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Kneeling Squat [ Exercise Guide]

kneeling squat

The squat is one of the best exercises you can perform. But many people don’t know how to squat correctly or lack the proper mechanics in hips, knees, or ankles. If you have problems in one of the mentioned areas, the kneeling squat is just what the doctor ordered. Read on to know about the correct technique, muscles involved, exercise variations, and more.

What Is A Kneeling Squat

The kneeling squat is probably the most sparing exercise for the lower body muscles. If for any reason, you can’t perform regular squats, the kneeling squat will help you achieve your desired results without pain or risk of injury. 

The exercise is characterized by a simple technique, efficiency, and the presence of many variations. Thus, the kneeling squat can be performed with different foot positions, dumbbells, bands, etc. To target the glutes, a kneeling squat is a fantastic choice. This exercise may help you build greater squatting and deadlifting strength and a round, firm buttock.

What Muscles Does Kneeling Squat Work

The target muscles are the gluteus maximus and quadriceps femoris. The movement is through the hip joint. Don’t bend the torso forward if your aim is to strengthen the knee extensor’s muscles and not to work on the gluteus maximus. Quadriceps, gluteus, adductor magnus, and hamstrings are all muscles that work during this exercise.

Depending on the internal and external rotation level you choose, you target different fibers in the quadriceps group. You can play around with the foot position to load other fibers. For instance, by putting your ankles outside of the knees, you can emphasize the vastus medialis – the most medial of the quadriceps group. And with legs externally rotated, you can target the vastus lateralis.

How to Perform Kneeling Squat 

To avoid the pressure on your knees, put a mat on the floor. You can also exercise directly on the sofa, bed, or any other soft surface.

Step 1. Take the starting position

As the name implies, you need to get into the kneeling position for the kneeling squat. Stand on your knees in a tall kneeling position. Place your knees hip-width apart. Your pelvis should be in retroversion. Tuck the pelvis underneath, keep the chin tucked and the head up. Look down toward the floor.

Step 2. Sit down 

Sit down onto your calves, maintaining a neutral spine. To avoid common mistakes while exercising, keep your back straight. It’s crucial to maintain a neutral lumbar spine. The thing is, the fully flexed spine is associated with strain on posterior passive tissues and high shearing forces on the lumbar spine.

Step 3. Return to the starting position

Keep the head, feet, and back position unchanged. Come up. Ensure you initiate the movement with your pelvis. Ideally, you should feel the gluteal and thigh muscles working.

Advantages of A Kneeling Squat

Speaking of kneeling squat benefits, the first thing to mention is convenience. There is no need for equipment to practice this exercise. The kneeling squat can be done at home, in the gym, and elsewhere. The exercise is suitable for all, regardless of age, gender, and fitness level.

Kneeling squats strengthen the lower body. Undoubtedly, it’s the finest way to tone your glutes and hip flexors. The best way to improve glute activation and hip extension is to concentrate on the hip thrust range of motion.

One more advantage is squats done while kneeling strengthen the core and help you work on your stability. The exercise also aids in developing upper-body strength by engaging the abdomen muscles.

5 Kneeling Squat Alternatives

If you want to build dynamic, powerful legs without too much time and effort, these kneeling squat variations might be helpful. Give them a try, see which one is your weak one. And that is going to be the one you need the most.

Hip Banded Kneeling Squat

This alternative exercise mostly targets the glutes. So if you want to focus on gluteus maximus and gluteus medius, hip banded kneeling squat should be part of your workout routine.

How to do:

  1. To perform this exercise, you are going to need a band or tied jump rope. One more essential thing is a column, a wall bar, furniture legs, or any other object to which you can attach your elastic band. 
  2. When the band is fixed, get in the loop, kneel, and place the band slightly below the hips, in line with the gluteus.
  3. Step away to create tension in the band area. Put your feet flat on the floor.
  4. Squeeze your core and drive your hips back behind you in a hinge motion.
  5. Come up to the starting position, avoiding back hyperextension.

Feeling a nice stretch in your glutes is a sign you are doing everything correctly.

Barbell Kneeling Squat

Adding some weight to the kneeling squat can make the exercise more effective, increasing muscle load. This variation is suitable for athletes with a middle fitness level. The target muscle group doesn’t change: quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings. 

How to do:

  1. Make sure you have some padding on the floor not to hurt your knees. 
  2. Kneel, keeping your legs shoulder-width apart. 
  3. Place the bar on top or behind your shoulders. The bar should be snug across your back with your shoulders retracted.
  4. Go down, keeping your core straight and your head looking forward.
  5. Squeeze your glutes to return to the starting position.

Inhale as you go down and exhale as you come up. The glutes should be the main driving factor that pushes the hips up.

Booty Band Kneeling Squat

This exercise variation is one more way to focus on your glutes and hamstrings. The booty band helps to create extra resistance and focus on keeping the knees spread. That constant tension makes the glutes work better.

How to do:

  1. Get down on your knees and put on a booty band. Legs should be shoulders wide.
  2. Gently descend, feeling the tension in the muscles of the thighs and buttocks.
  3. Get back in the starting position.

Glute Bridge

The glute bridge is both tough and effective. Regardless of your age or fitness level, it’s a wonderful complement to any training plan. The hamstrings and glutes are the focus of this exercise.

How to do:

  1. Starting position – lying on the back, knees bent, feet on the floor 12 to 16 inches from your butt. Hands – along the body, palms down. 
  2. Push off the floor, lifting your hips to the ceiling. 
  3. Stay in this position for a few seconds. 
  4. Gently lower your hips to the starting position.

One of the main advantages of this exercise is the absence of stress on the knee joints. Also, it works best for beginners. 

Resistance Band Squat

This exercise option is suitable for those who want to work out the muscles of the arms and legs simultaneously. It also will satisfy people who don’t find simple squats challenging enough. 

How to do:

  1. Start with standing on your knees. Put a fair band under your feet and get the band’s ends in your hands.
  2. Sit back on your heels.
  3. Bend your elbows, keeping them pointed forward. Repeat 3-5 times.
  4. Go up to kneeling without bending backward.
  5. Straighten your elbows feeling resistance and tension in your arms muscles.
  6. Return to the starting position.


Do kneeling squats do anything?

Unfortunately, no. Kneeling squats strengthen the lower body. It works best for the gluteus and quadriceps. It’s an unloaded but still very functional movement with minimal tension on your knees.

Are kneeling squats better than squats?

If done incorrectly or with inadequate technique, ordinary squats, or even more advanced variations like split squats or cossack squats may cause significant harm. Kneeling squat is an easier and safer method of building lower body strength. You may use the standard squat to work your whole body since it is a compound exercise. When you do kneeling squats, you lower and elevate your body primarily via hip flexion.

What are the benefits of kneeling squats?

When you kneel, you use the core muscles, avoid slouching, and minimize the dangers of overloading your knees. The kneeling squat is often recommended to people with injuries for getting a full knee flexion back. 


Kneeling squat is an effective exercise available to everyone. And this is not an exaggeration. The kneeling squat can be practiced anywhere, with any fitness level. Many people claim that an ordinary squat does not suit them because of “bad knees”. It is impossible to say this about kneeling squats because the exercise minimizes the strain on the knee joints.

The target muscle group includes the quadriceps, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings. Kneeling squats also aid in strengthening and stabilizing the core and lower back, which is essential for overall health. The load on different muscle groups can be varied, giving preference to different types of exercise. Many variations, both with and without additional equipment, make it possible to choose an exercise for individual training goals.