Do Air Squats Build Muscle? Top Training Tips

Are you looking for a simple yet effective exercise to include in your home fitness routine? Look no further than air squats. But do air squats build muscle? 

Often overlooked, this fundamental movement can significantly contribute to building muscle and improving overall strength. Squats are both accessible and beneficial and perfect for fitness enthusiasts and health-conscious individuals, especially those focusing on home fitness or who travel frequently. 

As a Certified Person Trainer and Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, I’m here to guide you through the ins and outs of air squats, from proper form to common mistakes, and explore their muscle-building potential.

woman doing air squat by the ocean at sunset

What is an air squat?

An air squat is a bodyweight exercise that involves lowering your body into a seated position without any additional weights. It is a staple in many fitness programs due to its simplicity and effectiveness. The exercise also requires no equipment, making it ideal for home workouts.

Air squats primarily engage the lower body muscles, but they also activate the core and improve overall balance. By practicing this exercise regularly, you can enhance your muscle endurance and prepare your body for more advanced movements.

The beauty of air squats lies in their versatility. You can perform them anywhere, anytime, making them a convenient option for maintaining fitness, even with a busy schedule.

How to perform an air squat properly

Performing air squats with the correct form is crucial for maximizing benefits and preventing injury. Follow these steps to ensure you’re doing them right:

  1. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Point your toes either straight ahead or slightly outward to maintain stability.
  2. Engage your core by bracing your abs.  Not sure if you’re doing it right?  Pretend like you’re about to get hit in the abdomen and tense your core while exhaling. Hold that position throughout the exercise while maintaining normal breathing. This will protect your lower back.
  3. Lower your body by bending at the hips and knees.
  4. Keep your chest up and back straight. Your knees should track over your toes, not collapse inward.
  5. Go as low as you can while maintaining form. Aim to have your thighs parallel to the ground.
  6. Push through the entirety of your feet while engaging your glute and quad muscles (butt and thighs) as you pull your body back up and return your hips and knees to neutral position.

Keep your movements controlled and deliberate. Speed should never compromise form, as this can lead to injury and reduce the effectiveness of the exercise.

Common mistakes to avoid

Knees Fall In / Feet Flatten

One common mistake is allowing the knees to collapse inward or the feet to flatten. This can strain your knees and reduce the effectiveness of the squat.

To avoid this, focus on keeping your knees aligned with your toes throughout the movement. Engage your glutes and outer thigh muscles to maintain this alignment.

Rounded Back

A rounded back is another frequent error that can cause lower back pain and injury.

Ensure your chest stays up and your back remains straight. Engaging your core and keeping a neutral spine will help you maintain proper posture.

Heels Lift Up

Lifting your heels off the ground during a squat shifts the weight forward, increasing the risk of falling as well as knee injury and reducing the effectiveness of the exercise.

To prevent this, keep your weight distributed evenly across your feet, with a slight emphasis on the heels. Practicing squats in front of a mirror or filming yourself completing the exercise can help you monitor your form.

practicing squat form with personal trainer
Woman with heels raised on squat learning how improve her form with a personal trainer.

Muscles targeted by air squats

Air squats primarily target the muscles of the lower body, but they also engage the core. Here’s a breakdown of the key muscles involved:

  • Quadriceps: Located at the front of your thighs, these muscles are heavily engaged during the lowering and lifting phases.
  • Glutes: Your buttocks muscles work to extend your hips as you return to the starting position.
  • Hamstrings: Situated at the back of your thighs, they assist in bending your knees and stabilizing your movement.
  • Calves: These muscles help stabilize your lower legs, especially when pushing through your heels.
  • Core: Engaging your core muscles helps maintain balance and a straight back throughout the squat.

By targeting these muscle groups, air squats contribute to overall lower body strength and endurance.

Benefits of air squats

Incorporating air squats into your fitness routine offers numerous benefits:

  1. Convenience: No equipment needed means you can perform air squats anywhere you like to exercise, making them perfect for home and travel workouts.
  2. Muscle Activation: Air squats engage multiple muscle groups, promoting overall lower body strength.
  3. Improved Stability and Balance: Regularly practicing air squats enhances your body’s stability and balance, reducing the risk of falls and injuries.
  4. Enhanced Mobility: This exercise promotes hip, knee, and ankle mobility, which is crucial for overall functional movement.
  5. Cardiovascular Benefits: Performing high repetitions can elevate your heart rate, providing a cardiovascular workout alongside muscle strengthening.
created just for you

Grab my Best Resources – FREE!

Grab my 5 Day Wellness Challenge, Top 15 Healthy Travel Tips download, and more!

Do air squats build muscle?

Yes, air squats can build muscle. While they may not provide the same level of resistance as weighted squats, they still offer significant muscle-building potential when performed correctly and consistently.

The key to muscle growth with air squats lies in progressive overload. This means gradually increasing the intensity of your workouts to continuously challenge your muscles. You can achieve this by increasing the number of repetitions, incorporating bodyweight squat variations, or reducing rest times between sets.

It’s essential to pair your squats with a balanced diet rich in high protein snacks and meals to support muscle repair and growth. Additionally, adequate rest and recovery are crucial for allowing your muscles to rebuild stronger.

Do air squats build strength?

Air squats do build strength, although the extent depends on various factors, such as your current fitness level, the number of reps and sets you perform, and how you incorporate them into your routine.

For beginners, air squats offer an excellent way to develop foundational strength in the lower body. However, more advanced fitness enthusiasts may need to incorporate additional resistance (like weights or bands) to continue building strength.

Combining air squats with other strength-training exercises ensures balanced muscle development and prevents plateaus in your fitness progress.

woman doing air squat on bosu ball

Air squat variations to enhance your workout

1. Add Instability

Perform air squats on an unstable surface, such as a balance board or BOSU ball. This engages your stabilizing muscles (and there are tons!) and improves balance.

2. Holds and Pauses

Pause at the bottom of your squat for a few seconds before returning to the starting position. This increases time under tension which promotes muscle growth.

3. Single Leg Squats

Also known as pistol squats, these are more advanced and target each leg individually, enhancing balance and unilateral strength. Too hard?  Try a pistol squat from seated on a high surface and stand up and sit down while gradually lowering the height of the surface as you get stronger.

4. Add Plyometrics

Incorporate a jump at the top of your squat to add a plyometric element. This variation boosts power and explosiveness.

5. Add Hip Resistance Band

Place a resistance band around your thighs, just above the knees. This adds resistance and targets your glutes more effectively.

6. Add Ball Between Legs

Place a small medicine ball or yoga block between your inner thighs and squeeze as you perform the squat. This targets your adductors (inner thigh muscles) and adds an extra challenge to the exercise.

Incorporating these variations into your air squat routine can help prevent plateaus, keep your workouts engaging, and further enhance lower body strength. Experiment with different combinations and find what works best for you. Remember to always listen to your body, start with proper form, and progress gradually as you become stronger. Keep challenging yourself and watch as your lower body becomes more toned, functional, and powerful! 

Conclusion: do air squats build muscle?

Air squats are a versatile and effective exercise that can significantly contribute to muscle building and overall strength. By mastering proper form, avoiding common mistakes, and incorporating variations, you can maximize the benefits of this simple yet powerful movement.

Ready to take your fitness to the next level? Incorporate air squats into your routine and explore the endless possibilities they offer. For further guidance and more tips on optimizing your workouts, consider booking a session with a fitness professional, joining my Sweaty Sexy Strong in 30 program, or engaging in a community of like-minded individuals.

Empower your fitness journey with the humble air squat and discover the strength within you!

woman doing air squat on the beach


Will 100 air squats a day do anything?

Yes, 100 air squats a day can contribute to muscle building and improve lower body strength. It is important to also vary the intensity and incorporate other exercises in order to see continued progress, avoid overuse, and prevent plateaus.

Can you lose weight by doing air squats?

While air squats alone may not result in significant weight loss, they can be a part of an overall fitness routine that includes a balanced diet and other forms of exercise. Additionally, by building muscle through air squats, your metabolism can increase, leading to more efficient calorie burn throughout the day.

Are air squats better than regular squats?

Both air squats and regular squats have their own advantages and can be beneficial. Air squats are a bodyweight exercise that require no equipment, making them accessible and versatile. Regular squats, on the other hand, can incorporate added weight and variations to target specific muscle groups. Incorporating both into your routine can provide benefits for overall strength and muscle building.

How many air squats should I do a day?

The number of air squats you should do in a day depends on your fitness level and goals. It is important to listen to your body and gradually increase the number as you build strength and endurance. Starting with a lower number, such as 10-15, and gradually increasing by 5-10 each week can be a good guideline.

Can I do air squats every day?

As with any exercise, it is important to allow your muscles time to rest and recover. While air squats may seem like a simple movement, they still require exertion from your lower body muscles. Incorporating rest days in between squat sessions can prevent overuse injuries and allow for muscle growth.

How many air squats should I do to build muscle?

To specifically target muscle building with air squats, you can incorporate variations such as adding weight or changing the tempo of the movement. It’s also important to gradually increase the number of reps and sets as your muscles adapt. A good starting point could be 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions, with a challenging weight or tempo.

How often should I do air squats?

The frequency of air squats in your workout routine can vary depending on your overall fitness goals. For general strength and muscle building, aim for 2-4 times a week, with rest days in between. If you’re looking to improve endurance, incorporating them more frequently may be beneficial. It’s important to listen to your body and adjust accordingly to avoid overtraining.

Read More on All-Things Fitness Anywhere Tips:

My Wellness Anywhere Toolkit

  • Rocky Mountain Oils – essential oils for energy, stress-relief, immunity, first aid, natural cleaning, better sleep, pain relief, & more!
  • Femme Royale – the most comfortable fitness outfits & my all-time favorite backpack-turns-weightlifting bag, the Empack, perfect at home & anywhere!
  • Trulean – the best travel packets of clean protein powder & wellness-boosting drink mixes.
  • Suspension trainer – a fun & portable piece of workout equipment that enables you to workout in your hotel room or outside in nature!
  • Loop bands & tube bands – super lightweight strength-training bands that can be brought anywhere without taking up much space or weight.
  • Pure Wave percussion massager – best percussion massager for releasing trigger points & relaxing muscles, including all the hard-to-reach areas!
  • IntelliRoll foam rollers – favorite foam rollers for daily use that hits all the right spots with their one-of-a-kind design.
  • Thrive Market – amazing online grocer for stocking up on all your healthy & travelable snacks at a discount!
  • Prep Dish – nutritious meal-planning service that saves you stress, time, & energy and guides you on prepping your entire week in just a couple hours.
  • Cook Once, Eat All Week – all-time favorite cookbook that provides 26 weeks of healthy meal plans that can be prepped & cooked in bulk each week.
  • Just Thrive – the best spore probiotic for keeping your gut health in-check no matter where you are in the world.
  • Expedia – great place to book your wellness travels & accommodations.
  • Viator – best place for booking experiences that compliment your travels.

Want to learn more simple & sustainable wellness tips? Check out My Resources page where you can grab all my best guides & trainings created just for you!

Pin this for later!

Do Air Squats Build Muscle pinnable image