which will support muscle growth.

Core Stability

The Jefferson Squat requires you to squat the barbell on a multiplanar surface, or uneven surface which increases the demand of core stability and strength, as compared to the front or back squat. The barbell is lifted from the floo, in a split-stance, which requires you to brace your core through the movement. The Jefferson Squat also requires you to stabilize your core so that you prevent your torso from twisting while lifting, thus building more strength and core stability.

How To Do Jefferson Squat

The Jefferson Squat is typically used in Strongman training. Strongman athletes move training implements in a variety of non-traditional ranges of motion. The Jefferson squat is considered a non-traditional range of motion.

Jefferson Squat Set-Up

  • To start, take a split stance over the barbell with a light yet easily manageable load to start.
  • With your front foot forward, make sure your back foot is angled around 90 degrees with a wide stance.
  • Ensure your shoulders are square as you grab the barbell with an over-under grip

The Lift

  • Take a breath in, brace your core, and stand the weight straight up keeping your back straight, and trunk tucked behind you, pushing evenly through your feet, avoiding any twisting.
  • Reverse the movement after you complete the prescribed reps on one side. Switch your grip and switch your foot position and perform the same number of reps on the opposite side

Jefferson Squat: Takeaway 

Although the straddling a barbell in spilt-stance can seem odd, Powerlifters and Strongman can benefit from incorporating the Jefferson Squat in their training protocol. However ordinary gym-goers and athletes can reap the same benefits with other similar movements, such as front squat, sumo squat, or barbell back squat without the awkwardness. But if you’re looking for a new movement to add to your training protocol that will build your core strength, stability, adductors and add some lower-body strength give the Jefferson Squat a try.

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