Young women go in for a squat workout at home

Bodyweight Squats

If you were to choose an exercise to do for the rest of your life, consider focusing on bodyweight squats or exercises like the bench press or deadlift.

Among the bodyweight exercises many would agree that squats reign supreme. While leg day may not be everyone's favorite it's important to give squats the respect they deserve.

Squats, one of the three core lifts, in every gym goers routine not build lower bodies but also enhance overall strength and conditioning. Some people underestimate the effectiveness of bodyweight squats compared to weighted squats. That assumption is incorrect.

Bodyweight squats, also known as air squats provide benefits as their weighted counterparts if performed with form. Mastering bodyweight squats can lead to improvements in your physique.. If you're up for a challenge there are plenty of variations to test your lower body strength.

Understanding the importance of squats is crucial. You've probably already heard about their benefits; strengthening your body, engaging your core and posterior chain muscles and even triggering muscle building hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone.

Why should you consider incorporating bodyweight squats into your exercise routine? Well squats improve flexibility, reduce the risk of injury and enhance performance but they also offer a versatile and essential workout option.

One of the great advantages of squats is their efficiency. With one movement you can engage your body and get a comprehensive workout in less time.

Now let's dive deeper into the benefits of bodyweight squats. While many forms of training require overload to see results bodyweight exercises, like squats fall into the category of kinetic chain movements. These movements engage muscle groups. Require coordination among various muscles in your body's kinetic chain. For example, compare bench presses with push ups. You'll notice how push ups effectively engage your core due to the absence of bench support.

Additionally incorporating bodyweight exercises into your routine can improve awareness or internal body awareness. This heightened sense of balance and adaptability can further enhance your fitness.


A Woman Doing the Squats with a Resistance Band


When it comes to building muscle with bodyweight squats keep in mind that while progressive overload is important for muscle and strength gains it may be less critical than you might think—especially if you're a beginner. The effectiveness of bodyweight squats depends on factors such as your fitness level, goals and overall exercise routine.

Beginners can expect to see improvements while experienced powerlifters may notice fewer gains.

However it is entirely possible to achieve a toned physique through bodyweight exercises. We can take Jason Statham as an example who maintains his ripped physique with a routine focused on bodyweight exercises. The results you achieve will depend on your goals and current fitness level. Combining weightlifting with calisthenics bodyweight exercises or plyometrics can provide a rounded approach to training.

Perfecting your form in bodyweight squats is crucial for beginners. Bodyweight squats offer an opportunity to refine your technique and experience benefits.

Follow these steps for bodyweight squats;

  1. Stand with a back looking forward, feet positioned hip to shoulder width and toes slightly angled outward.
  2. Engage your core muscles. Initiate the squat by hinging at the hips while maintaining spine alignment. Imagine as if you are sitting back into a chair. You can experiment with hand positions for balance, such as placing your hands behind your head like in a prisoner squat.
  3. Keep the weight centered around the foot area and ensure that your knees follow the direction of your feet without collapsing inward.
  4. Aim to squat until your thighs are parallel or lower, to the floor striving for your hamstrings to rest comfortably on your calves.

Pause briefly, at the bottom to avoid relying on momentum while ascending.

To rise, engage your core, glutes and thighs as you push through your feet all while maintaining a spine.

Complete the movement by returning to the position.

Tips for mastering bodyweight squats;

  •  Experiment with foot positions to find what feels most comfortable and effective for you.
  •  Ensure that your weight is evenly distributed across your foot.
  •  Focus on driving through your whole foot to ensure proper knee alignment.
  •  Maintain a neutral spine throughout the entire movement.
  •  Squeeze your abdominal muscles particularly during the ascent to protect your spine and generate more power.
  •  Practice breathing by exhaling as you rise and inhaling as you lower.
  •  Avoid mistakes such as rounding your back, lifting your feet off the ground or squatting too quickly.

Advanced bodyweight squat variations;

Once you have mastered the bodyweight squat challenge yourself further by trying these variations that add complexity and depth to this already effective exercise;

Give the prisoner squat a try by placing your hands behind your neck. This engages stabilizing muscles.

Explore the split squat, which is a unilateral exercise that tests both leg strength and balance. Elevate one foot on a bench, for added challenge. For a workout you can try the pistol squat, which is a unilateral exercise that requires both flexibility and strength. If you want to make it more intense you can incorporate jump squats or use dumbbells or kettlebells for goblet squats.

When it comes to achieving fitness success squats are a powerhouse exercise that should never be underestimated. You don't necessarily need a barbell and squat rack to reap the benefits of squats. Bodyweight squats alone offer advantages. Can be further enhanced by incorporating advanced variations. Just remember to warm up, maintain a diet and prioritize rest days in order to optimize your fitness journey. Whether you're just starting out or an experienced fitness enthusiast, squats should definitely have a place in your routine as they help build strength and assist in reaching your fitness goals.

James Freeman


Liam Marshall, the friendly fitness coach, has spent 14 years sharing his love for sports and fitness. With degrees in sports science, he crafts workouts that fit like your favorite jeans. Beyond the gym, he organizes sports clinics and tech-savvy fitness apps that motivate people worldwide. He's all about making fitness doable for everyone, and it's not just about bodies – it's boosting confidence. In 2019, he scored the "Virginia Fitness Coach of the Year" award. Outside the fitness world, he loves family time and hikes in Shenandoah National Park. Liam's journey from a small-town fitness fan to a big-time coach is all about passion, inspiring people to see fitness as a body-and-mind thing. Catch him on Instagram to stay in the loop!