Bodyweight Squats for a Full Body Workout at Home or the Office

Bodyweight Squats Exercise

Bodyweight Squats are at the core of any bodyweight workout plan. They will torch your legs, but also work other major muscle groups when done correctly:

  • Thighs
  • Hips/Butt
  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Abs
  • Upper and lower back
  • Core Strength

They can be done anywhere, anytime, and you don’t need any type of equipment to do them. And once you master this most basic squat, you can take on some more advanced squats that go to a whole new level with one-legged squats:

  • Pistol squats – free leg forward
  • Lunge squats – free leg to the rear
  • Hindu squats – a variation of the regular movement.

One of the great benefits of this exercise is that when you hit early middle age (35 and over), you have to be very careful with workout injuries. 

These types of squats are very safe, which is important as well. They look easy, but your legs will really burn and your thighs will be very sore the next day after the first time you do them. As you begin to include this bodyweight exercise on a regular basis you will not be as sore, and you’ll start to love them! ❤️

Bodyweight Squats

Table of Contents

Main Takeaways

  • Bodyweight squats can be done anywhere, anytime and do not require equipment to perform, and are a simple exercise.

  • This exercise is a great bodyweight workout that engages multiple muscle groups, and burns a good bit of calories as well.

  • Always warm up before doing resistance training to avoid injuries.

  • You can add some variations to improve difficulty/resistance, like holding a dumbbell.

Muscles Worked

Primary Muscles Worked 💪

  • Quads
  • Hamstrings

Secondary Muscles Worked 💪

  • Glutes
  • Thighs
  • Hips/Butt
  • Upper and lower back
  • Abs
  • Core Strength

Benefits of this Exercise

There are a number of benefits to performing this exercise:

  • Perform them anywhere, anytime
  • Build strength in your legs and core
  • Good cardio workout if you do high reps at a good clip
  • Will improve your balance and mobility (your sense of body control)

Performing Bodyweight Squats

First, before doing any resistance training or bodyweight exercise, always do a proper warm-up:

  • A few minutes of light cardio (jog in place) to warm the muscles
  • A few minutes of dynamic stretching to loosen the muscles

Bodyweight squats are a very simple movement, but they are a technical movement and really should be done in perfect form to receive maximum benefit.

How to Perform Bodyweight Squats

  1. Stand tall with very good posture.  Your feet should be shoulder width with your toes pointed out slightly – about 15 to 30 degrees. Arms at your sides with your palms facing to the rear.
  2. To start the squat, bend slightly forward at the waist keeping your back straight, and at the same time bend your knees so that you lower your butt down and to the rear. Your knees will move out in the direction of your feet.
  3. As you move your body down, your arms will swing out until they are straight in front of you when you are in the down position.
  4. Keeping your back straight, lower your body until your upper legs (thighs) are parallel to the ground. Inhale on the way down.
  5. Push through on your heels to return to the start position.  Exhale on the way up.

They are a very effective bodyweight exercise for building strength, and also getting in a light cardio workout.

Perform as many reps as you are comfortable with. If you are new to this exercise, it will only be 10-15 reps and you will totally fatigue. As you build these muscles and improve your stamina, you can shoot for 100 in quick succession and that is a very good workout. And quite a smoker!

Bodyweight exercises should be a staple of any well-rounded, consistent fitness routine. They can be done anywhere, anytime which is the real value of these exercises. Life is busy! You won’t always have time to perform exercise under perfect gym conditions. That is why having some great bodyweight workouts in your wheelhouse is a huge advantage. (1)

Feeling the Burn

I find that the bodyweight squat gives me a burn in my upper legs like nothing else. This is a fantastic exercise to really tone and harden your legs, and can be done anywhere and at any time.

My legs are not overly strong, so I don’t generally add a weight to the exercise. However, if your legs are one of your body part strengths, you can add a weight or dumbbell to really up the ante with a bodyweight squat. And you can vary the weight based on your strength level.

Toning Your Legs Like Nothing Else

We did a lot of bodyweight squats in the Army, and I have fond memories of this pain and how much I loved it! It was right up there with flutter kicks in terms of the pain department.

But bodyweight squats will get your legs in top shape in four weeks. So if you’re looking for building some lean muscle or toning your leg muscles, this is an exercise that must be in your weekly wheelhouse.

Bodyweight Exercises at Home

And if you are someone who likes to perform bodyweight exercises at home (like me), then you might want to put this one first in your rotation. It’s always best to work the largest muscle groups first in any workout, so you want your leg action to be at the front of a full-body bodyweight workout.

And in terms of form, they are pretty simple to do. The main thing is to maintain good posture throughout, and try to bend your legs until your upper legs are nearly parallel to the floor (just short of parallel). This is good form that will provide the best resistance training to your leg muscles.

Nutrition As Part of Your Wellness Plan

Healthy eating is a key part of any overall wellness plan. If you find that you are on the go and short on time like many of us, you might consider a healthy meal replacement shake to supplement your nutritional balance. We are big fans of LYFE Fuel at A Lean Life. It’s a fast-growing meal shake powder that is not only delicious, but also very healthy. Check our complete LYFE Fuel review to see the ups and downs of this meal replacement shake.

Click for more bodyweight exercises, and check out our full body exercise videos.

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David Williams

A diet and fitness enthusiast, David is an ex-Army Airborne Ranger and Infantry soldier with decades of fitness and wellness experience. A West Point graduate with a degree in engineering, he focuses on technical research related to fitness, nutrition, and wellness. He loves the beach and working out, and spending time with his wife and daughters.

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  1. HuffPost. (2017, December 7). 13 reasons to start bodyweight training today. HuffPost.

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