Bodyweight (Air) squats | How to do properly & Benefits

The air squat is the crossfit name for the classic weightless or bodyweight squat. This exercise is used for endurance training, fat burning and strengthening the thigh and buttock muscles and offers significant benefits for your overall physical condition. Squats without barbells, dumbbells or any other weight are suitable for athletes of any level and can be performed both in the gym and at home. We explain proper body form and technique as well as variations in proggression and typical mistakes.

Benefits of air squats

In addition to the obvious benefits of exercising the muscles of the lower body, squats help develop knee and hip joints, develop balance, and identify problems of disproportionate development of the right and left halves of the torso.

Regular performance of squats without weight gives the following results:

  • Leg and gluteal muscles get toned: quadriceps, thigh biceps, big gluteal muscles.
  • Strengthens the joint and ligament apparatus, improves flexibility. This, in turn, serves as a prevention of injury when performing heavier types of squats.
  • Trains the cardiovascular system. As a rule, the exercise is performed at a pace slightly above average. As a consequence, the endurance increases.
  • Coordination of movement and balance improves. At the first stage, you can use your hands to increase stability. Then it will be unnecessary.
  • You practice the technique of the basic movement, in particular the correct position of the knees and lower back, with minimal risk to yourself. When performing exercises with weights, mistakes in technique are fraught with serious injuries.
  • An undoubted advantage is also the fact that you can perform the exercise anywhere and anytime – both in the gym and at home. The main thing is not to forget the importance of warming up.

Before squatting you should stretch the leg muscles, arms and hip joints. Many athletes like to squat after running or working on an elliptical trainer. After cardio, the muscles are sufficiently warmed up, and respond perfectly to the load.

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What muscles work

The main ones:

  • Glutes – the entire mass;
  • Quadriceps and biceps of the thighs;
  • Cambal muscles;
  • Smaller muscles of the feet.


  • Abs, back muscles;
  • Calf muscles

Proper Leg and Body Positioning

When performing squats, it is important to control a few key points:

  1. Throughout the entire exercise, the feet should be pressed firmly to the floor. It is not necessary to stand on your toes. This will allow you to properly distribute your body weight and thus improve your balance.
  2. In squats, the knees move strictly in the plane of the feet. That is, if your feet are parallel, your knees are pointed strictly forward throughout the entire movement. If you have your toes apart, your knees are also apart.
  3. The spine is fixed in one position. The gaze is directed forward, not downward, and the back is straight with a natural bend in the lower back. This position does not change until the exercise is completed. The back and lower back must not be rounded. In squats without a barbell it is much easier to work out this point than with a barbell.
  4. The arms are the most important part of your balance. You can spread them out to the sides or keep them in front of you.

Technique of execution

  • Place your feet as you would be comfortable squatting on a low chair. For most people, this is plus minus the width of the pelvis;
  • Extend your legs at the knee and hip joints;
  • Straighten your back;
  • Tense your abs and pull them inward so that your back remains stable throughout the movement;
  • Push your knees to the sides and lower your pelvis down so that the hip joint is below the plane passing through the center of the knee joint;
  • Lower yourself into the saddle;
  • At the bottom point, tense your glutes and begin to stand up;
  • Straighten your legs completely at the knee and hip joints;
  • Repeat as many times as necessary.
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Variation: you can perform the exercise by pulling the pelvis back if you want to emphasize the glutes, in this case the weight is shifted to the heels. This option is not recommended if you have severe lumbar lordosis and pelvic flexion.

Common Mistakes

Despite the fact that air squats are a basic exercise and are part of the school physical education program, not all athletes know how to do them correctly. Pay attention to the following common mistakes:

  • Improper foot placement (uncomfortable, too narrow or, conversely, too wide).
  • Knees and feet look in different directions.
  • Head down, eyes directed to the floor.
  • Arms hang uncontrollably instead of helping to maintain balance.
  • Lack of natural lumbar flexion.
  • Insufficient depth of squat (if you do squats without barbell without reaching the parallel with the floor, then the muscles do not get a sufficient load and you train in vain).
  • Skipping the warm-up. Even if you’re exercising at home, you shouldn’t skip the pre-training. A two-minute warm-up will warm up your muscles and avoid injury.
  • Properly performed squats are an effective movement that strengthens the entire lower body. It will help you tone your muscles, develop your sense of balance, and prepare you for more exertion. You can work out at home or in the gym, the main secret to success is the regularity of your exercises.

Frequent Questions

What results can you expect from doing squats? We answer some frequently asked questions below.

How many calories are burned in weightless squats?

The movement is often used as a “weight loss exercise,” so the question is common. The actual amount of energy expended varies from 4 to 6 kcal per minute, but different sources indicate almost 60 kcal per series. This is an individual figure that depends on the athlete’s weight, training history, endurance, and speed of movement.

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Many claim that up to 400-600 kcal can be “eliminated” in an hour of continuous squatting, but the reality is that even a professional lifter will not be able to squat in a quality amplitude for an hour. It is worth noting that it is better to avoid monotony in weight loss training. It is better to alternate squats with other exercises with body weight, as well as with regular cardio – running, burpees, jumps.

Do air squats grow muscles?

Up to a point, muscles will increase even though squats are a simple exercise. Then, when hypertrophy requires a greater intensity of contractions, weight will need to be added. Most people are advised to switch first to the dumbbell front squat, then to master the Zercher squat, the front squat, and finally, the classic barbell version.

Can I do squats without weights to tighten my butt?
Any exercise with your own weight tones your muscles. If by “tighten” you mean that, then yes. But usually girls need hypertrophy training to get rid of flabby muscles. In this context, “tightening the butt” with squats alone without weights will not work.

Do squats without weights work out the legs?

Muscles get a load, and therefore – will be strengthened. Of course, with these exercises it’s difficult to become a mass monster and to build huge quadriceps. But it’s quite possible to get toned muscles and a slight relief.

Are weightless squats enough to make your legs look athletic? It all depends on what exactly you mean by this concept. If you need relief, then it’s enough. If a huge mass, you still have to do squats with weights.

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