Kneeling squat is an excellent bodyweight squat exercise for building lower-body strength.
It is great as it works the larger muscles of your lower body while still protecting your knees unlike the traditional barbell squat.
Even though the latter has been argued to be the best strength exercise you can perform, it may be troublesome for those with knee issues.
Therefore, if you have knee issues, or minor joint and tendon problems, this movement is your best option.
However, before performing any of these exercises, ensure you talk to your doctor first if you are dealing with any injuries.
The movement is quite versatile and can be done anywhere, with or without equipment. You can use dumbbells, barbell or resistance bands to make it harder.
Also, the exercise helps to activate your glutes and improve your regular squat. The kneeling squat with a barbell activates the glutes better than any other squat type.
HOW TO DO KNEELING SQUAT
Here are the steps for performing the exercise
- Start in a kneeling position with both knees on the mat and kept fairly wide. They should be just outside shoulder length and in a similar position as that in a regular squat. Your shoulders should be directly over your hips and keep a neutral head and neck position. Ensure your chin remains tucked throughout the movement.
- Hold your arms in front of your body or you can place them by your sides. Keep your back straight, core engaged, ribs down and pelvis slightly tucked. This will be your starting position.
- Now, while bending your knees, hinge your hips back and down allowing your hips to travel toward your heels until your glutes touch the heels. Keep your hips in line with your knees. Your shoulders should finish ahead of your hips, over the middle of your thighs.
- Hold briefly at the bottom of the movement, then squeeze your glutes in order to begin the upward movement. Keep your back straight and your head up while extending your pelvis forward as you would at the top of a deadlift. Ensure you squeeze your glutes at the top of the motion.
- Repeat the movement for the desired number of sets and reps.
KNEELING SQUAT MUSCLES WORKED
Throughout the exercise, these muscles help to stabilize the body. Most of the resistance used is usually transferred to the quads.
These muscles are the main drivers of the movement. Just like in a regular squat, the glutes are engaged throughout and they not only assist in driving upwards, but also handling the resistance on the eccentric phase.
Similar to the quads, the hamstrings also keep the body stabilized during the movement. They are also worked throughout the movement, just not like the quads and glutes.
HIP FLEXORS/ADDUCTOR MAGNUS
These muscles not only help to support the upper body, but also drive the body–and weight–forward. This helps to improve other lifts such as the deadlift.
The lower back and spinae erectors are essential in supporting the entire body throughout the exercise.
Any squat movement automatically turns into a genuine core workout. This is because abs are engaged together with the lower back to keep the torso supported and prevent injury.
KNEELING SQUAT BENEFIT
BUILDS LOWER-BODY STRENGTH.
The exercise is great for toning your gluteus maximus as it focuses attention on the hip thrust range of motion so as to increase glute activation and hip extension.
Additionally, quadriceps, hip flexors, adductor magnus, and hamstrings are other lower-body muscles worked.
BUILDS CORE STRENGTH.
When performed using the correct form, the exercise helps build upper-body strength by activating your abdominal muscles. Your abs are important in stabilizing your lower back and supporting your whole body throughout the workout.
CONVENIENT HOME WORKOUT.
The exercise is quite convenient as you do not need any special equipment for its performance. Therefore, you can incorporate it into your workout regimen whether you work-out at the gym or at home.
The movement can also be done with various equipment like bodyweight, dumbbells, barbells, and resistance bands. You are not limited to just one type of equipment.
The exercise is good for those with injuries or rehabbing, or for less experienced lifters, who are learning proper muscle control and activation through squatting.
KNEELING SQUAT VARIATIONS
BARBELL KNEELING SQUAT
For barbell kneeling squat, get into a kneeling position and lift a barbell off of a Smith machine or power rack set at shoulder height.
SMITH MACHINE KNEELING SQUAT
The Smith Machine Kneeling Squat is very similar to the Barbell Kneeling Squat, only that this requires more of a forwards lean since the Smith Machine will only allow the barbell to travel in a straight path.
KNEELING SQUAT ALTERNATIVES
KNEELING SQUAT MISTAKES TO AVOID
DROPPING TOO QUICKLY
Dropping to quickly into the squatting position, disengages the glutes and this puts pressure or pain onto the knee joints. It is essential that that the glutes are kept engaged throughout the exercise.
Having a controlled phase that keeps the glutes engaged as you move downwards can help strengthen the muscles surrounding the knees thus preventing injury.
It can be tempting to hinge forward at the hips a little as you lower into a squat. However, to maintain a tight core, ensure you stay as upright as possible.
LEANING TO THE LEFT OR RIGHT
Ensure you remain centered throughout the movement and not leaning towards the sides as you lower down by keeping your eyes focused forward.
You can also avoid this by bringing the shoulder blades down and back then engaging the core. This helps to support hip extension as you press through the top of the movement as well.
OVERLOADING THE WEIGHT
It can be tempting to try and overload the movement with a lot of resistance since the knees provide a stable base.
Essentially, remember the overall goal of this exercise is glute activation which does not require much weight. Therefore, just focus on good form and maximum contraction to really enjoy the exercise’s benefits.
As seen, the kneeling squat is a great glute exercise that not only improves your regular squats but also increases your glute strength and activation.
This can be beneficial to other exercises such as deadlifts, lunges, and any explosive jumping movements.