I truly hope you didn’t click on this post because of an assumption you made about the title!
If so, you would be disappointed to know that this post is about one of the staple exercises we use in our little Functional Fitness program here at Kemme Fitness.
Air Squats are called for in a great majority of our workouts. I, of course, have a video link to give you a demonstration of a proper Air Squat. However, I have learned over the years that none of the videos I have used seem to address one of the most important aspects of a proper form Air Squat. This is the movement of the knees.
For many of us, our knees ache when we put too much stress on them, and Air Squats (if done poorly) may cause discomfort for many people. Keeping your knees from extending out past your toes is a huge deal. You young folks might not feel this, but as you age, you will.
I realize that I might have to make my own video to really address this, but for now we’ll go with an explanation.
One of the first things I address when training somebody one on one is their ability to do an Air Squat. It is a lot harder than you think. If you actually keep your knees from extending out past your toes, while lowering your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground, you will have done a proper form Air Squat.
Go ahead, try it.
How did it go? Did you lower down far enough? How far out did your knees stick in order to keep yourself from falling backwards? Pretty hard to do, isn’t it?
Here is the perfect way to test yourself. Put yout toes up against a wall. Set a chair or bench a few feet behind you. Now squat down, making sure your knees do not touch that wall and have your butt land on the chair or bench. You can even drop your weight and rest on the chair for a second. Now stand back up. I’m guessing you can do this.
You might have to play with your feet placement. I found that this is very individualistic, mostly due to people’s body shape and flexibility. However, once you find your sweet spot, try it without the wall. I recommend you keep using that chair or bench though. You may find that it is a lot harder to keep those knees back if you do an Air Squat unaided.
This is where the 2″ comes into play. If your knees do extend out past your toes while doing an Air Squat, spending some time working on the fundamentals until those knees come back even just a few inches may be the difference between whipping out Air Squats with ease and doing them with pain and discomfort.
Remember, these are bodyweight only. Think about Thrusters, Cossack Squats, and Kettlbell Squats, among other exercises we do that have you squatting down with weight. The stress placed on your knees increases dramatically when you start holding things like Kettlebells in your hands.
If you have no discomfort or pain, then disregard this post. For the rest of you, remember that just a few inches can make a world of difference.
This Post Has 2 Comments
This is probably the one exercise that we do – ALL THE TIME – where I don’t follow Pete. I know that Pete swears by the air squat (both while doing them 🙂 & after the fact).
I, on the other hand, have been a long time proponent of the Hindu Squat – as seen/demonstrated by Matt Furey. The big time keys w/ the Hindu Squats are keeping your back straight, popping up on your toes as you go down, & then that row boat motion w/ the arms to help w/ balance.
I’ve been doing Hindu Squats ever since Vampiro (aka Ian Hodgkinson) introduced me to them way back in 1998 or so (I think that was the year…). What I should make clear is that when I started them I also cut out traditional squatting exercises as well. No more squatting 200-300 lbs for me. That type of stuff put lots of pressure on my knees & to be absolutely truthful – I have NEVER had knees problems since I started hindu squats AND my legs are just as strong & have more strength endurance. Try 100 hindu squats in a row & tell me how hard your breathing afterwards…
Everybody’s body is different. If air squats work for you, then Amen. If, however, they don’t, you might want to at least give hindu squats a look. They may be the answer you’ve been looking for.
Lawrence is correct – Hindu Squats are a great exercise. They may not seem different from Air Squats at first glance, but your legs will be burning quite soon. My knees don’t necessarily ache with them either, I just play it safe. If we can use Lawrence’s experiences as anecdotal evidence, then Hindu Squats are a whole other option for folks to add to variety.
I still think that the knees going out over your toes for an Air Squat is uncomfortable for some, as I have worked with them. I think it may be possilbe for a Hindu Squat to be so different that maybe it doesn’t matter where you knees are because you aren’t putting stress on them with the Hindu Squat form. I guess I don’t know that answer.
So here is my recommendations: If you do Air Squats – then keep the toes back. But, make sure you test out Hindu Squats in order to add to your tool box. See Lawrence’s comment about proper form, which is totally different than Air Squats.
Let us know what you think, whether you do 100 of them in a row or not