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You don't need weights to perform squats.
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Body-weight exercises use the resistance of your own weight, moving against gravity, to work your muscles. Squats are no different. Although bodybuilders and powerlifters typically perform squats with heavy barbells on their shoulders, the exercise remains beneficial when you hold lighter weights, or no weights at all. Even though you're only working against your body weight, don't skip the warm-up. Perform five to 10 minutes of aerobic exercise before you bend into your first squat.
Body-Weight Squat Technique
To begin your body-weight squat, stand erect with your shoulders back and feet spread a bit more than hip-width apart. Tighten your abs, inhale and then bend your hips and knees to lower your torso, as if you were sitting straight down. Keep your knees aligned with your feet as you descend. Stop when your thighs are roughly parallel with the floor. Exhale as you push yourself up to the starting position.
Leg Muscles Worked
Unweighted squats target the quadriceps muscle group at the front of each thigh, but you'll also work several other leg muscles. The adductor magnus on the insides of your thighs and the soleus in your calves assist your movements, while the hamstrings at the back of each thigh and the gastrocnemius in your calves are engaged as stabilizers.
Body-Weight Squats Can Make Your Legs Bigger
Because unweighted squats work your thighs and calves they can make your legs bigger, depending on several factors. To increase muscle mass you must challenge your muscles by working them progressively harder over time. So if you've been doing barbell squats for several months, switching to body-weight squats is unlikely to add muscle mass. But if you've been sedentary, performing unweighted squats is a good start and should make your leg muscles grow. Begin by doing eight to 12 repetitions, two to three times per week. In time, challenge your muscles by squatting deeper, adding sets or reducing the rest time between sets.
Unweighted Squat Variations
Use an exercise tool during your body-weight squat workouts to vary your routine a bit. For example, press an exercise ball against a wall with your back as you stand straight, and then perform the squat by bending your knees while you keep the ball between your back and the wall. You can also do squats while you're standing on a balance board. Move your arms as needed to maintain your balance.