You may have noticed people performing a kneeling squat in the gym and wondered how effective this is compared to a regular squat. Is it harder on the knees? How does it work the muscles if a full range of motion is not performed? You may also wonder how to effectively perform a kneeling squat and if it’s safe to do.
This article will look at all aspects of the kneeling squat and if it’s something you should include in your training.
What Is The Kneeling Squat?
The kneeling squat is the perfect way to work the larger muscles of the lower body while still protecting your knees. A traditional barbell squat is arguably the very best strength exercise you can perform–but it may cause trouble for those with knee issues.
The kneeling squat becomes the top choice if you have knee issues, or minor joint and tendon problems. Before engaging in any of these exercises, you will want to discuss with a doctor beforehand if you are dealing with any injuries.
The kneeling squat is very versatile as it can be done anywhere, and with or without equipment. Bodyweight kneeling squats are common, but you can also perform them with dumbbells, or resistance bands.
If you’ve been having trouble activating your glutes–and want to improve your regular squat–kneeling squats will help. The kneeling squats with a barbell activate the glutes more than any other type of squat.
How to Do a Kneeling Squat
It’s best to start with a padded mat to provide a bit more comfort and support. If you have bad knee pain–but are ok to exercise–you can even do these on a bed to take even more pressure off the knees.
Step 1: Start in the kneeling position on the mat. It’s important to keep your knees fairly wide. They should be just outside shoulder length and similar to the position they would be in if you were doing a regular squat.
Step 2: keeping your back straight, and your core engaged, drop the hips down the same way you would with a squat, lowering down until your glutes touch your heels
Step 3: While keeping the back straight–and your head up–come back up extending the pelvis forward the same way you would at the top of a deadlift. Similar to the deadlift, you want to make sure to squeeze your glutes at the top of the motion.
Tips: make sure to stay centered and not lean too much to the left or the right as you are lowering down.
Kneeling Squat Muscles Worked
The primary focus of the kneeling squat is on the glutes and quads, but here’s a breakdown of the muscles being worked.
Quadriceps: the quads help to stabilize the body through the kneeling squat. A majority of the resistance used will be transferred to the quads.
Glutes: the glutes are the primary driver of the kneeling squat. Similar to the regular squat, they are engaged the entire time and are responsible for driving upwards, but also handling the resistance on the eccentric phase.
Hamstrings: the hamstrings keep the body stabilized during a kneeling squat. They are also engaged through the movement, just not to the extent of the quads and glutes.
Hip flexors/Adductor Magnus: the hip flexors are also key to this movement. They help to support the upper body, but also drive the body–and weight–forward. This can help to improve other lifts such as the deadlift.
Lower back: The lower back and spinae erectors help to support the entire body throughout the movement.
Core/abs: any squatting motion turns into a genuine core workout. The abs are engaged along with the lower back to keep the torso supported. This is why you want to keep your abs tight through the motion. This will help keep the body stable and prevent injury.
Benefits of the Kneeling Squat
Here are the main benefits of the kneeling squat:
- Great for strengthening the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps
- A great core strengthening exercise that can be performed anywhere
- Versatile and can be performed with bodyweight, dumbbells, barbells, and resistance bands
- Activate the glutes without having to perform larger hip thrusting movements
- Improves the regular squat and helps to develop more glute activation
- An excellent variation to regular squats
- Develops, power, strength, and stability
- Strengthens the lower back and stabilizer muscles
- Low impact, good for those with injuries or rehabbing, and good training for less experienced lifters to learn proper muscle control and activation through a squat
The kneeling squat is a great exercise that not only can improve your regular squats, but increase glute strength and activation. This can translate over to many other exercises such as deadlifts, lunges, and any explosive jumping movements.
Kneeling squats are also a great core exercise that can help strengthen and improve stability. They are also a top choice for those with knee or joint pain. They are very similar to a regular squat but involve a more unique technique and muscle concentration focus.
Kneeling squats are a great way to strengthen the muscles of the lower body, build more strength, and give you variation in your bodyweight training.