What are the benefits of bodyweight squats?

In this article, we’re going to talk about the bodyweight squats benefits. I think this bodyweight exercise is somewhat underestimated since everyone is always talking about the barbell squat. Some gym-goers believe it’s useless to build serious strength and leg mass. But, you’ll see it isn’t entirely true.

What will we talk about here?

  • Why are they so beneficial? How they help you to build a healthy lower body.
  • Why shouldn’t it be undervalued?
  • About the cons.
  • Variations and other workout tips.
  • Answers to related questions.

Why should you do bodyweight squats?

1. Muscles worked

Many trainees don’t like doing squats because it’s hard. After some reps, we huff and puff. Why? Because it’s the ultimate compound move that works a lot of muscles at once. That’s the beauty of the squat! It stimulates the entire lower body and even the core, which leads to functional strength. That’s why it must be in every strength training. No matter if we like it or not. It builds a foundation for the body.

2. Natural movement for the muscles and joints

One of the main benefits of bodyweight training is that the movements are natural to the muscles, tendons, and joints. They’re movements that we do in everyday life. Unlike machines that put our legs in fake states or just target one particular leg muscle.

Physiologically the body doesn’t work like that. To perform a motion, multiply muscles are engaged. There are primary ones, in this case, the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, but a lot of other stabilizer muscles are activated as well.

Targeting a particular muscle may make it big and looks good, but the real power comes from the coordination.

Also, compared to the barbell squat, there is no pressure on the shoulders and neck, and the risk of injury is much lower.

3. Improved coordination, balance and posture

As we mentioned before, the bodyweight squat is a compound exercise. This way, many muscle groups are engaged and coordinated to fulfill the motion. Coordination is the key to power.

When we perform the squat, we have to avoid falling backward, forward, and even to sides. To prevent that, a lot of stabilizers are activated, among them the entire core. Improved balance helps to perform better in any physical activity and to avoid injuries.

Last but not least, squats are great exercises to keep our posture healthy since they build core strength and balance.

deep squat

4. Improved athletic performance

Unfortunately, we live in an era when everybody focuses on building the perfect upper body and abs. But, logically, legs are the basement of the body. What is worth a house with a weak pedestal?

If you have strong legs, it affects all types of physical activities, no matter if you do strength or cardio training or do your work. For example, squats improve jumping, running, sprinting, acceleration everything that requires the lower body.

5. Increase Core Strength

The core isn’t to be confused with the abs. The core surrounds the midsection like a belt while the abs are just a muscle on the front of the abdominal wall. (We compared the core and abs here.)

It’s the connection between the lower and upper body. It has a role in coordination. This way, when we do physical activities, a strong core plays an important role.

It’s also responsible for proper posture. People having developed core muscles are less like to have curved back. A weak posture also leads to lower back pain, spine, and back injuries.

6. Squats burns calories more than other exercises

As we saw, the bodyweight squats engage a lot of muscle groups at once. The more fibers are working, the more energy and oxygen is required. While squats are mostly strength training exercises, they burn calories as well. Hence, they support weight loss.

It also helps to lose weight indirectly. Squats build mass, and the more amount of muscle mass we have, the higher our metabolism is. That means the body burns more calories even when we rest.

7. Lots of squat variations

Bodyweight exercises are very versatile. We can modify them to our fitness level or target a particular muscle group better. And, the same is right for squats. We can change the stance, increase or decrease the range of motion, switch to single-leg variations, etc. For example, there are chair squat variations.

The idea of progressive calisthenics is based on the versatility of the bodyweight exercises. We start with moves that we can perform comfortably, and we increase the repetitions, then we switch to bit more advanced practice for more resistance, and so on. That is how you can get from half squats to pistol squats when we use just one of our legs.

Watch the video to learn some great variations.

8. Improved hip mobility

The hip is a complex joint that is less mobile than, for example, the shoulder joints, but its limited mobility leads to decreased sports performance or injuries. Since the hips are in the “middle” of the body, they are involved in almost every moment we make.

A loose hip allows us to rotate our torso and lower body or to lean forward or backward safely and with full range. This way, we can perform the moves more correctly, improve the effectiveness of them, and avoid injuries.

9. Do it anywhere

You don’t need equipment to do squats. Do it indoor or outdoor, or even in a small apartment. Whenever and wherever you want.


How many bodyweight squats should I do?

The number of reps depends on your level of fitness, weight, goals, etc. If you can do 3×40 reps comfortably, it’s better to switch to a more advanced version. Repetitions over 40-50 develop muscle endurance. By switching to harder squats, you can focus on leg strength development.

Is it OK to do squats every day?

Bodyweight training puts less stress on muscles, tendons, and joints so that you may do squats every day. But, I believe there’s no need, 2-4 times a week is enough. This way, the tissues have time to recover, and you can focus on other muscle groups and do other types of exercises for your legs to target from different angles.

Do bodyweight squats build muscle mass?

That depends on various factors, from your weight to your genes. If you only do the same type, set, and repetitions of all the time, sooner or later, your thighs stop growing. The muscles gain if they frequently get a new impact for which they have to adopt. So, time to time switch to harder squat variations. With that, you can build mass with only bodyweight leg training.  But, the results are limited. To grow big legs, you should do weighted squats.

How to perform a squat correctly?

To enjoy all the benefits of squatting proper form is crucial. There is a debate on going down or not, but to get the full range of motion going deep is essential. That is a full squat. Watch the video below to learn the proper form from the calisthenics master Al Kavadlo.

To conclude

I hope I could convince you to do bodyweight squats, which is an excellent exercise for not just power, but a healthy body. It should be in every home workout. Do you need advice? Ask within the comment section below.

Written by Imre

Imre has been working out for over 20 years. He likes all sorts of strength training and boxing. Since he's a busy father he works out only at home.