Kneeling Squat: Benefits, Form & How To

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: November 29, 2023
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Kneeling squats are a great exercise to incorporate into your program if you are rehabilitating or want to build lower body strength and size.

However, most individuals perform the kneeling squat without the correct form, thus not reaping the benefits of the workout.

As a certified fitness trainer, I will provide my findings and expertise on the proper form to perform the kneeling squat, the variations of the exercise, kneeling squat muscles worked, benefits, and the difference between kneeling and regular squats.

Quick Summary

  • The kneeling squat is performed in a kneeling position with your feet about hip-width apart, decreasing your glutes to the heels, then rising right back up.
  • The kneeling squat must be performed when a patient or athlete wants some training stimulation to be created in their leg muscle groups without using their ankles, knees, or calves.
  • The kneeling squat emphasizes the gluteus muscle groups while simultaneously stimulating the quadriceps and hamstring muscles while maintaining its compound characteristics.

How To Perform Kneeling Squat

A person at the gym doing kneeling squats with bodyweight at the gym

The kneeling squat is a simple exercise everyone can master, regardless of fitness level.

Begin with the bodyweight option and progress to the weighted version, increasing little loads as you go.

This will not only assist you in improving your workout form, but it will also keep you from injuring your muscles.

How to Perform Step-by-Step:

  1. Place your favorite exercise mat on the ground. This will relieve strain on your knees and give comfort to them. Start in a kneeling position.
  2. Place your hands on your knees, slightly wider or shoulder-width apart.
  3. Maintain toe contact with the ground by flexing your toes.
  4. Position your shoulders so they are directly above your hips, and the spine is straight.
  5. Maintain a neutral posture and tuck your chin.
  6. Maintain your arms at your sides or stretch them out before you.
  7. Push the chest forward slightly and engage your core.
  8. Squeeze your glutes.
  9. Hinge the hips back and sink your glutes into your heels as if sitting.
  10. Keep your hips and knees aligned without tilting to the left or right.
  11. Drop your glutes till they make contact with the calves without putting any weight on them.
  12. Maintain this position for one second.
  13. Squeeze your glutes and stretch your pelvis while maintaining a straight back to return to the beginning position.
  14. At the peak of the move, squeeze your glutes again.
  15. Repeat for the desired number of reps.
  16. Consider incorporating these top-rated post-workout supplements for faster recovery.

What Is Kneeling Squat

A person about to do kneeling squats at the gym

A kneeling squat is a bodyweight squat exercise used to strengthen the lower body.

Kneeling squats are performed by initially resting on the knees.

Slowly lower your body, maintaining your back straight until the backs of your legs rest on your calves.

Squeezing your glutes and pushing the hips forward to return to the beginning posture completes the range of motion.

This barbell squat variation is a frequent form of the kneeling squat in which you raise a barbell from a kneeling posture off a preferred power rack or quality Smith machine at shoulder height.

You may even make the workout more difficult by carrying weights while performing kneeling squats.

Kneeling Squat Variations

A person doing kneeling squats at the gym

You can experiment with various kneeling squat alternatives and variations.

Barbell Kneeling Squat

The barbell kneeling squat is a progression of the kneeling version.

This exercise is performed with a power rack bar on your back.

Weight addition will need more power from the glutes and secondary muscle groups; therefore, mastering the movement pattern is essential before adding a load.

Related: Best Barbell Exercises

Smith Machine Kneeling Squat

A person at the gym doing smith machine kneeling squats

Smith machine kneeling squats are done on a Smith machine.

This version is comparable to the barbell kneeling squat but requires a stronger forward lean because the Smith Machine only allows the barbell to go in a straight direction.

Read More: Smith Machine Squats: Form, Variations and Benefits

Resistance Band Kneeling Squat

This exercise stresses your hamstrings, glutes, and quads without putting tension on your back like a barbell.

"This band modification is vital for increasing hip tension. This added resistance promotes hip hinging during the eccentric period and glute dominance when the hips return to neutral."

- Micah Le'Gare, Certified Personal Trainer & Fitness Nutrition Specialist

Kettlebell Kneeling Squat

Because a kettlebell is loaded from the front, your stabilizing muscles and core have to work harder in this form.

Some of the kneeling squat alternatives include:

Muscle Activated by Kneeling Squat

A person with good leg muscles working out the gym

The kneeling squat primarily engages the glutes and quads but also activates the hamstrings, hip flexors, core, lower back, and abdominal muscles.

This may engage fewer squat muscles than the traditional squat, but this is significant for a reviled and ignored activity.

It also cannot be overstated how important all of these muscles are to the health and strength of the posterior chain.


During the kneeling squat, your quadriceps muscle groups are predominantly engaged.

The quadriceps, sometimes called the quads, is the fleshy muscle covering the sides and front of your thigh.

It comprises four muscle heads: rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, medialis, and intermedius. These muscles are linked to your hips and knees [1].

The quadriceps aid in leg extension at the knee joint and thigh flexion at the hip joint.

They are among the most often used main muscle groups, contributing to functional activities such as kicking, leaping, cycling, and running.

During the concentric part of the kneeling squat, your quadriceps assist you in extending your knees and stabilizing your body.

Hip Flexors

A person working out her hip flexors

Hip flexors are found on the front of the thigh.

These muscles are essential for stability and knee flexion [2].

Your hip flexors are an important aspect of the kneeling squat because they stabilize and support your body and propel you and the resistance load upward and forward.

The kneeling squat strengthens your hip flexors, which helps you perform better in movements like deadlifts.


Your glutes comprise three muscles: gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus. These muscles arise from your pelvis and hip and connect to the thigh bones [3].

Your glutes conduct various activities, including maintaining appropriate posture and functional actions such as jogging and athletic performance.

They aid in any action involving your legs and steer you in the desired direction.

During the kneeling squat, your motions are powered by your glutes. Your glutes assist you in moving your hip forward (hip extension).


A person stretching out her hamstrings

During the kneeling squat, your hamstrings and other muscles work as secondary movers.

The hamstrings are the muscle groups at the back of your leg that begin from the hip and insert into the knee.

These muscles aid in knee flexion, thigh extension, and lateral movement of the lower legs [4].

The hamstrings are also recruited during the hip extension phase of kneeling squats, but to a lower extent than the glutes and quads.

They maintain you steady during the workout.

The lower back

Lower back muscles are a set of muscles that aid in the stabilization, rotation, and extension of your body and spinal column [5].

They may not be that visible throughout the kneeling squat, but they get enough attention to keep them engaged.


People at the gym working out their cores

Any squatting exercise will target your core and abdomen; the kneeling squat is no exception.

Your abs not only complement a good physique, but they additionally stabilize your torso and facilitate mobility.

Your core comprises several of your deep ab muscles and back muscles. The core stabilizes your body, keeps your torso straight, protects your spine, and keeps you safe from injuries [6].

As a result, your core muscles keep you stable during the kneeling squat.

They provide support and keep your body from becoming tense.

Benefits of Kneeling Squat

A person with good leg and core muscles at the gym

"The major advantage of the Kneeling Squat is it is an efficient exercise for activating and strengthening the Glutes. Many individuals want to have big Glutes, and the Kneeling Squat is an excellent technique to get them."

- Stephanie Zaban, Master of Professional Kinesiology

Kneeling squats provide several significant advantages:

  • Kneeling squats help to strengthen the core. When done correctly, kneeling squats assist in increasing upper-body strength by stimulating your abdominal muscles. Your abs aid in stabilizing the lower back and support your entire body during the workout.
  • Kneeling squats help to strengthen the lower body. Kneeling squats are among the greatest squat exercises for gluteus maximus toning. Concentrate on the hip thrust range of motion to promote glute activation and hip extension. Kneeling squats train your hip flexors, quads, adductor magnus, and hamstrings, among other lower-body muscles.
  • Kneeling squats are an easy at-home workout. Kneeling squats do not require any specific equipment. Kneeling squats are an efficient and convenient activity to integrate into your bodybuilding program, whether you work out at the gym or at home.
  • Kneeling squats are versatile. The kneeling squat may be customized in any way you wish. You might attempt the weightless option if you want to take things slowly. Carry out the exercises without using any additional resistance. You can employ weighted plates, barbells, good home gym resistance bands, or even dumbbells to improve your kneeling squat.


Kneeling Squat vs. Regular Squat: The Difference

A coach writing down on a clipboard at the gym

The starting position is the most significant distinction between standard and kneeling squats.

Conventional squats, also called air squats or bodyweight squats, are complex exercises that work muscles all across your body.

They're done standing up, with your knees and ankles bent to lower your torso until your upper feet parallel the ground.

Kneeling squats are done while kneeling and rely heavily on hip flexion to lift and lower your body.

Tips For Performing Your Kneeling Squats

A coach teaching a person at the gym how to do kneeling squats

The kneeling squat may appear an easy workout, but you will need all the assistance you can get when executing it.

As a result, we've included several pointers and indications to watch for when performing the kneeling squat:

  • Don't lean away: When executing the kneeling squat, you may feel inclined to lean to the front or side to make the workout easier. This would disrupt your form and prevent you from activating the appropriate muscles in the posterior chain, particularly your core. Throughout the activity, maintain your head erect and your eyes ahead.
  • Don't use momentum: A typical error first-time kneeling squatters make is sinking or elevating their hips too soon. Using momentum relies on your knees rather than your hips and glutes. This would place undue strain on your knees, resulting in a knee joint injury and worsening an existing knee ailment. During the kneeling squat, engage the glutes and use the hips to accomplish the actions.
  • Choose the proper weight: The kneeling squat's simplicity and reduced range of motion are not an excuse to overburden the muscle groups by lifting too much. This may seem appealing, but it will cause more damage than good. Choosing a large resistance may strain your knees and make it harder to maintain proper form throughout the workout. Instead, select a barbell weight that you can easily control for the number of sets you intend to perform.


What Are Kneeling Squats Good For?

Kneeling squats are good for training and toning your gluteus maximus. Concentrate on the hip thrust motion range to improve glute activation and hip extension.

Are Kneeling Squats Better?

Yes, kneeling squats are better. Compared to a standard squat, kneeling squats are a lighter and safer approach to enhance hip extension under load.

Do Kneeling Squats Burn Belly Fat?

No. Kneeling squats do not specifically burn belly fat. While you can't selectively burn fat from your tummy, squatting burns fat and develops muscle. While squats primarily improve your power and strength, heavy squats enhance lean muscle development, which boosts your capacity to burn calories at rest throughout the day.


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