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What are Air Squats and Should You Do Them?

by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN

Do you want an exercise that you can do anywhere you want that can help build your legs and glutes (no weights needed)? Look no further than air squats! Granted, you’re not going to build massive legs or glutes by air squats alone, but if you want a little extra work to target your lower body, air squats are a great exercise to do when you first wake up in the morning, in your office to add some movement to your sedentary desk job, or anytime you want.

This bodyweight exercise is the key to hitting your legs and glutes without any extra equipment, zero setup time, and no planning needed to be put in place to get ready for the movement.

Interestingly enough, air squats are a staple in CrossFit and high-intensity workouts, as they are a simple yet effective way to boost your fitness game.

Don’t let the name fool you — air squats are anything but light! By using your own body weight, you’ll still be working those muscles hard. And the best part? You can do them anywhere, so you have no excuse not to hit your legs throughout the week.

A strong lower body is just as important for athletes as it is for the typical active individual. By focusing on working your lower body and strengthening it, you can reduce the risk of any injuries and make the strides in your gait more powerful.

In this article, we will dive deeper into what air squats are, how to do them, and their benefits.

What Are Air Squats?

Air squats are a simple yet highly effective exercise that involves using just your body weight to work your legs, core, and glutes. They’re a popular staple in fitness routines, especially for those looking to tone their lower body and improve their overall strength.

Air squats are often associated with high-intensity workouts like CrossFit, and they’re a great way to target your glutes and thighs, helping to tone and strengthen these important muscle groups.

That said, if you’re new to weight training, air squats can be extremely challenging, and it’s important to build a solid foundation before jumping into it.

It should also be noted that using air squats to warm up your lower body before a leg day can also be implemented into your program. This helps the lower body warm up and push blood into the legs and glutes to prepare for a heavy leg day.

The Benefits of Air Squats

Air squats are an excellent way to start off your leg day. It is a low-impact exercise when it comes to joint stress, and it can enhance power in the lower body. Here are some of the common benefits of implementing air squats into your routine.

1.   A great introduction to weighted squats for beginners

Air squats are a great exercise to improve your squatting technique and form. Not only can they help you correct any form issues you may have, but they can also be done without the use of weights, allowing you to perfect your form before adding weight to your routine.

One of the most common mistakes people make when performing squats is rounding the lower back. This can cause strain and injury to your lower back muscles and even your spine. Another mistake is dropping your shoulders forward, which can cause unnecessary tension and discomfort. Lastly, not going low enough can also hinder your progress and not give you the desired results.

By performing air squats, you can train your body to maintain proper form and technique, such as keeping your lower back in its natural curvature and contracting your shoulder blades together to push out your chest. You can also practice going lower until your hips are lower than your knees, which is the optimal depth for squats.

2.   Strengthen lower body

Air squats are an excellent way to improve lower body strength. By using just your own body weight, air squats can help you tone and strengthen your leg muscles, particularly your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

One of the great things about air squats is that they are easy to do and require no additional equipment, making them a perfect addition to any at-home workout routine. When done correctly, air squats can help you build muscle and improve your overall lower body strength.

3.   Improve core strength

Besides strengthening the lower body, air squats also target your core muscles, particularly the obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and erector spinae. When you engage your muscles, it will keep your spine aligned and stop your lower back from forming an arch. In addition to that, it will help you build stability and balance.

A study conducted in 2022 has demonstrated that a stronger core can initiate or reinforce the muscular strength phenomenon across various sports and games. As such, incorporating exercises that enhance core strength, such as air squats, can be beneficial for improving functional strength.

How To Do Air Squats?

Using the proper form when doing air squats is essential to get the most benefit and avoid injuries. Before starting, it’s a good idea to warm up, even if you’re only doing air squats.

Remember these tips when doing air squats:

  • Keep your knees behind your toes.
  • Avoid rounding your back.
  • Only your lower body should be moving, so don’t drop your shoulders forward.
  • Look straight ahead to keep your chest lifted.
  • If you feel knee pain, you may be going too low or not using the proper form.
  • Back pain may occur if you lean your chest forward too much.

It’s not a good idea to do air squats every day. Rest at least one day after doing air squats to give your muscles time to recover and repair.

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