Bodyweight Squat

What is the bodyweight squat?

The bodyweight squat is a squat performed as a simple bodyweight exercise without additional weight. This is a great way to work out the lower body when you have little space and no dumbbells or barbells.

This kind of squat is simple to perform, by bending the knees to squat down until a tension is felt in the thighs. However, it is important to use the right technique to avoid injury and get the most benefit from the exercise.

The bodyweight squat can also be used as a beginner’s squat in order to perfect technique and increase strength before moving on to perform squats with weights.

bodyweight squat

What muscles does the bodyweight squat use?

The bodyweight squat works the thighs (quads, hamstrings, adductors), buttocks (glutes), calves (gastrocnemius) and hip flexors.

It also works out the lower back (erector spinae). The squat is one of the very best exercises for the whole of the lower body.

Performing the bodyweight squat

The bodyweight squat is performed by standing with feet a little wider than shoulder width and with toes pointed slightly outwards.

To begin the decent, move the hips backwards as you lower, making sure the knees do not bend further forward than the toes. To ensure this, keep the hips back and high as you lower down.


Try to squat until about 90 degrees and no lower. To move lower during the bodyweight squat causes more strain on the knees and increases the risk of injury.

When you start to ascend again, keep the knees behind the toes at all times. Make sure to keep the hips back and your weight pushing through the heels and arch of the foot, not the toes.

Bodyweight squat technique

Throughout the movement of the exercise, keep the abs engaged and spine neutral. Keep your eyes forward. It can be helpful to watch yourself in a mirror until you are certain of your form and that your knees are not moving too far forward during the exercise.


Always be sure to push your bottom out when performing the squat, as this helps to keep your weight over the heels and not your toes, helping to prevent strain on the knees.

Squat jumps

There are a few variations on the bodyweight squat which can help to work different muscles and add another layer of interest and difficulty to the exercise.

A popular variation on the squat are jumping squats or squat jumps. These turn the initial squat exercise into a powerful upward jump.

This exercise works your thighs in a pushing motion to propel your body upward, while also adding a stronger cardio element to the workout.

squat jumps - jumping bodyweight squat

The bodyweight squat is a fantastic lower body exercise. Combine squats with lunges to create a strong leg workout using only your own body weight.

Check out our barbell squat page for more information on performing the squat using free weights. There are also various other types of squat that are useful for incorporating into your routine.

Another great bodyweight exercise for legs is the lunge, while calves benefits from the standing calf raise and you can work out your glutes using the glute kickback as a useful bodyweight exercise.

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