When it comes to equipment-free exercise options, bodyweight squats or some variation of them make it into just about every bodyweight workout program. That makes sense, because squatting is a fundamental human movement.
It should be simple, right? Unfortunately this isn’t necessarily the case. Our increasingly sedentary lifestyle messes with our movement patterns, pulls apart our posture, and makes even the most well-intentioned person chair-shaped. We no longer have access to the free, natural movement we had as children, and we have to learn to squat all over again.
But don’t despair! We’re in your corner, and we’ll get you on the fast track to a whole new you.
Check out the video for a detailed primer on exactly how to perform this fundamental movement.
Let’s review the main performance cues of the bodyweight squat:
- Begin by standing tall with your spine long, core engaged, and feet about shoulder width apart.
- Try to keep your feet straight and parallel, but don’t worry if you can’t. Turning up to 15 degrees to the outside is okay — just make sure your knees track in the same direction as your feet when you squat.
- Break at the waist first — pretend you’re sitting back in an imaginary chair.
- Your back should remain neutral throughout. Squat to the point where you can maintain a flat back. That’s your current range.
- Press through your heels to return to standing.
It’s a simple movement, but there really is a lot to it, and it may take some practice to nail down the fine points. The cool thing is, it carries over to all aspects of your life! Bending down to pick up that penny on the sidewalk just got a whole lot easier…
And what about your workouts? Where do you go when bodyweight squats stop making you sweat and gasp?
Once you’ve mastered the basic version of this seemingly simple exercise, you open yourself up to an entire range of more advanced possibilities. You can increase the load with one-legged squats — pistol style with the free leg in front, or lunge style with the free leg in back. You can put a little spring in your step with jump squats. You can add movement components to the bottom portion for burpees, mountain climbers, and deck squats. The list goes on and on.
Bodyweight squats. They’re versatile, adaptable, fundamental, entirely natural, and jeez, we just plain like them.
Get practicing, and if you’ve got questions please post them in the comment section.