How To Do a Proper Air Squat

how to do a proper air squat

You’ve probably heard that squats are one of the best exercises you can do. 

Not only will squats build 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?

As a personal trainer, one of the first things I do is check the bodyweight squat form of my future clients. No weights, no bands, no special equipment: just 10 basic air squats, no more.

Here’s what I often find:

  • The majority of people have never been taught proper squat form.
  • Many people’s 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 lose their balance.
  • 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 growing up (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.

Watch the video or read these written instructions on how to get started:

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.

Step 2: Bend your knees and squat down as if you were sitting into a chair. Keep your weight on your heels and keep your core tight. Your eventual goal will be to touch your glutes to the back of your calves but if you can only get to parallel right now, that’s fine. Make an effort to keep your knees externally rotated (don’t let them collapse inward). As you lower down, you can either raise your arms straight in front of you or keep them bent in front of your chest. Focus on keeping your torso upright and core tight.

Step 3: Straighten your legs and squeeze your butt to come back up, lowering your arms back to your side.

Key Air Squat Takeaways

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.
  • Keep your knees externally rotated.
  • 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!

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43 thoughts on “How To Do a Proper Air Squat”

      • 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,


  1. 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.

    • 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!

    • 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. hi, i just wanna lose my weight nd tone up my butt thighs..inguess squat wl help me wid that. i just wanted to know whether we can squat anytime? morning afternoon or evening.. nd how much squats should i do per day?? or for how long?

  5. hi..
    i wanna lose my weight nd tone up my thighs nd butt. i giess squat wl help me. i just wanted to know whether we can do it at any time of the day nd for how lonh should i squat per day??

  6. I really struggle with air squats. I can’t get very low at all, I’m guessing that it’s flexibility. Will it get better the more that I do? Or are there some exercises that I can do to help improve my squat?

  7. Hi Krista,
    I have sciatica with a slight compression in my lower back.. Is it ok for me to do squats? Would it help with sciatic pain?

  8. I have long legs and find it difficult to keep upright when doing a low squat. If you have long femurs you can widen your stance and pointing the fee outwards helps. Also bringing your knees over the feet a bit more can help. The normal stance does not always work for long legged people.

  9. I am 22/M and have sciatica. My physiotherapist recommended me to do air squats and i just love doing dem as they help me build leg and core strength. I also have knock knees. Will air squats help me with my knock knees?

  10. I had hamstring repair, it popped off the bone in my butt. When I do a squat even though my mind thinks my thighs are parallel, if I look in a mirror the repaired leg is higher than the non repaired leg by more than an inch. Even though the surgery was awhile ago & I do stretches anything I can do ?

  11. I’ve always loved doing squats, as they really help me keep my legs strong and the surplus fat off my hips, stomach, and thighs. However I’ve often struggled with proper form, and doing them wrong in the past has often caused different kinds of knee pain and/or tail bone pain. I’ve had to teach myself how to squat right by watching videos, reading articles (like this one), and usually after practicing them very slowly for even a short time the pain is either gone or greatly reduced. Thanks so much for this informative article and video!!


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