Strength & Conditioning – Al Kavadlo: Week 1, Day 3

If you want to master basic bodyweight movements, don’t miss these exclusive workouts designed by calisthenics expert Al Kavadlo.

This four-week program is designed by calisthenics expert and author Al Kavadlo. Three workouts are posted each week and cover a total of twelve bodyweight exercise progressions and tutorials, including everything from pull ups, to pistols, to the infamous human flag. If you’re joining late in the game, feel free to jump right in!

Week 1, Day 3: Squatting 101

The squat is the king of all lower body exercises. Squats work every muscle in your legs as well as your abs and lower back. Since your legs are such large muscles, they require lots of blood and oxygen to perform squats. So if you do enough reps, squats can be a great way to give your heart and lungs a workout too.

A lot of trainers might tell you that proper squatting form requires you to keep your knees behind your toes. However, this is not always the case. Telling a client to keep their knees behind their toes during squats is a cue to help them understand the mechanics of moving from the hips. It isn’t necessarily the literal truth for everyone.

The term “dorsi flexion” refers to the movement that occurs at the ankle joint during a squat. People with more ankle mobility can keep their heels flat and put their knees in front of their toes at the same time because of dorsi flexion. As long as you initiate your squat from the hips, keep your heels down and retract your shoulder blades, you’re good to go.

Another common cue for squatters (no, not the punks living in the abandoned warehouse) is to lower down until you’ve reached 90 degrees of flexion at the knees. This is another generalized cue that is great for some, but not ideal for all.

First off, newcomers and people with limited mobility might not be able to get that deep without sacrificing proper form. Second, many able-bodied folk will be able to squat much deeper than thighs parallel to the ground. As long as you can maintain your form, feel free to go ass to the grass on bodyweight squats.

I recommend going for high reps on bodyweight squats. A beginner should be able to quickly build to 20 in a row, while a nice intermediate goal is to aim for 40-50 in one set. Eventually you may build to 100 consecutive squats. Once you can do more than 100, it’s probably time to find a harder exercise! Look for my tutorials on lunges and one leg squats later this month. Til then, work on that hundred.