Air Squats – Technique, Benefits, And Tips

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Healthy man doing air squats at home

How to do | Muscles worked | who should/should not | Add to routine | Safety tips | Benefits | Variations

Air squats are a foundational exercise form. These squats work the body by using fundamental, functional movements that have always been part of our daily lives. 

However, air squats are more than an unintentionally performed exercise. They are a CrossFit essential and an important part of HIIT squat workouts.

How to do air squats?

Air squats require no additional equipment. They use only your body weight to  tone up your lower body. Hence, they are also known as bodyweight squats. Here is how you can perform the air squat properly:

  1. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed slightly outward.
  2. Ensure your weight is in your heels and keep your chest up.
  3. Let your hands hang loose in a neutral position.
  4. Position yourself like you’re going to sit in a chair while engaging your core. Keep your knees behind your toes and your hips and shoulders square.
  5. Let your hips descend lower than your knees.
  6. As you lower yourself, extend your hands forward until they are in front of your chest.
  7. Press through your heels, and extend your hips and knees to return to the starting position.

Muscles worked in air squats

The air squat is a compound exercise that works multiple lower body muscles simultaneously. Here is a detailed and split-up understanding of the muscles worked while performing air squats:

Primary muscles worked:

Quadsmusculus quadriceps femoris
Buttock musclegluteus maximus muscle
Posterior thigh muscles/hamstringssemimembranosus, Biceps femoris, Musculus semitendinosus

Secondary muscles activated:

Back extensormusculus erector spinae
Obliquesfrontal and lateral abdominal muscles
Absrectus abdomini

Who should and should not do air squats?

Any person can perform air squats irrespective of their fitness levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced). However, here’s a list of specific categories of people that should or should not perform air squats:

Who should do air squats?

  1. Air squats are a must-have for beginners. It allows you to learn the proper form to build a solid foundation to advance to weighted squats like goblet squats.
  2. Although air squats are beginner-friendly, people on an intermediate or advanced level can use them as a part of their warm-up.
  3. As air squats are primarily done in leg workout routines. Anyone interested in building their lower body strength, mobility, and overall endurance can do this exercise.

Who should not do air squats?

  1. Anyone with a previous medical history of injuries should not perform this exercise without consulting their fitness instructor or health care provider.
  2. People experiencing back pain or knee pain should not perform any kind of squats without the approval of their healthcare provider.
  3. Fitness enthusiasts aiming to bulk up should not be doing air squats alone. However, the exercise can always be part of an elaborate routine.

Adding it to your routine

Strategically adding this exercise to your routine is extremely important. It allows your body to exert energy more systematically. Here’s how you can add air squats into your routine:

Based on your fitness level

Beginner level: 4-5 sets of 5-8 reps, 2-3 times a week.

Intermediate/Advanced level: 5-6 sets of 10-15 reps, 3 times a week.

Incorporating the air squats into your circuit

If you are a beginner planning to start a regular workout routine, try this circuit to incorporate air squats into your fitness regimen:

Beginner level exercisesSets and Reps
Jumping jacks(as a warm-up)2 sets of 20 reps 
Pushups2 sets of 10 reps
Air squats3 sets of 5 reps
Walking lunges3 sets of 5 reps
Child pose (cool down)1-2 minute

People with intermediate to advanced levels of fitness, who need a more challenging workout can try this sample workout plan:

Intermediate/Advanced level exercisesSets and Reps
Air squats (as a warm-up)5 sets of 12 reps
Russian twist with weights 2-3 sets of 10 reps
Push-ups3-4 sets of 10-12 reps
Kettlebell swings 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps
Bench dips3 sets of 10 reps
Child pose and cat-cow pose (cool down)1-2 minute

Note: You may increase the number of reps, sets, or exercises to include as per your personal requirement. Do not push yourself beyond your endurance levels, as it may cause injury.

If you are goal-oriented and want a challenge, here’s a 30-day squat challenge by coachmag [1]Coach Mag: Try The 30-Day Squat Challenge To Build Functional Muscle that incorporates the air squat.

Safety tips

Focusing on the proper squat form is absolutely essential when performing squats. Nonetheless, ignoring the other safety precautions is also dangerous and may lead to injury.

Given below are some safety tips for you to follow:

Warm-up

Warm up your muscles before squatting to prevent injuries. Include dynamic stretching [2]Hospital for Special Surgery: Static vs. Dynamic Stretching: What Are They and Which Should You Do? or light cardio, such as jogging in place or jumping jacks.

Position your feet properly

Place your feet hip-width apart to maintain a proper balance. Positioning your feet too wide or too narrow can cause injuries. Your stance should shift your weight to the heels.

Ensure correct knee position

Keep your knees in line with your toes to avoid instability and injury.

Drive up through your heels

Do not drive up through your toes or butt, as that may add unnecessary strain to your lower back and shin bones.

Maintain correct posture

Engaging your core muscles and keeping your chest lifted and tall will help you maintain a good balance and posture.

Moreover, if you do not maintain a proper air squat form, your lower back will start to round. That can lead to injuries.

Complete the range of motion

Ensure that you dip your hips beyond your knees. If not, you may not reap the full benefits of the exercise.

Benefits of air squats

Including an air squat workout in your workout routine offer a host of benefits, including:

  1. Performing these squats prevents you from the risk of injury as they are bodyweight squats, and do not use any external weight.
  2. Air squats are frequently a part of high-intensity workouts. Thus performing squats can build your endurance [3]National Library of Medicine: The Effect of Two Different Concurrent Training Programs on Strength and Power Gains in Highly-Trained Individuals.
  3. The range of motion of air squats can help improve your hip and knee mobility.
  4. Air squats also help improve your balance and coordination as you have to control your body throughout the entire movement.
  5. Doing a set or two of air squats can get your blood pumping. Thus, this helps improve your heart health [4]Johns Hopkins Medicine: 3 Kinds of Exercise That Boost Heart Health and reduces your risk of heart disease.
  6. Air squats are an anaerobic exercise [5]Libre Texts Medicine: 10.3: Anaerobic Exercise that can help increase your metabolism, burn fat [6]Piedmont: The benefits of anaerobic exercise and promote weight loss.

Variations to Try

To move on to more challenging workout routines, you may include the below-given variations: 

Jump squats

While performing jump squats, start in the same position as a basic air squat. Then jump explosively into the air, landing softly back into the squat position. This variation is a great way to add some cardio to your routine and get your heart pumping.

Pistol squats

To perform pistol squats, start in a standing position with one leg extended out in front of you and the other leg bent with the foot placed flat on the floor. Keeping your chest up and core engaged, lower yourself down into a squat past the parallel.

Return to the starting position and repeat on the other leg. This variation of the air squat form is a bit challenging, as you are working with one leg only, but the results are definitely worth the effort.

Side-to-side squats

This variation of the air squat is a great way to improve your balance and coordination. 

To do this squat variation, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Then, squat down to one side and rise to the start position. Move a little bit to the other side before you get into the next squat. Repeat this movement on the other side.

Deep knee bends

Deep knee bends have the same starting position as a basic air squat. However, when you lower yourself into the squat position, bring your hips all the way down to the heels while naturally lifting your heels.

Allow all the body weight onto your toes. Return to the start position by pushing through your toes and then making your heels flat.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, air squats are an exercise that builds a solid strength foundation for your legs. Follow the steps mentioned above and try the variations keeping the safety tips in mind, to make your leg day workouts worth it.

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