Most everyone who has ever lifted weights before will praise the squat as one
of the very best exercises you can do. When you hear this, people are inevitably
referring to the barbell back
squat. In addition to being one of the best exercises, the barbell squat
is also one of the most risky and least forgiving exercises if something goes
wrong as knee, hip and lower back injuries could happen.
It is not that the barbell squat itself is not a safe exercise but the form
is very important to master before using weights on your back. That is where
body weight squats come in. Body weight squats teach the correct biomechanics of
the squat without the added weight.
The body weight squat can be performed with the hands in various positions.
The first position is usually with the arms extended as the weight of the arms
can act as a counter balance and allow you to drop your hips without losing
balance. Once you are comfortable with doing squats with your arms extended you
can put your arms behind your head (aka prisoner squats) or fold them across
your chest at shoulder level like when doing a
barbell front squat.
Body weight squats are usually performed during exercise programs for
beginners although they are also good for using the end to finish a tough
full-body or leg workout. Once you are able to master the squat with your own
body weight you can progress the difficulty of the exercise by either adding
resistance or increasing the instability using exercise balls
such as the BOSU or stability ball.