- Bodyweight squats guide
- How to perform the bodyweight squat
- Squats for beginners
- Advanced Squats
- Squat exercise variations
- 5 Common BodyWeight Squat Mistakes
- Start doing better squats today!
- Squat Standards (lb)
- The exercise: Barbell back squat
- The exercise: Barbell deadlift
- The exercise: Barbell bench press
- How to Do Bodyweight Squats Correctly Once and for All
- Body Weight Squats – Are They Beneficial?
- Myth #1 – You Can’t Get Strong With Bodyweight Exercises
- Myth #2 – You Can’t Sculpt Muscle with Bodyweight Exercises
- Myth #3 – Bodyweight Workouts are too Easy and Don’t Provide a Physical or Mental Challenge
- Myth #4 – Bodyweight Workouts aren’t the Best Way to Build an Awesome Physique
- Why do bodyweight squats?
- Why do weighted squats?
Bodyweight squats guide
The squat is fundamental body movement that strengthens and tones the lower body. This functional exercise can be performed virtually anywhere with no equipment and little space, and because it’s such a basic movement the benefits will carry over into everyday life.
It’s important for beginners to learn the bodyweight squat before progressing to weighted squats. This will teach you the correct technique with a safe load. Aim for at least 100-200 successive bodyweight squats before progressing to weighted versions.
The benefits of the squat:
- Build muscle: Squats hit your legs hard, requiring multiple muscles to work in unison and stimulates growth.
- Increased strength: Squatting will strengthen your legs and the tendons in your knees like no other exercise.
- Improved hip mobility: The exercise builds and maintains mobility in the hip joint.
- Fat burning / general health: Bodyweight squats allow you to perform many controlled reps in succession, elevating the heart rate and burning fat.
How to perform the bodyweight squat
- Set your feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out. Pull in your lower abs, and keep your eyes forward.
- Slowly bend at the knees and drop your hips to lower your body. Keep your heels flat on the floor.
- At the bottom of the exercise pause for a moment and strongly push back up to the starting position, mirroring the descent.
- Repeat for desired number of reps.
- To counter balance your weight hold your arms out in front of you at shoulder height.
- Keep your back as straight as possible throughout the lift to avoid strain or injury.
Squats for beginners
Squats are almost synonymous today with weight training exercises (see barbell squat). This is most likely due to many people training for muscle-mass or strength gains and outgrowing the standard bodyweight squat in order to acheive these goals.
However the value of the bodyweight squat should not be underestimated. The exercise can be used to build endurance in the legs, learn the correct technique before progressing to weighted versions of the exercise, burn fat, and can be performed almost anywhere with no equipment.
If you’re new to squats you can build up the required strength using assistance techniques. Gymnastics rings and suspension trainers are particularly effective equipment for this.
These tools essentially support some of your bodyweight to make the exercise more achievable (see Suspended Single Leg Squat as an example).
Bodyweight squats are a beginners movement that many people quickly out grow, especially if training for muscle mass and strength rather than endurance or weight loss. If you’re ready to progress from the bodyweight version it’s time to add some increased resistance.
There are many ways to add resistance to a squat. The obvious choice is to increase weight, which can be achieved using a barbell (see barbell squat), by wearing a weighted vest or holding dumbbells, kettlebells and other weighted objects.
Alternatively, resistance bands can be a cheap, effective and ultra-portable method of adding progressive resistance to the squat movement. Simply wrap a heavy-duty band round each foot and over the shoulders to secure in place.
As with all strength exercises you should strive to make incremental and continuous gains. Make small additions to the added resistance to safely progress.
Squat exercise variations
- Weighted squats – see barbell squat, kettlebell squat, goblet squat or use a weighted vest, dumbbells or medicine ball.
- One-legged squat / Pistol squat – the intense, single leg version of the traditional squat exercise (see single leg squat).
- Assisted squats – suspension trainers, resistance bands and gymnastics rings can all be used for squat assistance (see Suspended Single Leg Squat for example).
Can you do a bodyweight squat? Great!
Now, can you do a PROPER bodyweight squat?
Right now you’re asking, “What’s the difference, Steve you weirdo?!”
Today I’m gonna drop some bodyweight squat knowledge bombs on you. Don’t worry, they don’t hurt! Instead, they’ll make your body feel good, and you’ll say: “OOHHHHHHHH, that’s what a squat is!”
Like other basic movements like the pull-up and push-up, most people think they know what a bodyweight squat is, and they think they’re doing them right… but are they?
Judging by the people in my gym, 80%+ of people are actually making some major mistakes in their squat, making the movement inefficient at best and dangerous at worst!
If you have any interest in ever being able to do a barbell squat, you need to first nail the mechanics for a proper bodyweight squat.
We got you covered: by the end of this article you’re going to know exactly what to do and how to remind yourself to keep good form.
We were recently at Camp Nerd Fitness, and NF Team members Staci and Jim along with myself put together a quick 5 minute video explaining the ins and outs of (and common problems people have with) bodyweight squats.
Watch the video and check out the mistakes most people are making with bodyweight squats below.
5 Common BodyWeight Squat Mistakes
Click to play the video above, or view here.
Mistake #1: You stance is too wide or too narrow! Everybody is genetically different. We’re all different sizes and shapes, with longer or shorter legs and torsos, etc. But even still – there are a few key points for any squat that we want to achieve.
We see people often stand too wide or too narrow with their feet. When this happens their squat suffers since they’ve failed to get low enough or have been thrown off balance. A big part of this comes down to hip mobility – sometimes our bodies can’t yet get as low as we should be able to.
Solution: Set your feet about at shoulder width apart, with feet turned slightly out (15-30 degrees). Not parallel with each other like railroad tracks – this can prevent proper depth, twist knees, or mess with your balance.
Mistake #2: Your knees don’t track over your feet! Imagine you drew a line from your heel to your toe, and extended that line in both directions for infinity. Your knees should bend and flex over that line.
If the knees collapse inwards (the most common issue) then you may very well be able to squat low, but you are going to be putting a lot of undue stress on the knees. Your knee is supposed to be a hinge. Putting sideways stress on your knee is a bit like hanging off of a swinging door. Sure, you could do it, but it just isn’t built to take that kind of beating!
Solution: Start in a good position! Before you even start to descend into the squat, think “knees out!” Turn your kneecaps out so they track right over your feet. Your feet and body aren’t moving – just the legs and knees! Try it right now wherever you are sitting or standing: keep your foot stationary, but aim your knee like a flashlight to face different directions.
Mistake #3: You don’t squat deep enough (a power curtsy!). Some people think squatting below parallel is dangerous for your knees. If that’s true then your knees would explode every time you went for a run, climbed a step, or sat in a chair. Your knees actually get STRONGER and healthier when you squat deeper. Deep squatting makes for a complete movement that recruits all muscles in your legs. When you only squat a bit, you’re not recruiting all leg muscles, and that leads to imbalance and injury.
We are not advocating that you squat into a range of motion that causes pain. The first rule of exercise is “do no harm!” But we often see a host of people not squat low enough, either out of fear, misinformation, ego (too much weight on the bar!)… or just because they’ve made another mistake on this list.
Solution: Squat like a toddler. Ever see a toddler squat down? How low do they go? Until the backs of their legs touch their calves, right? If you can do this, congratulations! Many have lost the necessary mobility or strength to be able to do this.
If you lack the strength, try grabbing onto a door, squat rack, or workout box to assist you into a deeper range of motion. If even this doesn’t help you, then mobility is your weak point. Practice the assisted squat as seen in the video and spend time pausing in the bottom and you’ll be on your way to improved mobility in no time (note: this will be difficult at first).
Mistake #4: You don’t keep your back straight and core tight. “Straight” doesn’t mean that your torso should remain straight up, perpendicular to the ground like a telephone pole. That’s not how the body moves naturally. We naturally lean a bit forward as we drop down into the squat.
By “straight” we mean that the natural curvature of the spine should be maintained for the entire squat movement. If you drop to the bottom of the squat and look like Gollum hunched over the One Ring, then we have a problem if you ever want to squat with added weight.
Solution: Think: “chest up”. This doesn’t mean “head up” – chest means your chest. Don’t let your head fool you. Puff it up a bit in your squat, like Superman. Did you know that the S actually stands for squats? Yeah, true story.
Be sure to keep your midsection tight and engaged. It should feel like all the muscles around your middle are tensing a bit – like when you cough, or if you were Neo bracing from a punch from Mr. Smith.
Mistake #5: You get up on your toes. Keeping your feet on the ground is essential for a strong and balanced squat. It is your foundation! If you are just squatting down to grab something or look under something, then popping up on the toes a bit is of little concern, but if you are training your body to eventually move weights around (whether in the gym or everyday life), keeping your feet firmly grounded is crucial during your workouts.
Solution: Keep your heels down.
Bonus Mistake #6: You’re overly concerned with your knees going past your toes on your squat. This is an old wives tail bro myth that makes a lot of people freak out over nothing! Depending on your genetic makeup and physiological makeup, your knees may very well go past your toes on a deep squat. This is not the end of the world!
Solution: Let the knees and ankles flex how they were designed! It is a combined effort of the hip, knee, and ankle closing that will get you in a deep, strong squat!
Any preexisting conditions or knee pain notwithstanding, there is no risk to the knees by allowing them to go forward of the toes. There is not a magical forcefield that lives in front of your feet that destroys knees that drift too far. If this were the case, we’d see legions of crippled olympic weightlifters – where the knees go WAY past the toes– heck, they even wear shoes with elevated heels so that they can get their knees forward more!
Start doing better squats today!
There you go, my dear Rebel friend. You now have everything you need to get started down a healthier path to crushing squats AND pull-ups.
- Your stance is too wide/narrow.
- Your knees cave in/don’t track over feet.
- You squat too high.
- Your backs rounds.
- You lean forward on your toes.
- Bonus: You worry about your knees going past your toes.
Check back later this week for more articles and videos on how to improve your favorite bodyweight movements. And if you’re not already signed up for our email list, make sure you are so you don’t miss email-only bodyweight information this month!
The squat is a great strength-builder, and should be a staple of any good resistance training program. It works the major muscle groups in the upper legs: the glutes, quads, and hamstrings, as well as the erector spinae muscles in the back, and the core muscles.
The squat is also a difficult exercise, and one that a lot of people get wrong. It’s very important to learn how to do a proper bodyweight squat to build strength and motor control, prevent injury, and to build a foundation that can be improved by adding resistance. Once you master the bodyweight squat, there are several squat variations and progressions that you can use to keep improving your strength.
Standard Bodyweight Squat:
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, toes pointed slightly outward. Look straight ahead, focusing on a spot in front of you. Extend your arms out in front of you to help with balance.
- Brace your abs, keeping your spine neutral with a slight natural curve in your lower back.
- Initiate the movement by pushing your hips back. It’s important that this begins the movement, rather than starting the movement by bending your knees.
- After pushing your hips back, bend your knees to lower your body towards the floor. Keep your chest and shoulders upright and maintain focus on a spot in front of you to keep your upper back and shoulders from rounding.
- Keep your knees in line with your feet, don’t let them move inwards towards each other.
- Squat down in a slow and controlled manner until your hip joint is lower than your knees.
- Pause for a moment at the bottom.
- Drive through your heels to return your body to the top position. Keep your abs tight throughout the entire movement.
The standard bodyweight squat is difficult for many people due to issues with body control, flexibility, and strength. Common form mistakes are not squatting to the full depth (hips below the knees), heels coming off the floor, knees caving inwards, lower back rounding, too much lean forward at the waist, and dropping down to the bottom position instead of lowering the body under control.
Keep in mind that everyone’s squat will look a little different, depending on their limb length and mobility. That’s the case with all exercises, but for some reason the squat tends to bring out more internet form critics than many other exercises. Don’t worry about your squat looking perfect, focus on moving your body under control and squatting as deep as you can.
Many people are unable to perform a bodyweight squat properly, but attempt to perform weighted squats anyway. That’s trying to build strength on a weak foundation, and it’s not a good idea. Take the time to learn how to perfect your bodyweight squats before moving to weighted squats, and you’ll make safe and consistent strength gains once you start adding weight.
If you can’t do a good bodyweight squat yet, train with these exercises:
Many people struggle to balance and keep their weight on their heels when doing squats, so they’re unable to do a full-depth squat, or they compensate by leaning forward too much.
To help correct this problem, use a solid object to help you balance. Hold onto a sturdy doorframe, pole, table leg, suspension trainer, etc. in front of you and lower yourself into the bottom squat position using the standard bodyweight squat technique (pushing your hips back before bending the knees, keeping the chest and shoulders up and preventing the back from rounding). Focus on shifting your weight back into your heels, using your grip on the doorframe to help hold yourself in a stable position. Try to minimize the amount of assistance you need to use and focus on keeping your body tight as you hold the bottom position for 5-10 seconds, then push through your heels to return to the top position.
For many people, lowering themselves down to the bottom position is the hardest part in terms of balancing their weight. If that’s the case for you, use your grip on the doorframe to keep yourself stable while lowering down, then try to use as little assistance as possible when returning yourself to the top position. Over time, gradually decrease the amount of help you need from the doorframe until you can perform the full movement on your own.
How will this help?
The counterbalanced squat introduces the entire squat movement pattern, while using your hands to provide added stability. Practicing this movement and gradually decreasing the amount of extra support you need will help ingrain the movement pattern and build the core and lower body strength you need to squat properly.
Find a sturdy box, bench, or chair. Stand in front of the box with your back to it and perform a slow and controlled squat until your glutes just touch the box. Focus on shifting your weight back into your heels. Pause for a moment before pushing through your heels to return to the top position. Gradually lower the height as you become more comfortable and proficient, until you’re performing full squats.
How will this help?
Similar to the counterbalanced squat, this variation helps you focus on keeping your weight back and gradually building the motor control and strength you need for the full squat. Squatting down to a sturdy box, bench, or chair provides a mental and physical safety net: if you do lose your balance and fall backwards you can just sit down.
Stretches and Mobility Exercises
Issues with flexibility in the hips and ankles can make it tough for many people to do a full squat. If you have those issues, regular stretching and mobility exercises to help improve your flexibility are important. Even if you don’t have trouble with flexibility or mobility, it’s always a good idea to stretch and perform mobility drills to keep your muscles and joints healthy and prevent pain or injury.
Here’s a great article from Girls Gone Strong with several mobility drills for the ankles and hips, and here’s a great hip stretching article from GMB.
Foam rolling can also be helpful for increasing mobility. Try rolling (or using a lacrosse ball) your glutes, calves, and feet to help loosen up problem areas.
Once you’ve perfected your bodyweight squat form, there are many ways to progress. The most common way is to add resistance with the barbell back squat, but you can also do barbell front squats, dumbbell squats, or goblet squats with added resistance, or work on a more advanced bodyweight squat variation, like the pistol squat.
Can bodyweight squat helps you build mass?
Yes and no.
If you’re skinny and have no muscle at all, then any form of exercise will help to add to your frame. This occured to me when I got into bodyweight training after I was about 160 leaving high school. So doing some squats will help you there.
But if you’re already strong and big the answer is mostly NO.
Bodyweight squats by themselves won’t help. Doing another hundred reps when you can already do 300 won’t help you get bigger.
You can move onto more challenging variations like the one legged squat. Done in strict form for sets of 5-10 reps may help to some degree in building a little more mass. You can make it even more challenging by doing jumping one legged squats.
The explosiveness does help. Just look at sprinters over marathon runners and you’ll see why adding more reps is not the mass answer. And that brings us to sprinting. It’s not bodyweight squats but a bodyweight leg exercise and my favorite is hill sprint training.
This is the difference between high reps and explosiveness for short bursts.
But the truth is many sprinters also use weighted squats, which are the king of mass exercises.
You have to realize with bodyweight training for mass you’re sending the body mixed signals. You want to get bigger but the body doesn’t because that will make all the exercises harder to do. The opposite is true with weights.
So yes bodyweight squats for mass works to a minor degree, but if that’s your goal there are much better ways.
Check out the Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Squats and Pistols to discover how you can build flexibility and stamina for body weight squats and pistols.
Bench Press 12,031,000 lifts Squat 6,951,000 lifts Deadlift 7,072,000 lifts Shoulder Press 1,777,000 lifts Military Press 254,000 lifts Incline Bench Press 368,000 lifts Front Squat 596,000 lifts Barbell Curl 850,000 lifts Hex Bar Deadlift 282,000 lifts Bent Over Row 557,000 lifts Sumo Deadlift 105,000 lifts Hip Thrust 141,000 lifts Romanian Deadlift 147,000 lifts Close Grip Bench Press 46,000 lifts Rack Pull 36,000 lifts EZ Bar Curl 17,000 lifts Pendlay Row 48,000 lifts Decline Bench Press 70,000 lifts Seated Shoulder Press 36,000 lifts Barbell Shrug 100,000 lifts T-Bar Row 70,000 lifts Preacher Curl 31,000 lifts Box Squat 22,000 lifts Barbell Lunge 12,000 lifts Upright Row 46,000 lifts Lying Tricep Extension 62,000 lifts Stiff Legged Deadlift 16,000 lifts Tricep Extension 47,000 lifts Floor Press 14,000 lifts Zercher Squat 10,000 lifts Good Morning 27,000 lifts Wrist Curl 11,000 lifts Landmine Squat 3,000 lifts Bulgarian Split Squat 11,000 lifts Reverse Wrist Curl 4,000 lifts Reverse Barbell Curl 2,000 lifts Split Squat 6,000 lifts Reverse Grip Bench Press 1,000 lifts
Pull Ups 980,000 lifts Push Ups 477,000 lifts Chin Ups 221,000 lifts Dips 393,000 lifts Bodyweight Squat 37,000 lifts Sit Ups 55,000 lifts Muscle Ups 53,000 lifts Lying Leg Raise 1,000 lifts One Arm Push Ups 15,000 lifts Single Leg Squat 18,000 lifts Diamond Pushups 3,000 lifts Burpees 11,000 lifts Crunches 31,000 lifts Neutral Grip Pull Ups 2,000 lifts Handstand Push Ups 12,000 lifts One Arm Pull Ups 3,000 lifts Lunge 8,000 lifts Russian Twist 1,000 lifts Glute Bridge 1,000 lifts Back Extension 1,000 lifts Inverted Row 1,000 lifts Toes To Bar 1,000 lifts Hanging Leg Raise 2,000 lifts Glute Ham Raise 626 lifts
Power Clean 449,000 lifts Clean and Jerk 184,000 lifts Push Press 135,000 lifts Snatch 188,000 lifts Clean 151,000 lifts Hang Clean 32,000 lifts Overhead Squat 42,000 lifts Clean and Press 132,000 lifts Power Snatch 34,000 lifts Push Jerk 41,000 lifts Thruster 45,000 lifts
Dumbbell Bench Press 864,000 lifts Dumbbell Curl 674,000 lifts Dumbbell Shoulder Press 426,000 lifts Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 210,000 lifts Dumbbell Hammer Curl 52,000 lifts Dumbbell Row 166,000 lifts Dumbbell Lateral Raise 198,000 lifts Dumbbell Tricep Extension 43,000 lifts Goblet Squat 30,000 lifts Dumbbell Fly 53,000 lifts Dumbbell Lunge 44,000 lifts Dumbbell Shrug 55,000 lifts Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat 20,000 lifts Arnold Press 18,000 lifts Dumbbell Pullover 9,000 lifts Dumbbell Concentration Curl 32,000 lifts Dumbbell Front Raise 39,000 lifts Dumbbell Tricep Kickback 2,000 lifts Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift 4,000 lifts Incline Dumbbell Curl 11,000 lifts Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extension 18,000 lifts Incline Dumbbell Fly 17,000 lifts Dumbbell Floor Press 4,000 lifts Dumbbell Reverse Fly 6,000 lifts Chest Supported Dumbbell Row 1,000 lifts Decline Dumbbell Bench Press 5,000 lifts
Sled Leg Press 345,000 lifts Horizontal Leg Press 193,000 lifts Chest Press 77,000 lifts Leg Extension 117,000 lifts Calf Raise 66,000 lifts Machine Shoulder Press 33,000 lifts Pec Deck Fly 23,000 lifts Vertical Leg Press 20,000 lifts Seated Leg Curl 47,000 lifts Hack Squat 18,000 lifts Lying Leg Curl 36,000 lifts Seated Calf Raise 12,000 lifts Hip Abduction 11,000 lifts Hip Adduction 7,000 lifts
Lat Pulldown 267,000 lifts Seated Cable Row 49,000 lifts Tricep Pushdown 82,000 lifts Tricep Rope Pushdown 57,000 lifts Cable Fly 14,000 lifts Face Pull 15,000 lifts Cable Curl 4,000 lifts Cable Lateral Raise 1,000 lifts Cable Crunch 1,000 lifts Cable Pull Through 813 lifts One Arm Cable Curl 1,000 lifts + More Exercises
Sorry – we can’t find that exercise, though we may have it by another name e.g. try barbell curl instead of biceps curl.
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It’s hard to go a day in the gym without hearing someone ask the inevitable—“What do you bench?” Those four words alone can make some shudder with embarrassment while forcing others to puff out their chest with pride. There’s just something about putting up big numbers on the major strength exercises. Having a huge squat number is an easy way to impress gym-goers. Read below to find out how you stack up strength-wise, as well as some tools to improve numbers that fall short.
The exercise: Barbell back squat
Average joe: 1.5x bodyweight
Above average: 1.75x bodyweight
Superhero: 2.5x bodyweight
Boost your numbers:
Boasting huge numbers on back squats comes with some bragging rights. Strong legs not only help boost athletic performance, but bigger leg movements also correlate with better strength and size throughout other areas of the body. If you’re falling short on strength, try adding box squats to your routine. They help build explosiveness in your lower body and allow you to lift more weight when you head back to traditional back squats. Also, focus on putting squats into your program 2-3 times a week, but only go heavy 1-2 times. Keep the other days lighter and focus on form.
The exercise: Barbell deadlift
Average joe: 1.5x bodyweight
Above average: 2x bodyweight
Superhero: 2.75x bodyweight
Boost your numbers:
The ability to pull heavy objects off the gym floor correlates well with overall strength. Pulling big numbers requires immense core, grip, back, and leg strength. There’s hardly a muscle that the deadlift doesn’t touch. If you can’t quite hit the big numbers, try working on form. Most guys stand too far back from the bar and limit themselves from the get-go. Have your form on point? Try mixing in rack pulls where the bar is set at shin height. Having a shorter distance to go allows the lifter to load on more weight and boost strength. Also, throw in some mornings with moderately heavy loads to strengthen the lower back and prepare for big lifts.
The exercise: Barbell bench press
Average joe: 1x bodyweight
Above average: 1.5x bodyweight
Superhero: 2x bodyweight
Boost your numbers:
Gym bragging rights often go to the guy with the biggest bench press. Something about loading up a bar and pushing it off your chest just seems manly. Along with having bragging rights, throwing up a decent number on the bench press also helps you fill out a shirt and build an impressive upper body physique. If you’re falling short on target numbers, think about getting away from traditional bench pressing for a few weeks and substituting with floor pressing. Similar to the box squat, floor presses will help you develop explosive power in your upper body, and strengthen your triceps and accessory muscle groups. Also, don’t forget that overall shoulder strength and balance are important for increasing your bench. Don’t neglect pulling movements, including heavy rows and pullups.
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How to Do Bodyweight Squats Correctly Once and for All
Ah, the squat. In the current “Age of the Booty,” the squat has risen to the top of the exercise food chain, earning memes and emojis galore. But is this exercise move all it’s cracked up to be?
Short answer: yes. Long answer: hell yes. The bodyweight squat isn’t just an exercise, but one of the five main foundational movements for daily life, according to the American Council On Exercise. That’s why it’s important to master, whether you’re interested in tearing it up in the gym, building a super-strong booty, or just making it through life uninjured. (And, FYI, squats actually aren’t the best exercise for building bigger, stronger glutes.)
Bodyweight Squat Benefits and Variations
“It’s the simplest exercise you can do while still getting the highest return,” says Rachel Mariotti, the NYC-based trainer demo-ing the move above. “It works major muscle groups: your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and core.”
How you perform a squat can identify muscle imbalances, mobility deficiencies, and other strengths and weaknesses that may be important to address during your fitness routine. “This is your baseline,” says Mariotti. “If you don’t have this exercise nailed down, you shouldn’t be doing any variation of it.” (Peep the form tips below or have a trainer or instructor check out your form to know for sure.)
Feel like you haven’t mastered the form quite yet? Try not to lower as far down. Perform squats while holding onto a TRX or other suspension tool or with your back on a stability ball on the wall.
If you are in fact ready to progress, try some of the many bodyweight squat variations that’ll work your lower body and core in slightly different ways, add some plyometrics, or incorporate weight to the standard squat using dumbbells, kettlebells, a barbell, or other resistance training tools.
How to Do a Bodyweight Squat
A. Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, with toes turned slightly outward. Brace abdominal muscles to engage core.
B. Inhale and initiate the movement by hinging at the hips first, then bend knees to lower into a squat position until 1) thighs are parallel or almost parallel with the floor, 2) heels begin to lift off the floor, or 3) torso starts to round or flex forward. (Ideally, in the lowest position, the torso and shin bone should be parallel to each other.)
C. Exhale and press into the mid-foot to straighten legs to stand, hips and torso rising at the same time.
Do 8 to 15 reps. Try 3 sets.
Bodyweight Squat Form Tips
- Make sure to push hips back and sit into mid-foot and heels.
- Don’t allow knees to push too far forward.
- Continue bracing abs throughout the movement to keep back flat.
- Watch for movement in the feet, ankles, and knees, trying to track knees directly over second toes.
- By Lauren Mazzo @lauren_mazzo
Body Weight Squats – Are They Beneficial?
Body weight squats, sometimes called deep knee bends, can be performed anywhere and without equipment. They are a good way to tone the lower body and raise core temperature. Performed correctly, body weight squats are a beneficial addition to your fitness routine. Read on for how to do a body weight squat and why you should.
How to do a body squat
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Your spine should be straight and your feet facing forward. Extend your arms straight in front of you with palms facing down. Keeping your gaze forward, bend your knees until your thighs are parallel with the ground (they should look like a flat surface from a side view of your body). Hold for 5 seconds before slowly returning to a standing position. Repeat for two sets of 10.
Why do body squats
Body squats are good for warming up the body and raising your core temperature. They are a good way to start your exercise routine. Performed regularly these exercises can help you begin toning your glutes and quads. Body squats are also beneficial because they are a gateway exercise. You can use the strength you build doing them to successfully take on gradually more demanding exercises or even to improve your running form and avoid injury.
Reaping the benefits of body squats
As with any kind of exercise your body will quickly adapt to the workload of body squats if you do them regularly. To continue reaping the benefits of this lower body workout you will need to modify the squat. Here are some ideas:
Increase the repetitions – increase the number of squats you do by about ten percent each week.
- Increase the sets – if you start with two sets, move to three so that you continue challenging your muscles.
- Increase the intensity – if you hold each squat for five seconds to start, increase that to eight or ten seconds as you build strength.
- Reduce or eliminate rest time between sets.
- Pair or alternate body squats with another exercise such as squat jumps. Stand with feet shoulder length apart, with your arms extended fully at your sides lower your bottom until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Next swing your arms above your head and jump high into the air.
Body weight squats offer a good, low-impact type of exercise that helps you build fitness and muscle strength. Consider wearing a brace if you have knee trouble. You should also take care to wear sneakers that offer stabilizing support. Ultimately, any movement is beneficial. Humans were not meant to sit as much as we do. Body squats are a good way to get moving because the risk of injury is low while the long term benefits are high.
It’s always fun to take a sledge hammer to popular myths. We’ve done it before with 6 Female Strength Training Myths that Won’t Die.
Today, we’re gonna shatter some common bodyweight exercise and workout myths.
Loosen up your arm and let’s start swingin’!
Myth #1 – You Can’t Get Strong With Bodyweight Exercises
Yes, you can get crazy strong with bodyweight exercises. But please keep in mind the rule of specificity. There’s a difference between getting strong on the powerlifts (squat, bench press, and deadlift) and being able to perform advanced bodyweight exercises such as pistols and handstand push-ups. The term “strength” is relative and we must keep things in context.
Will you become a world record powerlifter using nothing but bodyweight exercises? No, of course not.
Can you constantly challenge yourself, increase your strength, and accomplish great physical feats with bodyweight exercises? Of course.
There’s no arguing that an individual who can perform L sit pull-ups, one arm push-ups, pistols, handstand push-ups, and other advanced bodyweight exercises is strong.
I recommend moonwalking after completing a set of handstand push-ups, but the choice is yours
Building strength with bodyweight exercises is a huge plus for trainees who can’t perform heavy barbell lifts. Whether it’s due to a lack of equipment or, as was my case for a long time, due to an injury. I tweaked my back over a year ago and I couldn’t squat, deadlift, or press a barbell without being in pain.
But, I still wanted to be strong.
My solution? Focus on what I COULD do – and that was bodyweight exercises.
I progressed my way to perform advanced bodyweight exercises like L-sit chin-ups, handstand push-ups, and one-and-a-half-rep pistols. So, I got to scratch my “strength itch” using a different form of training.
Bodyweight workouts allowed me to get strong, stay motivated (which is important), and even gave my physique and nice boost with some extra muscle and less fat. Win-win-win.
Myth #2 – You Can’t Sculpt Muscle with Bodyweight Exercises
“You can’t sculpt muscle with just bodyweight squats and push-ups.”
While a beginner can certainly make progress and build muscle with just bodyweight squats and push-ups, they will eventually stop making progress. After all, you can only perform so many squats and push-ups before you’re doing a ton of reps, or you give up from excruciating boredom.
That’s why you must focus on progression with bodyweight workouts. You must challenge yourself to perform more difficult variations and improve your performance. For example, if you can perform flawless sets of traditional push-ups, you must challenge yourself to perform a more difficult variation.
Or, let’s say you can’t do a traditional push-up just yet (and I stress yet). If you focus your workouts on getting stronger, improving your performance, and progressing towards more advanced push-up variations, you’ll get results like sculpting some sexy muscle and losing excess fat.
Here’s how your progression could look if you had to start with elevated push-ups (hands on a bench, table, etc).
As you work your way from elevated push-ups to feet elevated push-ups, you’ll sculpt some muscle and build a better body. Plus, you’ll get stronger and achieve physical feats you weren’t once capable of; total win!
Bottom line – progression and using advanced variations is how you can sculpt muscle with bodyweight exercises. Neglect this rule and you won’t get results.
Myth #3 – Bodyweight Workouts are too Easy and Don’t Provide a Physical or Mental Challenge
Again, if you never progress beyond the standard bodyweight exercises, you’ll get bored to tears and not make any progress with your physique or strength.
You need to follow a program with planned progressions so you stay motivated to workout and to keep challenging your body and mind.
This is where strength training techniques for busting plateaus like rest/pause, timed sets, tempo manipulation, and 1.5 reps come in handy.
Here’s a video where I demonstrate the 1.5 rep technique with inverted rows.
Using the 1.5 rep method instantly makes the exercise more challenging. Give it a shot and you’ll see for yourself.
Not only do techniques like 1.5 reps, rest/pause, and others provide much needed variety, they allow you to improve your performance and challenge yourself in unique ways. Plus, they’re fun.
That’s the solution: use different techniques to provide a challenge and change of pace.
Myth #4 – Bodyweight Workouts aren’t the Best Way to Build an Awesome Physique
“There’s no way you can build a great physique using only bodyweight exercises.”
I used to believe this myth many years ago. Then I had no choice but to use bodyweight only workouts.
First, let me get this out of the way: There’s no optimal tool or holy grail of building a better body.
I’m not going to sell you on the lie that “OMG, bodyweight workouts are the bestestestest (that’s totally a word) and ultimate way to build an amazing body!!!”
Bodyweight-only training is awesome and provides many unique benefits such as: you don’t need equipment, the ability to workout any time and anywhere, and it’s also a great way to overcome nagging aches and pains that develop from traditional weight lifting.
But, barbell exercises are awesome, too. So are dumbbells. And kettlebells. And sandbags.
You can build a great body with any of those tools and combinations thereof.
But, if you want a new challenge, the ability to workout any time and anywhere, to cut your dedicated workout time in half (since you can do bodyweight workouts anywhere), then I would say that bodyweight workouts are the ultimate No Excuses way to do so.
If all you need is your bodyweight, you don’t have any excuse not to workout because you can do them anywhere. (And you can check out some more bodyweight exercises here: 3 bodyweight exercises for glutes, legs, and shoulders).
All of that to say “Yes, you can build an awesome body with bodyweight only workouts.”
And, if you’ve never challenged yourself to use primarily bodyweight exercises and focus on progressing towards more advanced variations, chances are you’ll reap some awesome physique changing rewards in the process. That’s what happened when I used bodyweight workouts.
Myths busted. Mission accomplished. At least, until next time when we’ll bust four other bodyweight workout myths.
If you want to give bodyweight workouts a shot (or simply want to incorporate them into your strength training program) then check out the Beautiful Badass Bodyweight Workout Guide. It’s got two awesome programs — the Get Strong! Program and the Total Beautiful Badass-ification — plus demonstration videos for every exercise.
In this article we’re going to discuss bodyweight squats vs weighted squats and which is better. There is quite a bit more difference here then in the bodyweight vs. hindu squat debate.
Once again the answer is it depends on your goals.
Why do bodyweight squats?
- Great for flexibility in the legs up to a point
- Great for conditioning
- Requires no equipment
- Can be brutal to people that even have great barbell squat strength and thus show a hole in your training
- Will build a good foundation of strength for beginners
- Usually safer though there is the possibilities of overuse injuries
Why do weighted squats?
- One of the best mass building exercises, if not THE BEST
- One of the best maximum strength building exercises
- Can be an effective conditioning movement itself, with breathing squats
- Build your back and abdominal ability to support large weights
So overall they both have there benefits. Bodyweight squats are great for building a base of strength, flexibility and conditioning. However there is a point where they become too easy.
One of the drawbacks of bodyweight training is that while it’s easy to continually challenge the upper body, it’s harder for the legs. You must add in explosive exercises like hill sprints and jumping to do so, and regular bodyweight squats just won’t cut it. When you’re doing 500 or 1000’s of reps your legs aren’t going to really be getting any stronger.
Even one legged squats become easy at a point.
But weighted squats can be taken far and easily progressed to bigger and bigger loads. Although I’ve focused on the classic barbell back squat you have other variations like front squats or kettlebell squats which are weighted squats as well.
For a beginner I would encourage you to start with bodyweight squats. You can go pretty far with those. From there add in weighted squats and make your choice on what you wish to do.
So while others will continue to argue bodyweight squats vs weighted squats, there really isn’t much of an argument. They both are great!
Check out the Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Squats and Pistols to figure out how to develop flexibility and stamina for body weight squats and pistols.