At the heart of functional fitness lies the most foundational of all movements: the air squat, that is, without any weight other than body weight. The air squat is a prerequisite to other movements like the front squat, back squat, overhead squat, squat clean, and squat snatch. Perfect the air squat first, then ramp up to the other more challenging, loaded movements. Even then, the air squat is a great movement on its own and is incorporated into a lot of bodyweight WODs.
Set-Up: Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and faced forward. Stand tall with your hips and knees fully extended, and your heels planted. Where you set your arms is more of a preference than anything else; but if you’re a beginner, set your arms up high and over your head—this’ll help you find an upright torso.
Execution: Brace the core. Reach your hips back and down as you descend to the bottom of the squat. At the bottom, your hips should be lower than your knees. Maintain your lumbar curve throughout the squat. Keep your heels in contact with the ground as you descend and ascend. Your knees should track your toes throughout the movement. Stand tall at the top of the movement to reach full hip and knee extension.
Points of Performance: To get a “good rep,” ensure the following:
– Your hip crease drops below your knee crease at the bottom of the squat
– You reach full hip and knee extension at the top
Pro Tip: Keep your weight in your mid-foot/heel during the air squat. It’s common to shift your weight forward (onto your toes) and put unnecessary, pain-inducing stress on the patellar tendon—the structure that connects the kneecap to the shinbone.