Squat Calisthenics- From Very Easy to Advanced

The squat is one of the best, if not the best exercise for the whole body. Many athletes, both professional and amateur, swear by it and use it regularly in their training. But what makes the squat so special and what are its benefits? The squat is so effective mainly because it can target several muscle groups at once. Whether it’s the legs, buttocks or back – all muscles have to help in the execution. This makes the squat ideal for strength and endurance training at the same time. It not only helps to burn fat and build muscle, but also strengthens our joints and promotes coordination.

Älterer Mann in tiefer Kniebeuge, das ist eine Ruheposition und keine aktive Position
Older man in deep squat, this is a resting position and not an active position

A squat is a common movement performed in everyday life. Especially in Eastern countries, many people still sit in a knee-bending position. Unfortunately, we in the western world have trained ourselves out of this behaviour pattern and many of us have problems even at a young age to remain in a deep knee bend for a longer period of time. Anthropologically, the squat is also a rather passive position because we rest, play, eat and entertain ourselves in it. We don’t normally expend much energy in this form of squat, also called deepsquat in English.

Many people spread the information that the deeper the squat the better, but this is not true. Especially if we have loaded on extra weight in the form of a barbell or kettlebell. From a physiological point of view, we humans generate the most power at a bending angle of 45° or less. You will never see a deep squat in either the high jump or the long jump, the two direct application sports of jumping ability, stretch reflex and explosiveness, because we humans cannot generate the most power in this position. Contrary to the fitness norm of squatting as deep as you can, we wouldn’t recommend squatting below 90°, on the contrary rather only to about 45°. The risk of injury from deep squatting increases enormously and the benefit I hope to gain from it is marginal if I perform the other workout optimally, if it makes any difference at all. Many individuals do not have the ability to go into the deep squat without compensation and often the ankles, knees or lower back give way and a variety of injuries occur.

  • So learn, the Deep Squat is a resting position for humans, not an active position.
  • The Highsquat is an active position and should be trained accordingly.
So if you’re not a weightlifter or powerlifter, you don’t have to do a deep squat. In this case, we are talking about an active loaded squat and not a passive unloaded squat. The deep squat in itself is a positive posture for us as long as we can perform it without compensation. In the video you will see an incredible jump from a standing position, and you will see that we have a high hip flexion angle but a very low knee flexion angle. MAXIMUM human performance does not happen in deep squat.


Getting started

Every beginning is hard, they say. Well, that’s only partly true. We’ve come up with a progression for your knee flexion training that makes it possible for any fitness level to get started. It is important to pay attention to a few parameters here, which must also be applied to the more difficult exercises.

Important rules

Feet neutral: Feet neutral means that our second toe points straight forward. This applies to the entire course of the exercise.

Feet should not collapse: Keep the feet neutral and the ankles upright, if your foot collapses then the knee usually follows and this can lead to unsightly injuries and wear and tear. We therefore also recommend always wearing a wide shoe with a wide toe box so that your foot has enough space. Shift your weight to the midfoot and more to the outer edge of your foot to ensure stability of your ankle.

Weight and impression over the forefoot and midfoot When performing a squat, make sure you have little or no weight on your heels. Athletic human movements only take place on the forefoot and midfoot, as this is where our muscles, tendons and ligaments, have the best and safest power transmission.

Seated squat

The first and easiest variation is the seated squat, where we sit down briefly and then come back to a standing position. Initiate the exercise with a simultaneous hip and knee flexion. Go down in a controlled manner. Keep the contact time with the bench or chair low. Stand up again quickly. Pay attention to the rules for foot position, already mentioned above. It is best to perform a higher volume of the exercise as it is rather easy for most people.

We recommend 5 sets of 25 repetitions

Free Squat

Another easier exercise is the free squat without weight. Similar to the seated squat, we start the exercise with hip and knee flexion. Rather than pushing your knees forward, guide your buttocks slightly backwards when in the eccentric (descending) part of the exercise. Remember, we do not break a knee angle of over 90°. The feet remain neutral and the knees do not collapse inwards.

We recommend 4-5 sets of 15-20 repetitions

Free squat with kettlebell/weight

Freie Kniebeuge mit Gewicht
Free squat with weight

The next progression is the free squat with weight. We recommend positioning the weight in front of the chest. However, the weight can also sit behind the neck or on the shoulders. The execution is identical to the execution of the free squat. With the extra weight, we recommend reducing the number of repetitions.

We recommend 4 sets of 10-15 repetitions

Explosive squat into vertical jump

The most difficult exercise in this progression is the free or loaded squat with jump. It is important here to ensure a clean landing, especially that our knee does not bend inwards when landing and that our feet continue to point neutrally forward. As this exercise is very explosive, the number of repetitions is reduced to ensure a clean execution. Furthermore, this exercise should be performed at the beginning of the training, when the coordination is still good and the muscles are not yet too tired.

We recommend 3-4 sets of 4-8 repetitions each

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