There are various ways to do air (bodyweight) squats where you do not need any special location or equipment. All the variations described below are essential workout exercises to build your core, glutes and legs. They have slightly different focus on the muscle involved and therefore help to develop balanced torso and the whole lower body.
Wide stance squats (sumo squats)
Sumo squats are designed to work the inside of the thigh. In the classic squat with parallel feet, the main load is on the quadriceps. In addition, the lumbar spine is actively involved due to the obvious forward tilt of the body. The sumo technique allows redistribution of the load from the muscles of the back to legs, which is especially important for girls, whose lower back is usually weaker than in men. The exercise can be performed with a barbell, dumbbells or other weight.
How to properly perform:
- Stand with your feet in a wide stance, toes slightly pointed outward – like a sumo wrestler. Keep your hands together in front of your chest.
- Keeping your back straight, lower your body to the ground, bending your knees.
- As you reach a full squat (legs bent at 90 degrees), hold the position for 1 second before lowering your feet to the floor and slowly push your body back to the starting position.
- For a bonus, stretch your glutes at the top of the movement.
The jump squat or jump squat is a great choice for someone looking to lose weight. The exercise came from athletics and is a power movement used to develop sprinting speed. The movement became very popular after it was noticed that it helps to improve leg muscle relief and burn fat at the same time. It is used in weight loss-oriented training as well as in the development of speed.
Proper technique for performing the exercise
Below we will look at the most correct technique for performing squats with jumping out, which by learning it will enable you to significantly increase the amount of work you do in your workouts.
- Place your feet at shoulder width;
- Feet slightly apart;
- Back is straight;
- Arms crossed on the chest;
- Gaze is directed forward.
If you do the exercise with a barbell, place it on the trapezius muscles and squeeze it tightly with your palms, it should not change its position during the approach.
Perform a deep squat, keeping your back straight and not rounding the sacrum area. Try to touch the biceps of the thigh to the calf muscles – this will be our lower point of amplitude. Do not change the position of the projectile if you perform the exercise with additional weight.
Start an explosive upward movement, trying to straighten your legs as quickly as possible, and make a sharp exhale at the same time. After that try to lift your feet off the ground, due to the given powerful acceleration you will move a few tens of centimeters off the ground. Watch the position of the barbell and dumbbells during the jump. If you are overweight and cannot control the movement in any way, reduce the working weight or perform jumps with your own weight.
When you have already started to descend, breathe in and concentrate on landing on slightly bent legs and continuing downwards straight away, this way you minimise the risk of injuring your knee joints. Land, immediately lower yourself as low as possible, and perform another repetition without lingering after landing or at the low point. The work should be continuous so that the thigh muscles are in constant tension.
One-legged (pistol) squats
The one-leg squat or “pistol squat” is performed to develop the leg and gluteal muscles. It is popular in athletics and gymnastics because it does not require additional weights for an average person, can be performed at the beginning or at the end of a general workout and gives a good load on the legs. But in fitness and bodybuilding it is often done with dumbbells or weights on the chest to increase the load. The movement helps develop muscles symmetrically, improves coordination, balance, mobility and flexibility, and can be included in plans for non-professional athletes. In addition, the “pistol-punch” looks impressive and is suitable for training in any, even the most ill-equipped gym.
How to properly perform this pistol squats
Below we list the essential tips for correct and safe performance of one-legged squats.
- Stand up straight, feet shoulder width apart, turn toes as in the normal crouch;
- Knee should go to the side, not forward;
- Transfer body weight to the foot completely;
- Gently release the non-working leg and pull it forward;
- Tighten your belly, roll your shoulders, and bring your shoulder blades together.
- With the knee, reach toward the middle toe of the working foot;
- Bend leg at knee;
- Lower into a crouch, bringing the pelvis down;
- Ideally, the back should remain straight, but don’t stretch your buttocks backwards in this version of the squat, because this will lead to loss of balance;
- At the bottom point, you must tense your abs so that the pelvis does not ‘peck’;
- Then press the foot to the floor and pull the knee and hip joints out one after the other.
- Standing up, the athlete stabilizes the torso and repeats the exercise again.
- The knee must move in a plane that is conditioned by the attachment of the femur. Simply put, move slightly to the side, rather than always pointing forward;
- You may not straighten the knee fully or insert it when you reach the starting position;
- It is not recommended to take the heel off the platform. If it sort of pulls away on its own, it is worth working on the mobility of the ankle joint.
Shrimp squats (Skater’s squats)
The shrimp squat is considered as a more complicated version of unsupported lunges, with the excepion that you move one hand (or both for advanced athletes) to the back, grabbing the foot with your hand instead of reaching it out forward. This position of the hand puts more weight on the heel and shifts the balance to your disadvantage, making the exercise much more difficult. Ensure alternating legs to balance training of the two sides of your body.
Skater’s squats help you stretch the quadriceps muscle of the thigh and the flexor muscle of the backward leg well. Warm up and stretch your body well beforehand. Perform the exercise slowly, trying to sense the muscle as they contract and relax.