Most people are at least vaguely aware that squats are one of the most effective lower-body strengthening exercises out there. But let’s face it, they are not fun to do.
For me personally, it’s always been somewhat of a mystery to me that as much as I’m very serious and disciplined about my running workouts and I know squats would augment my training and improve my performance, I just can’t get myself to do them with any regularity.
I might try a set or two once or twice a month, but that’s really not going to be anywhere near the training stimulus my legs and glutes need to actually make real improvements in strength. Despite knowing the benefits, how to do them, and that they’d make me a better runner, I simply have an overwhelming lack of motivation.
So I was stoked to hear about the Stealth Squat trainer and app. The Stealth Squat gamifies squat workouts, making it a lot more fun to fit them into your regular routine. I decided to give it a whirl and see if it would make a difference.
What is the Stealth Squat?
Like a TRX or other suspension trainers, the Stealth Squat trainer hangs from suspension straps tethered to a door anchor. There are two handles that you grip on either side, sort of like an elongated steering wheel.
The length of the tether is adjustable based on your height and door setup, and the ergonomic plastic portion you hold onto spins 360 degrees, which is part of the challenge of the exercise. A phone mount in the center adjusts to hold any smartphone, which you use to play the games in the connected app.
Photo: Stealth Squat
How it works
To use the Stealth Squat, you hold onto the handles and then squat down, sitting your hips back as you bend your knees and hips as you normally would with a squat. I’ve been a certified personal trainer for 13 years at this point, and have found that training beginners to learn proper squat technique if they’ve never done squats—or worse, have done squats but don’t know how to do them correctly—can be hard. Many people squat forward, allowing their knees to extend well beyond their toes, which can put stress on the knees and doesn’t really use the glutes, hamstrings, and quads effectively.
This is where the Stealth Squat really shines. Because it’s tethered to the door, in order to really take up the slack and use the trainer, you pretty much have to sit your hips back and squat properly, making the movement safer on your knees and more effective overall.
Plus, because you have to hold the device with tension, you also end up working your shoulders and arms, which a normal bodyweight squat doesn’t do. In this way, it makes squats more of a total-body workout. I really felt the exercise in my shoulders and lats (back muscles) the first few days I started using it.
The Stealth Squat in action
The Stealth Fitness App has instructions for how to use the Stealth Squat and it has two games you can play with the trainer: Squat Runner and Skate Chaser. Both are video games where you control an avatar and avoid obstacles by doing full squats, squat pulses, or squats with core twists, while trying to capture diamonds or other points.
I loved the games, particularly Squat Runner. The graphics are great and it made the squats way more enjoyable to do. In fact, I had so much fun playing the first day that I was so sore the next morning that I had to walk down the stairs sideways. (For the record, I don’t recommend playing for 12 minutes on day one if you never do squats!)
The app keeps track of your top scores and you can set it up to remind you every day to do your workout.
There are also core games, which I tried, not realizing you need a separate piece of equipment for those. I attempted to jerry rig the squat trainer onto the floor, but it didn’t really work. It’s too bad the same unit can’t be used for both.
In fact, my one gripe with the Stealth Squat is that it only is useful for squats. While squats are a very effective exercise, I would love to be able to use the equipment for other exercises so that I don’t have to buy and have space for multiple products.
That said, the Stealth Squat more than delivers on its promise to make squats more fun. Additionally, a major benefit is that the design also makes it much easier and more natural to properly execute squats, making it a safe and effective training tool—especially for beginners.
Whether you’re like me and struggle to get yourself to do squats, or you’re not really sure if you’re doing them right, the Stealth Squat is worth a try. Your glutes and legs will reward you for your efforts!