Half squat is an easier version of a standard squat. When I started I thought I was doing squats while I was actually doing half squats.
The difference is in the range of motion. In squats, you will be lowering until your thighs are parallel to the ground. In half squats, you never go so low.
This calisthenics skill is great for developing the strength of your leg muscles when you still lack strength for regular squats.
Half squat can be found in squat progression. It’s not the easiest exercise in the progression. If you are a complete beginner you may want to start with something that is easier than half squats.
But it doesn’t mean this is a hard skill. It’s a beginner-friendly move that is just a bit harder than skills suited for people who never worked out in their life.
Half squat benefits
Half squat is a leg strengthening exercise that is great for:
- Improving leg strength if squats are too hard for you: When you lack strength for a full squat you may be able to pull off half squats. This is an easier variant that will help you improve the leg strength needed for a standard squat.
- Convenience: You don’t need any equipment to do half squat. This makes this skill convenient and portable. You can do it whenever you like and wherever you are.
- Improved form: Since you are basically doing a squat with a reduced range of motion, this move will help you improve your squatting form.
- Improved mobility: Half squats will help you improve mobility. It will make your hips, ankles, and knees move more than usual, which will improve your mobility over time.
What’s great about half squats is you can do this move without any equipment. This makes it “portable”. You don’t need access to the gym or use any special machinery. If you like you can do it at home, at work, or on vacation. Wherever you are this exercise can “go” with you.
Half squat muscles worked
Half squat is a leg exercise. This move will help you target your leg muscles. Primarily your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
Half squat muscles worked:
- Hip flexors
- Lower back
Half squat prerequisites
There are no specific prerequisites for doing half squats. Most people are able to do half squats without any prior preparation. You are probably doing the same move in your everyday life if you want to pick something up from knee level or below.
If you are recovering from an injury and trying to get back into active life, you will first want to go through physical therapy. After that, and consulting with your doctor, you may start with the easiest exercises in pistol squat progression. Slowly work your way up to half squats and beyond.
How to do half squat
Stand straight with your legs positioned a bit wider than your hip width. Your arms may be extended straight in front of you or bent in your elbows. It’s easier to balance with your arms extended, but it’s not necessary if not needed.
Lower your butt down toward the ground by bending your knees. Keep your weight distributed evenly on your feet. Don’t put too much weight on your toes or on your heels. Lower down as far as you can, but don’t go so low that your thighs are parallel to the ground, or going past that point. If you can go so low that your thighs are parallel to the ground you will be doing regular squats. If you lower below this level you will be doing deep squats.
To raise back up lift your butt up by extending your legs. Keep on going up until you are standing straight again.
Repeat for reps.
If you are able to do 3 sets with 15 reps in each set, you have reached mastery of this skill.
Mistake 1 – Too wide or too narrow stance
If you position your legs too close to one another it will impair your balance. If you place your feet too wide, you will start to work your inner thighs. This is not what this exercise is intended for. Placing your feet a bit wider (but not too wide) than hip-width is just right.
When you look down at your feet you will easily notice if they are too close or too wide. Place your feet just a fraction wider than your hip width and you will be fine.
Mistake 2 – Weight on your toes or on your heels
If you put too much weight on your toes you will move your knees too much forward. This will strain your knees unnecessarily. The other extreme is putting too much weight on your heels. This will be better for your knees, but you may lose balance and start falling back. Keeping your weight on the center of your feet is what you should aim for.
When you start lowering your butt you may feel your weight shift forward or backward. It’s natural. Just try to stay focused and correct and shift your weight forward or backward if you feel it’s going too much at your toes or your heels.
Mistake 3 – Going too low
When you build your strength and half squats are getting too easy, you may find yourself going too low. This is not necessarily a bad thing. This happened to me on a few occasions when I wanted to shoot a video for this exercise. It just means you outgrew this skill and you are ready to do a full squat.
If you want to do a half squat correctly don’t allow your butt to go as low as in a regular squat or a deep squat.
Half squats are relatively easy to do. But there are a few easier moves you can do before tackling half squat. Here are a few examples:
When you reach half squat and it becomes too easy for you you can try some harder moves. Here are a few options you can explore:
Those are just a few examples. Like in any other progression, it’s best to go through this progression one by one exercise. When you reach the prerequisites in one exercise, you move on to the next one.
Half squat is a beginner leg skill. It’s easy and convenient because it doesn’t require any equipment. So, you can do it wherever you are.
Half squat is part of a squat progression. It will help you build strength and you will be able to get to a full squat in no time.