Bodyweight squats - How to do Free Weight or body Weight Squats


When it comes to building leg strength, nothing comes even closer to full bodyweight squats.

Bodyweight Squats, also called free weight squats are very important to do weighted squats as proper form in body weight squats build strength, flexibility and balance in leg and core muscles.

This will help you lift properly and with heavier weights when you progress to weight training.

Purpose of Bodyweight squats and its benefits

Not many exercises can rival bodyweight squats in terms of building overall lower body strength.

By varying your stance you can target different muscles. You can jump front deep squat position to build explosive strength. Add overhead squats to build core muscles too.

Stance - The most common and effective stance is with your feet shoulder feet apart.

You can point your toes forwards for maximum benefit. If you point your toes outwards, you target vastus medialis muscle of thigh and if you point your toes inwards, you target vastus lateralis muscle more.

Repetition Range- Bodyweight exercises, once you can do them properly, have one rule. Do as many as you can.

Remember you want o build strength, stamina and aerobic capacity to get lean muscles.

High repetitions are the key. You may not want to break records of 100s or even 1000 squats, but a number like 50 is worth a pat on the back.

Execution Technique

Step 1: Stand upright facing forward with your feet shoulder width apart and toes pointing forward.

Step 2: Looking straight ahead, lower your hips as if you are sitting in an imaginary chair. The movement need to start with your hips, followed by bending your knees.

At no point should knees go beyond the toe line. For additional balance, you can raise your arms in front of you.

Step 3: Get to a deep squat position, ideally your hamstring or butt muscles in contact with your calf muscles and get a deep stretch at the bottom.

Step 4: From this low down position, thrust your hips forward and straighten your knees to get  back to top position as if you are about to explode. Keep your chest up, eyes facing forward and arms by your sides.

What to do if you cannot do full squats?

Hip flexibility can be your concern. Initially you can go as far down as your hip flexibility allows you. Work on your hip stretches. As your hip flexibility improves you can do full squats. But do not replace squats with other second priority exercises. Recommends - Workout Without Weights Ebook

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Variations of Regular Squats

1. Wall Squats

In this variation, excellent for beginners who find it difficult to start with hip muscles bending, you stand 2-3 feet in front of a wall, with your back facing the wall.

Now lean towards the wall and squat down. Keep your butt, back and shoulder muscles in contact with the wall.

You can even fold you hands for better balance.

2. Sumo Squats

In this variation, you start the exercise with a very wide stance and your arms in front of you and feet pointed outwards.

Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor.

Get back to the starting position by thrusting your hips.

In another variation you can even hold a box, book or any sturdy object like dumbbell or kettlebell in front of you. Lets call it an advanced bodyweight sumo squat, shall we?

3. One legged squats or pistols

These are an extremely difficult exercise and requires excellent leg strength, core strength and balance training.

You start with a chair support, then move on to one leg squats without support and then if you are serious about leg strength, move on to pistols.

Hold on to a chair for support and extend your one leg forward and hold it in that position throughout the exercise. You can place the other hand on your waist or hips.

From this one legged position, lower yourself until your thighs touch your calf muscles. Immediately explode yourself back in to the original position.

4. Bulgarian Split Squats

In this variation, you start the exercise with one leg bent on to a chair, bed or a bench. The other leg which is straight in the start position is now bent at the hips and knees to begin the movement.

5. Overhead Squats

This is done exactly like regular squats but instead of you hands on the hips or pointed straight in front of you, hold a box, book ad it later stages barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells overhead as if the end position of shoulder press exercise.

This is an entirely different ball game as far as squatting goes.

6. Sissy Squats

Check out How to do sissy squats here. Also check out other Bodyweight Exercises like Push Ups  and Pull Ups here.

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