Bodyweight Squat Exercise Guide

Reviewed by Valerie Zeller Valerie Zeller Printable version

Squats are designed to build strength using gravity as resistance. This exercise engages your quads, glutes and core, particularly building strength in the legs. Squats can be made more difficult by performing them with weights, either held close to the chest, by your sides or resting on your shoulders or back.

Bodyweight Squat

How to do Bodyweight Squat


Stand with weapons stretched forward.


Start with your feet shoulder width apart on a flat level surface. This will be your starting position. Begin the movement by sitting your hips back, bending your knees and push them out to the sides a little, whilst keeping you head looking forwards at eye height and your chest up. Your heels should stay in contact with the floor and your weight should be centered, mid-foot. Continue down until your hips are level with your knees and your thighs are parallel (or as low to this as your mobility will allow). At the same time, raise your arms out straight in front of you to shoulder height. This helps offset the weight of your hips sitting back behind you. This is the bottom of the squat, and quickly reverse the motion until you return to the starting position. As you squat, keep your head and chest up and push your knees out.


  • When you grow more familiar with the squat type, practice the squats with a weight such as a dumbbell, kettlebell or medicine ring.

  • When you're only practicing the squat form, reduce the breadth in the exercise. When you can't do repetitive squats, consider performing a squat hold âĢĶ drop as far as you can and then keep it for as long as you can.


  • Keep head facing forward, back straight, chest high, and feet flat on surface; equal distribution of weight through forefoot and heel. Knees should point same direction as feet throughout movement. Arms positioned forward allow torso to be positioned more upright.

  • Avoid letting knees slide past toes when descending.

Exercise Benefits

  • Leg Strength

  • Glute Strength

  • Core Strength

Illustrated Guide

Learn how to do bodyweight squat from this step-by-step illustrations:

Squat 1
Squat 2

Muscles Worked

The muscles used for bodyweight squat may change slightly based on the your trained range of motion and technique, but in the most general case, the muscles used for bodyweight squat are:

Primary Muscles

  • Calves
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes
  • Spinal Erectors

Synergyst Muscles

  • Soleus
  • Hip Adductors

Frequently Asked Questions

What muscles does Bodyweight Squat work?
Bodyweight Squat works calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, spinal erectors.
What is Bodyweight Squat good for?
Bodyweight Squat is beneficial for conditioning and to strengthen. It works the best for buttocks, hips, legs, lower back, lower body, lower legs and upper legs, as it works calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, spinal erectors. Bodyweight Squat is a great bodyweight exercise for men, men over 50, women and women over 50.
Is Bodyweight Squat a good exercise?
Bodyweight Squat is a popular bodyweight exercise for calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, spinal erectors.

Training, Progressions and Regressions

Interested in how to improve your Bodyweight Squat faster?

Bodyweight Squat Training and Progressions

Standards and Averages

Wonder how do others perform in Bodyweight Squat and how should you?

Bodyweight Squat Standards and Averages


Wonder how to work the same muscles with other exercises?

Bodyweight Squat Alternatives


Wonder how to make Bodyweight Squat either easier or more challenging?

Bodyweight Squat Variations

Discover more


Type(s) Bodyweight, Calisthenic, Strength, Compound
Muscles Worked Gastrocnemius, Biceps Femoris, Quadriceps, Gluteus, Erector Spinae, Soleus, Hip Abductors
Difficulty Level(s) Basic, Easy, Simple
Equipment No Equipment
Location At Gym, At Home, Outdoor

Muscles Worked

Target muscle(s) Calves, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Glutes, Spinal Erectors
Synergyst muscle(s) Soleus, Hip Adductors

Related exercises

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