How to Do a Squat

Squats are an extremely popular bodyweight exercise that requires no equipment to perform and can be modified to suit any fitness level. This is a compound exercise that targets multiple joints and muscle groups including the glutes, hip flexors and quadriceps. Also, the abdominals, hamstrings and calves get activated.

Performing squats on a regular basis with help with overall lower body mobility as well as aiding in everyday activities such as sitting and standing, and picking up objects off of low shelves.

How To

  • To perform a standard squat, start with your feet planted firmly on the floor about hip to shoulder width apart depending on personal comfort.  Feet should be pointed out just slightly. Hands can be placed on the hips or clasped in front of your body.
  • Engage your core and imagine driving the hips back as you bend through the knee until the thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep the chest up and gaze forward throughout the entire movement. Make sure that your heels do not come off the floor at the bottom of the movement.
  • To complete the movement, squeeze the glutes and press up through your feet as you straighten the knees and return back to standing.


For the average fitness enthusiast, a good number to aim for is one to three sets of 10 – 15 repetitions. If you are adding weights, you may want to reduce the number of sets. As always, form is more important than number of sets or repetitions.


Sumo squat: This a wide-legged stance that sees the feet planted slightly wider than shoulder width apart with the feet turned out. Sumo squats work to target your inner thighs, which can be difficult to isolate. Squeeze the glutes and thighs as you press up to standing and you will really feel this variation.

Weighted: If you’re feeling ready to increase the difficulty, consider picking up a set of dumbbells or a kettlebell. Increase your weight load slowly and make sure to pay extra attention to your form. Kettlebells will be held in front but close to your body, while dumbbells can be held with hands hanging at your sides or held up at your shoulders.

One-legged: Squatting on one leg, sometimes referred to as a pistol squat, is considered an advanced move and should be practiced carefully. When trying these out for the first time, consider using a chair or bench as a support until you are more confident.

See also the back squat.

Cautionary Notes

Make sure to keep the knees in line with the toes; you do not want your knees to turn inward toward each other as you lower your body. You’ll also want to make sure that the knees do not slide forward past the end of your feet. Both of these issues can be very hard on the knee joint. Thinking about pushing the knees outward, and sending the hips back as you sink down, can help to keep the knee in the correct place.

Make sure to keep the upper back straight, with just a natural arch in the lower back. Make sure not to overarch the back, or round the shoulder. Engaging the abdominals and keeping the eyes forward can help with this.

More Squat Related Resources

How To Do a Basic Squat – Get Healthy U
Squats 101: How to Do Squats and Which Muscles They Activate
Daily Burn – A Better Fit
How To Do A Squat | SELF
The 30-Day Squat Challenge That Will Totally Transform Your Butt

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