To add or not to add weights. What’s the right way to do squats?

Squats are a wonderful way to tone the leg muscles, improve strength, and improve mobility. But, should you do them with weights or without?
deadlift for weight loss
Lift weights the right way! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Grace Bains Published: 6 Sep 2021, 17:00 pm IST
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Exercising has become a major challenge, since the Covid-19 hit the world last year. People are finding it extremely difficult to maintain the intensity of their workouts, and progress towards muscle gains. This is especially true, when it comes to working-out the lower body parts.

One of the most optimal ways to tone the lower body parts such as legs, glutes and butt, squats!

As per research published by ‘Journal of Sports Science & Medicine’, squats are regarded as one of the most effective exercises. It helps enhance athletic performance, strengthen the muscles in the legs, including the quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings, and strengthen the knee joint. The research also highlighted that squats are a great way to burn fat, promote weight loss.
strengthen the lower back, and improve flexibility in the lower body.

While body weight squats are an amazing home workout, adding weights to the squats will help tone the abdomen as well, and add definition to your muscles.

Without a doubt, squats rule the fitness world! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Deciding whether to add weights to the squats or not

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind:

Improves strength: Depending on your fitness level, and endurance, adding weights in the form of dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell, will pave your way to build strength of your muscles. Resistance will compel you to exert harder than usual, and this will gradually transpire into improvement in strength levels.

Add buld: Body weight squats, regardless of the variations, will not help add bulk and mass to your leg muscles. Hence, adding resistance in the form of weights, will help you progressively increase the load on your muscles, and increase its size.

Muscle growth: Body weight squats do not provide the same caloric burn, and muscle exhaustion for hypertrophy (muscle growth), as adding weights would. Hence, by merely adding even light weights, you would be on your journey to muscle growth.

Injuries: Injuries mostly happen because of incorrect posture, that ends up targeting the wrong muscle group. However, the severity of injuries may be increased, if you are using weights while doing squats. This happens, due to added pressure on your muscles and joints, over and above the body weight.

Goals: Not everyone is looking to bulk up, and some of you may want to actually lean down your leg muscles. This is where doing bodyweight squats, focusing on a high number of repetitions, would do the trick!


Keep an idea of your risk of weight-related issues.

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You must consider different factors when adding weights to your squats. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

While squats come in many variants, from simple, sumo to goblet, ensure to:

Step 1: Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, place your arms down at your sides (you can add weights by holding kettlebells or dumbbells) .

Step 2: Tighten your abdominal core, keep your chest up, and look straight.

Step 3: To perform the basic movement, bend your knees and push your hips back as if you are going to sit in a chair.

Step 4: When your thighs are parallel to the floor, pause and then push back up to your starting position.

Step 5: Thrust back up to the starting position.

So, there is no right or wrong answer, when it comes to adding weights to your squats. Rather, the decision is dependent on your fitness goals, endurance levels, and bodily strength. Targeting the right muscle groups is the key here, which can be achieved through practice and focussing on the correct posture and flow of movements.

From a safety perspective, ensure that you have warmed up before you start squatting, as stretching will loosen up your muscles, increase your range of motion, and help prevent injuries.

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About the Author

Grace is someone who likes writing enough to make a living out of it. When she isn’t writing, you will find her having chai and reading a book. ...Read More

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