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How To Do a Proper Air Squat

air-squats

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

Yes, there’s no doubt that barbell squats, Sandbag squats or Kettlebell squats are awesome. But air squats are too, for these reasons and more:

  • 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:

Step 1:

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.

how to do air squats

Step 2:

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.

air-squats2

Step 3:

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.

air-squats

Step 4:

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!

 


25 Responses to How To Do a Proper Air Squat

  1. Muhammad NurAriff September 10, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    will this exercise will help to burn waist,upper hand and chest fat?guide me…i want to do this exercise regular also need to know the other exercise taht can help burn chest,upper band and waist+belly fat…if you really want to help me…please do guide me by email…hope to hear soon from u

  2. Manar June 23, 2014 at 7:55 am #

    Hi,

    thanks alot for this article.
    how much can we do squat : per day/ week

    thank you

  3. Christina February 25, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

    Question, I have fat knees, and alot of loose skin on my inner tighs do to a large (185lb) weight loss, will this help tone them up a bit. the knees I think bother me more then my tighs.. Thanks

  4. Rakesh February 21, 2014 at 5:24 am #

    Hi Krista,

    I am 6.2 Feet tall, i suffer from knee pain, Does doing squats hep reduce my knee pain ?

    • Krista Stryker February 23, 2014 at 9:18 am #

      Squats and lunges can help strengthen the muscles around your knees which can help the pain – however, you might want to get it checked out by a physical therapist since I don’t know the specifics of your pain and whether there’s anything else going on.

  5. jay December 19, 2013 at 8:55 am #

    Krista, I’m 275 pounds and squats are so hard for me to do. I can get low but have a crazy amount of difficulty getting back up. What can I do? and yes I am losing weight and assuming the lighter I get the easier it will become.

    • Krista Stryker December 20, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

      Hey Jay,

      Try doing half squats – go down around half way instead of all the way down so that you can still get back up. Do these enough and you’ll eventually build up the strength to get past that sticking point on the way up!

      Another option is to do squat negatives – try and go down slowly with control, then use a chair or something sturdy to grab onto to help you get back up. Both should help!

  6. Jordan October 25, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

    squats have been my favorite exercise as long as i can remember! thank you for this post!!

  7. Chirag October 12, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    Hi.. my legs are very skinny. I dont wear shorts cuz of this reason. Will i be able to build my leg muscles through squats ? Plz tell me…

  8. Gregg October 5, 2013 at 12:29 am #

    I just did 100 air squats non stop should I take protein.

    • Krista Stryker October 5, 2013 at 8:53 am #

      You’ll be fine without it :)

      Unless you’re hungry, of course, then go for it!

  9. Rich August 7, 2013 at 4:48 am #

    Air squats are great. I’ve noticed a big difference in my legs and butt since I’ve started doing them.

    • Krista Stryker August 7, 2013 at 8:11 am #

      That’s fantastic Rich!

      • Brandy June 23, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

        Squats help make your butt lift right? They help it get bigger?

      • Ilya August 30, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

        Krista,

        Thanks for this video. A couple of questions:
        1. Why do you have to raise your straight hands every time you squat down? You seem to do it automatically and not because you cannot maintain your balance
        2. Why don’t you try to keep you back not only straight but perpendicular to the ground? Vertical back position is much better for maintaining body structure don’t you think?
        3. What do you think re breathing technique and the speed of those squats?

        Many thanks,

        Ilya

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