How Many Bodyweight Squats to Build Muscle Effectively?

Bodyweight squats are a staple in fitness routines for good reason—they’re effective, accessible, and can be modified to suit any fitness level. But do you know how many bodyweight squats to build muscle effectively?

Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting your fitness journey, understanding how many bodyweight squats you need to perform is crucial for muscle growth, injury prevention, and overall health.

As a Certified Person Trainer and Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, I wrote this comprehensive guide to help you determine the right number of squats for your personal goals and provide tips for optimizing your squat routine.

couple doing bodyweight squats in their kitchen

Individual goals matter

When it comes to building muscle with bodyweight squats, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The number of squats you need to perform largely depends on your individual goals. Are you looking to build strength, increase endurance, or improve overall fitness? Each goal requires a different approach.

If your goal is to build muscle and strength, you’ll need to focus on progressive overload—gradually increasing the intensity of your workouts. On the other hand, if you’re aiming for endurance, higher reps with shorter rest periods might be more suitable.

It’s important to note that there’s no magic number of squats that guarantees muscle growth. Instead, the key lies in consistency, proper technique, and gradually increasing the challenge. Your fitness level, experience, and goals will all play a role in determining the right number for you.

Your age and activity level matters

When it comes to incorporating any new type of activity, even bodyweight only training, your starting point matters. One of the best things about bodyweight squats is that they can be performed by people of all ages and activity levels and right in your own home or from anywhere you want. If you’re new to squats, start with a manageable number of reps and sets to build a strong foundation.

Initial Reps and Sets

For beginners, aim to perform 10-15 reps for 2-4 rounds. This range allows you to focus on form and gradually build strength without overexerting yourself. It’s crucial to listen to your body and avoid pushing too hard too soon.


Performing squats 2-3 times a week is a good starting point. This frequency provides enough stimulus for muscle growth while allowing ample time for recovery. As you progress, you can increase the frequency to further challenge your muscles.

Progressing Over Time

Once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to progress by increasing reps, sets, tempo, and variations. This gradual progression will help you avoid plateaus and keep your workouts challenging.

Knowing when to change it up

While consistency is important, it’s equally crucial to change up your routine. Performing the same type of squat repeatedly can lead to overuse injuries and hinder progress.

Signs It’s Time to Switch

If you’ve reached 50 reps of a particular squat variation, it’s a clear sign that you should try something new. Additionally, if you find your workouts becoming monotonous or notice a plateau in your progress, it’s time to introduce new variations.

Preventing Overuse

Incorporating different squat variations and exercises that target complementary muscle groups can also help prevent overuse injuries. Listen to your body and give yourself adequate rest between sessions.

woman warming up before working out outside

Warm up and cool down to prevent injury

Proper warm-up and cool-down routines are essential for preventing injuries and optimizing performance. Here’s how to incorporate them into your squat routine:


A dynamic warm-up increases blood flow to your muscles and prepares your body for exercise. Include movements like leg swings, hip circles, and cardio movements to activate the muscles you’ll use during squats.


After your workout, spend a few minutes cooling down with static stretches and trigger point sessions using foam rolling or percussion massaging. Focus on stretching your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back to enhance flexibility and reduce muscle soreness. Then try your hand at trigger point therapy to alleviate any specific tension or tightness.

Performing a squat with proper form

Proper form is crucial for maximizing the benefits of squats and preventing injuries. Follow these steps to ensure you’re performing squats correctly:

Step-by-Step Guide to Squatting

  1. Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lower your body by bending your knees and hips, keeping your chest up and back straight.
  3. Descend until your thighs are parallel to the ground or as low as your mobility allows.
  4. Push through the entirety of your foot while engaging your glutes and quads to return to the starting position.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Knees Caving In: Ensure your knees track over your toes to prevent strain on your joints.
  • Rounding the Back: Keep your back straight and chest lifted throughout the movement.
  • Rising Onto Toes: Press through using your full foot and your heels to maintain balance and engage your glutes.

Importance of Slow and Controlled Movements

Performing bodyweight squats slowly and with control enhances muscle activation and reduces the risk of injury. Focus on maintaining proper form throughout each rep. Doing this will also improve your mind-body connection and allow for better engagement of the targeted muscle groups and allow for even better results.

Progressing your routine

Gradually progressing by increasing the number of reps and sets in your squat routine is key to building muscle and preventing plateaus. Here’s how to do it effectively:

Progressive Overload

Start with a base number of reps and sets that challenge you but are manageable. Each week, aim to increase either the number of reps, sets, or both. This gradual progression ensures continuous muscle growth.

Tracking Progress

Keep a workout journal to track the number of reps, sets, and variations you perform. Monitoring your progress helps you stay motivated and identify areas for improvement.

Listening to Your Body

While it’s important to push yourself, it’s equally crucial to listen to your body. If you experience pain or excessive fatigue, take a step back and allow yourself time to recover.

woman performing pistol squat in park

Change up your squat variation

To keep your workouts engaging and effective, regularly incorporate different squat variations. I wrote an entire post on 41 squat variations you can perform that you can check out, but here are a just few to consider:

Cossack Squats

Stand with feet wide apart. Shift your weight to one side, bending that knee and lowering your body while keeping the other leg straight. Return to the center and repeat on the other side.

Pistol Squats

A challenging single-leg squat that requires balance and strength. Start with assisted pistol squats by holding onto a support or suspension trainer for balance or lowering down onto a high platform.

Jump Squats

Adding a plyometric element, jump squats increase the intensity, cardiovascular challenge, and calorie expenditure of your workout. Ensure you land softly to minimize impact on your joints.

Sumo Squats

With a wider stance and toes pointed out, sumo squats target the inner thighs and glutes.

Bulgarian Split Squats

A great way to isolate each leg, Bulgarian split squats involve placing one foot on a bench behind you while performing a squat with the other leg.

Box Squats

Using a box or bench, sit back onto the surface and then stand up. This variation helps improve your squat depth and form.

How often should you do squats?

Determining the right frequency – whether you squat every day, several times a week, or once a week – for your squat routine depends on your goals and experience level. Here’s a general guideline:


If you’re new to squats, start with 2-3 sessions per week. This frequency allows for adequate recovery and muscle growth.

Intermediate to Advanced

As you become more experienced, you can increase the frequency to 4-5 sessions per week. Ensure you vary the intensity and type of squats to prevent overtraining.

Again, Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to how your body responds to your squat routine. If you experience persistent soreness or fatigue, consider reducing the frequency to allow for recovery.

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How to know if you’re doing too many squats

While squats are beneficial, overdoing them can lead to burnout and injuries. Here are signs that you might be doing too many squats:

Excessive Soreness

Feeling sore after a workout is normal, but if the soreness persists for several days, it might be a sign of overtraining or undereating. Be sure to properly fuel for your workouts with nutritious whole foods and protein-heavy snacks and meals and allow yourself time to recover before your next squat session.

Decreased Performance

If you notice a decline in your squat performance or other exercises, it could indicate that you’re overloading your muscles. Take a break and adjust your routine accordingly.

Mental Fatigue

Overtraining can lead to mental fatigue and a lack of motivation. If you find yourself dreading your workouts, it might be time to reduce the frequency and intensity of your squats.

woman doing squat with a physical therapist

When to see a PT

If you experience pain or have an injury that prevents you from completing a squat, it’s important to seek professional help. You may want to consider seeking a physical therapist (PT).  They will be able to assess your condition and provide tailored recommendations to get you moving better.

Identifying the Cause

A PT can help identify the root cause of your pain or injury and develop a personalized plan to address it. This may include specific exercises, stretches, or modifications to your squat technique.

Preventing Future Injuries

Working with a PT can also help you prevent future injuries by addressing any imbalances or weaknesses in your muscles and joints. They can guide you on proper form and technique to ensure safe and effective workouts.

Returning to Squats

Once you’ve addressed the underlying issue, your PT can help you gradually reintroduce squats into your routine. Follow their guidance to avoid re-injury and continue making progress.

Conclusion: how many bodyweight squats to build muscle

Bodyweight squats are a powerful tool for building muscle, improving strength, and enhancing overall fitness. By understanding the factors that influence the number of squats you need to perform, incorporating variations, and listening to your body, you can create an effective and enjoyable squat routine.

Remember, there is no magic number when it comes to squats. The key is consistency, proper form, and gradual progression no matter where you’re starting from. If you’re ready to take your fitness to the next level, start incorporating these tips into your routine today.

Don’t wait—start squatting your way to strength and success!

woman doing squats by the river


Are bodyweight squats enough to build muscle?

Yes, bodyweight squats can be enough to build muscle, especially for beginners. However, as you progress, you may need to incorporate additional resistance or variations to continue challenging your muscles and promote further growth.

Is 100 bodyweight squats a day good?

Performing 100 bodyweight squats a day can be too much for most people. It can lead to overuse injuries and muscle fatigue if not balanced with rest and proper recovery. It’s better to start with a manageable number, take adequate rest days in between,  include squat variations, and gradually increase as your strength and endurance improve.

How many squats should I do to build muscle?

As mentioned above, this number varies from person to person.  A good place to start is with a range of 2 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions per session, ensuring you maintain proper form throughout. As you get stronger, gradually increase the number of reps or incorporate variations to continue challenging your muscles and promoting growth.

Do bodyweight squats build strength?

Yes, bodyweight squats can build strength, particularly for beginners and those returning to exercise. By consistently performing bodyweight squats with proper form, you engage multiple muscle groups, leading to increased muscle endurance and strength over time.

Can bodyweight squats build legs?

Yes, bodyweight squats can build and tone leg muscles effectively. By performing them regularly with proper form, you engage key muscle groups in your legs, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, leading to increased strength and muscle definition over time.

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