The Kang squat combines two lower body exercises — the traditional back squat and the good morning.

It’s a popular but advanced exercise used by strength and power athletes, but it has also become popular among recreational gym goers.

This article explains everything you need to know about the Kang squat, including how to properly perform the movement, its benefits, and the muscles it works.

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Santiago Nunez/Stocksy United

Said to be named after South Korean world-class weight lifting coach Shin-Ho Kang, the Kang squat is a hybrid exercise that combines components of the traditional back squat and the good morning.

The traditional back squat is a foundational lower body exercise that requires the use of a barbell.

A good morning is an assistance exercise widely performed by powerlifters and Olympic-style weightlifters to enhance their performance for other exercises like deadlifts and squats.

The exercise’s name was thought to come about because the movement in your back during the exercise resembles the rise out of bed to stretch in the morning.

By combining the squat and the good morning, the Kang squat targets the back, glutes, and hamstrings.

Here are the steps to perform a Kang squat:

  • Step 1: Position a barbell on the back of your shoulders and grasp the bar at the sides. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Step 2: Keeping your back straight, bend at the hips to lower your torso forward until it’s parallel to the floor. This is the good morning portion.
  • Step 3: Maintaining a straight spine, sit back by bending your knees and dropping your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor. This is the back squat portion.
  • Step 4: Extend your knees and raise your hips until your torso is parallel to the floor, returning to the good morning portion.
  • Step 5: Raise your torso until your hips are fully extended. Repeat.

If you’re not comfortable with performing the movement with a barbell, try the exercise using only your body weight or a kettlebell held close to your chest.

Check out this video for a demonstration with body weight, kettlebell, and barbell.

You can perform the Kang squat in one fluid motion, or pause for two counts between steps.

Keep your chin up while performing the movement to help prevent a rounded back, which can lead to injury.

Summary

Follow these steps to safely perform the Kang squat, which targets the back, glutes, and hamstrings.

The Kang squat is a complex and skilled movement that requires some weight lifting experience to safely perform.

However, regardless of your training experience, it may be best to try the movement using only the barbell or a household item like a broomstick to master the proper form first.

You can also perform the movement without a barbell using just your body weight, or less traditional variations with a medicine ball, kettlebell, or sandbag held at your chest.

In any case, once you have the form down, perform the Kang squat using a weight that allows you to perform 8–12 repetitions for 3 sets (1).

As you become stronger, you can increase the weight and lower the number of repetitions you perform.

Summary

Perform the Kang squat using only the barbell or an item like a broomstick to master the movement before adding weight.

The Kang squat can help build the muscles of your posterior chain, namely your hamstrings, glutes, and the muscles that help straighten and rotate your back (2, 3).

Strengthening these muscles translate into improvements in a variety of athletic movements, such as running, throwing, jumping, and punching (4, 5, 6).

Maintaining a stronger posterior chain can also help maintain your functional ability and reduce the risk of falls and fractures with age (7, 8, 9, 10).

Despite its ability to build these muscles, the Kang squat is performed as more of an assistance exercise to enhance performance in other exercises (10).

This is because the exercise strengthens the muscles needed to perform exercises like the deadlift and the clean and jerk or snatch, an Olympic-style weightlifting movement.

By strengthening the muscles used to carry out these exercises, performing the Kang squat can also help reduce the risk of injury (11).

Summary

The Kang squat is known as an assistance exercise because of its ability to enhance performance in other exercises.

The Kang squat is a hybrid exercise involving the back squat and the good morning. It targets your back, hamstrings, and glutes.

It’s a highly complex and skilled movement, so follow the steps provided to safely perform the Kang squat.

While it’s typically performed with a weighted barbell, it may be best to use the barbell itself or a household item like a broomstick to master your form before adding weight.

Remember that you can also perform the exercise using a kettlebell or sandbag instead of a barbell.