You know that squats are one of the best exercises you can do. Because not only will squats build crazy lower body strength, they’ll get you closer toward your goal of getting the body you’ve always wanted, improve your athleticism, and more.
But do you know how to do a proper squat?
When I used to work as a person trainer in New York City, one of the first things I learned to do was to check the squat form of my future clients. No weights, no bands, no fancy equipment: just 10 basic air squats, no more.
Here’s what I would find:
- The majority of people have never been taught proper squat form.
- Most guys’ (and some females’) hamstrings are so tight they can’t get to parallel or below due to their lack of flexibility.
- Most people have some sort of muscular imbalance that shows up when doing air squats.
- A lot of people get winded after just 10 air squats.
- Almost nobody engages their core or upper body properly or knows what to do with their arms while squatting.
- At least half of all people I’ve seen do air squats put their weight on the toes, causing them to almost topple over.
- The majority of people don’t know how low they’re actually supposed to squat down.
But just because you were never taught how to do a proper air squat in school (I sure wasn’t), doesn’t mean you can’t start learning how to do them now. In fact, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of the 12 Minute Athlete workouts include air squats (and if you’ve ever done CrossFit, they show up there a lot too).
First, here’s why air squats rock:
Why you should embrace air squats
- Air squats are 100% portable. You can literally do them anywhere!
- They’re silent (unless you grunt a lot) and take up pretty much zero space. If you need to be quiet or simply don’t have much space, you can still do air squats.
- They engage your entire body. If you do air squats right, not only do air squats engage your legs and butt muscles, they also work your core, back and shoulders.
- They increase mobility. To be able to squat properly, you need basic hip, ankle, and torso control. Working on your squats will increase mobility and flexibility in each of these joints, and make you less prone to injury.
- They’re the epitome of functional fitness. We squat every day in our normal lives, and adding them to your workouts makes it less likely you’ll get tired and injured in every day activities.
- They’ll still make you crazy strong. Do 20, or 40, or 100, and you’ll feel it, I promise.
How to do a proper air squat
Start doing air squats properly and not only will bulletproof your body, you’ll get more out of your squat.
Here’s a dorky video I made for you on how to do them:
Or, if you prefer written instructions, I have those for you, too:
Stand with your feet hip-width apart with your toes pointed slightly outward. Your arms should be hanging loose by your side. Then engage your core muscles and push out your chest slightly by pulling your shoulder blades towards each other.
Bend your knees and push your butt and your hips out and down behind you as if you were sitting into a chair. Keep your weight on your heels and make sure your knees are over your toes, but not beyond them.
Come down until your thighs are below parallel to the ground, or as far down as you can get them. Make an effort to keep your knees externally rotated (don’t let them fall inward). As you lower down, raise your arms in front of you no higher than parallel to the ground. Make sure to keep your torso upright.
Straighten your legs and squeeze your butt to come back up, lowering your arms back to your side.
Key takeaways on how to do a proper air squat
Ready to squat away? Here are the key points you should remember when attempting an air squat:
- Keep your weight on your heels.
- Keep your torso upright with your shoulders pulled back.
- Your feet should be hip-width apart with your toes slightly pointing outward.
- Your knees should be over (but not beyond) your toes.
- Your butt, back, and core muscles should be engaged the entire time.
- Raise your arms while squatting down and bring them back to your side on the way up, keeping your shoulders back.
- On the downward portion of the squat, aim to go below parallel.
Do them often, and you’ll soon be an air squat master!