Bodyweight squats are one of the most popular lower body exercises for a reason. Squats are one of the best exercises you can do to increase strength in all the major muscles of your legs (quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves).
In this article, I’ll highlight the major benefits of bodyweight squats, how to complete them correctly, and how to use equipment to make them even more effective!
Benefits of Bodyweight Squats
There is a multitude of benefits to adding squats to your routine! As a certified personal trainer, I must reel in my excitement of sharing the details of such a powerful, high-quality exercise.
What I can say is if squats are not already a part of your routine you need to consider adding them in, and after reading the benefits below it’ll be hard to convince yourself not to.
1) Bodyweight Squats Are a Great Exercise to Build Lower Body Strength
As I mentioned previously, bodyweight squats are a great way to increase strength in your lower body. Squats primarily strengthen your quads, hip flexors, and glutes. They also get some help from your hamstrings, calves, abdominals, and lower back to complete the movement properly and safely.
Because of the nature of squats, they’re also an easy exercise to load with weight if you’re looking for a challenge. Whether you use a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, or the Row-N-Ride®, there are endless ways to continue increasing the difficulty and increasing your strength with a squat.
2) You Can Do Bodyweight Squats Anywhere & Everywhere
One of the best things about bodyweight squats is all you need to perform them is your beautiful body! They can be performed virtually anywhere, even if you’re working with limited space and no equipment. Whether you’re at home, on your lunch break, or on vacation you always have bodyweight squats.
3) Squats Help You Move Better Throughout the Day
Squats are also a great functional exercise. Functional exercises are those that mimic movements we perform through activities of daily living.
When we perform squats, we use a movement pattern most of us are not only familiar with but use numerous times a day. By training to not only strengthen our bodies in this movement pattern but complete it correctly and safely, we’re able to move better throughout the day.
4) Including Squats in Your Regular Routine Will Increase Your Balance & Stability
If increasing balance and stability isn’t already one of your fitness goals, it should be. These two elements can help us move safely throughout the day.
For one, increasing both stability and balance will help us go about our days without fear of falling as we age.
5) Attaining Proper Squat Form Will Help You Complete Other Exercises
Squats are a fundamental movement. This means the movement pattern we use during squatting is foundational for a variety of other exercises.
When you start connecting the dots of properly positioning your body and moving effectively through a squat, it’s like a domino effect to other movements in your fitness routine. Your entire workout routine will feel a positive effect.
Bodyweight Squats Form
Squats are not an easy exercise to get right. In fact, we usually see those who are new to strength training struggle with compensation patterns during squatting. Compensation patterns typically occur when you’re weak or tight in a certain area, or simply haven’t been previously trained in what a good squat looks like.
Below, get all the details for completing your perfect bodyweight squat!
1) Get Set Up
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, feet pointed straight forward or slightly out if that’s more comfortable for you. Tighten your glutes, screwing your heels into the ground. Stand tall, with an upright posture, and a proud chest. This is your starting position.
2) Sit Back with Hips
From your starting position, shift back with your hips as if sitting into a chair. Remember to keep your chest up, and knees behind the toes. It’s natural for your upper body to shift forward slightly to compensate for the weight shifting back, your torso should match the angle of your shins respectively.
3) Achieve Desired Squat Depth
Squat to a depth of 90 degrees if possible, meaning your upper leg and lower leg form a 90-degree angle. If you are unable to squat to that depth, simply go as deep as your mobility will allow you to without pain or compensating your form.
4) Drive through the Ground to Stand
Pause at the bottom of your squat. Then drive through the heels and glutes to return to your starting position. If you need to reset your starting position before completing another rep, do so. The more you practice your starting stance the more natural it will become.
How to Make Bodyweight Squats More Effective
There are many ways to make your squat more effective. As I’ve mentioned before, simply adding weight is a great way to make your squat more challenging, and build more lean muscle.
If you’re apprehensive about traditional strength training, the Row-N-Ride® is an incredible option for making squats more accessible and effective at home. Below, you’ll find listed just a few of the many ways the Row-N-Ride can help to benefit your at-home strength training routine
1) Pivoting Foot Pedals
As a trainer, one of the many compensations I notice in not only those who are new to strength training but even seasoned athletes is a lack of ankle mobility. If you lack ankle mobility, it can be hard to reach your desired squat depth.
With the Row-N-Ride®, you can easily achieve deeper squats! The pivoting foot pedals mean you can position your feet and move your ankles as they feel comfortable to you. This feature can’t be replicated with just your body weight. The Row-N-Ride makes it easy for anyone to achieve deeper squats.
2) Supportive Handlebar & Seat
I often see that many beginners are nervous to sit back with their hips. While it can be scary to try at first, this is an essential element of a squat that will help you activate your glutes and keep your knees in a safe position.
There are two things I’d do with you if you’re struggling to sit back with your hips. The first is to use a stable surface that’s easy to grab onto like a power rack or pole. I’d then have you hold on and practice sitting back from there. You’ll notice it’s way easier with the added support.
The second thing I’d have you work on is chair squats, where you’re essentially sitting back on a bench or a chair. This automatically forces you to sit back with your hips, since this is the natural way you sit in a chair. Plus, if you don’t shift your weight back, you’ll miss the chair (pretty good motivation)!
Guess what the Row-N-Ride® has? That’s right, a handlebar and a seat. The Row-N-Ride sets you up in a great position without always needing a trainer at your side to correct your form.
3) Adjustable Resistance
Finally, but most importantly, let’s talk resistance! The most important part of making your squats more effective is making them more challenging over time. Continually challenging our muscles with more resistance will help us continue building strength and lean muscle.
The Row-N-Ride® makes adjusting resistance a breeze! Not only can you squat with no resistance - or just your bodyweight - but you also have the option of adding 3 levels of resistance with the attached resistance bands. The resistance bands apply 22 lbs. each, for the option of 66 lbs. total.
To conclude, bodyweight squats are an extremely powerful and effective exercise for building functional, lower body strength.
If squats are not already a part of your routine, I’d highly recommend adding them in. If bodyweight squats are a part of your routine, I encourage you to continue progressing by adding some resistance, trying out other variations to target more muscles, or adding the Row-N-Ride® to your home gym!