Kneeling Squat – Complete Exercise Guide

If you want to add something new to your leg workouts, then kneeling squats can be the right bet for you. The squat is one of the most popular exercises today but only some percent of people know about this underrated variation of squats which is kneeling squats.

In this article, we are gonna look at – what kneeling squats are, how to perform them, their benefits, alternatives, muscles worked, and more. Keep Reading!

What are kneeling squats?

Kneeling squats is a variation of squats that puts less stress on the knees while still training the main muscles of the lower body. It is generally performed by those who have knee or some tendon issues as it is also performed as a rehabilitation exercise.

Kneeling squat is a very versatile exercise as it can be done anywhere. You can either perform it with your body weight or you can also add some weight in the form of barbells, dumbbells, or kettlebells.

If you want to train and grow your leg muscles without putting too much pressure on your knees then kneeling squat is one of the perfect exercises to perform.

How to perform kneeling squats?

kneeling squats

Step-By-Step Instructions

Now that you know what kneeling squats are, here’s how to perform them with perfect form.

  • Step 1: Start by kneeling down with both knees on the exercise mat with your toes touching the ground. Keep your upper body straight and make sure your head and neck are in the neutral position
  • Step 2: Hold your hands in front of your body as it will help in balancing. Engage your core and make sure your upper body is upright.
  • Step 3: Now start lowering those hips down slowly in a controlled motion and rest your thighs on your calves.
  • Step 4: Now come back up till full extension of your pelvis, your hips should be aligned with your knees, pause for a sec and squeeze your glutes.
  • Step 5: Now repeat the movement till the desired number of sets and reps. 

Video Guide

Some common mistakes while performing kneeling squats

Here are some common mistakes you need to avoid while performing kneeling squats.

1.  Dropping quickly

When going downward while performing the kneeling squats it’s important to not drop too quickly. Dropping too quickly will lessen the time your muscles are under tension and hence you will not be able to make the most out of the exercise.

The exercise is specifically good for those with knee issues but dropping too quickly in the downward motion will put more pressure on your knees.

If you are not able to perform the exercise in a controlled motion then this can be a sign that your leg muscles are weak. So, it is recommended to lower your weights or perform this exercise with your body weight only.

2. Hinging forward

Hinging too much forward and not being able to maintain an upright position can be a sign of a weak core. You should make sure to keep your upper body upright while performing the whole movement.

Hinging forward can make you unbalanced and affect your movement. If you are unable to maintain an upright position, try practicing exercises that strengthen the core.

3. Overloading too much

The exercise might look easy and that’s why people usually overload while performing this exercise. By overloading too much you will not be able to perform this exercise in a controlled motion and your form might also become worse. 

Although overloading while performing any exercise is bad, if you are performing kneeling squats as a rehabilitation exercise then overloading can be a very big mistake.

Are kneeling squats effective?

Kneeling squats are great exercise for your glutes and also for other leg muscles. It can also help to improve your normal squats. This exercise is also used as a rehabilitation exercise for those who are recovering from a knee or tendon injury.

Whether your goal is to increase lower body strength, grow your leg muscles or recover from an injury kneeling squats are an amazing exercise for your lower body.

Related: Reverse Squats – Complete Exercise Guide

What muscles do kneeling squats work?

Kneeling squats mainly work muscles in the legs, abdominal muscles, and some other back muscles. Here are the main muscles in the leg that kneeling squats work.  


Kneeling squats is most effective at targeting the glute muscles. The glute muscle is a combination of three muscles, the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus.

Kneeling squats turn out to be a great exercise to target all of them and if you are looking to grow your butt then it is an exercise you should definitely try.


Hamstring muscles are located at the posterior parts of the thighs. The hamstring muscles help in hip extension and knee flexion. 

While performing kneeling squats hamstring muscles are activated during both upward and downward motion. Even though hamstring muscles might be smaller than the quadriceps muscles they still play a prominent role in kneeling squats.


Quadriceps muscles are located at the front of your thighs. The quadriceps muscles help in the extension of the knee.

The quadriceps muscle also plays an important role in kneeling squats as it helps to stabilize the movement and also provides the force to complete the movement.

Related: Primal Squat – Complete Exercise Guide

Kneeling squats benefits – What are kneeling squats good for?

Here are some of the benefits of kneeling squats.

Good for glutes

Kneeling squats is one of the best exercises for glute activation. It can activate the glute muscles more than normal squats.

Having stronger glute muscles can also be very helpful to you in some other exercises like deadlifts or sumo squats.

So, if you looking to build the glute muscles and strengthen them then kneeling squat is an exercise you should add to your routine.

Improvement in stability and balance

Kneeling squats need to be performed with an engaged core and in a controlled motion. In most of the exercises where core muscles are involved balance and stability are required.

Thus, performing kneeling squats regularly will help improve your balance and stability. Also, when compared to standard squats kneeling squats might involve better engagement of the core and hence improves balance and stability.

Athletic and strength benefits

As kneeling squats require balance, stability, and power to perform. Athletes who are involved in certain sports that also require balance, stability, and power might benefit from doing kneeling squats.

Kneeling squats is also a great exercise to build strength and muscle to perform harder and more complex movements. It can help you provide a base for you to be able to do harder and more complex movements in the future.

Good for knee injury rehabilitation

The above video explains how to do kneeling squats as a rehabilitation exercise.

Along with the benefits kneeling squats can provide for your glute muscles, it is also famous for knee injury rehabilitation. 

Kneeling squats do not put much stress on the knees and also help in regaining the strength of the knees and muscles around the knees after an injury. It can help strengthen your glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings muscles recovering from an injury. 

Beginner Friendly

Kneeling squats is an extremely beginner-friendly exercise. When performing normal squats beginners are at a very high risk of getting a knee injury and kneeling squats can help them avoid that. Even if a beginner, unfortunately, suffers a knee injury kneeling squats can turn out to be great rehab exercise.

As mentioned above kneeling squats also help in building the base for more harder and complex exercises, hence it can be extremely helpful for beginners. 

Kneeling squats are very helpful as they can also be performed anywhere since most beginners start at the home and not everyone has access to the gym.

Related: How Many Squats A Day To Lose Belly Fat?

What are some alternatives to kneeling squats? 

Here are some alternatives to kneeling squats that can work the same muscles and also in somewhat the same kind of ways as kneeling squats.

Hip Thrusts

hip thrusts

The hip thrust is just another great exercise for your glutes and hamstrings muscles. It is also good for someone with knee issues.

To perform this exercise, begin by sitting on the ground with your upper back against something strong usually a box, a bench, or a couch. 

Your feet should be flat on the ground with at least a shoulder-width distance between them.

Now push and drive the heels upwards until your hips are parallel to the ground.  Pause for a sec at the top and lower back down slowly. 

You might want to use some weights while performing this exercise as the bodyweight version might feel easier for some people.

Bodyweight Squats

bodyweight squats

The bodyweight squat is one of the most common and also a beginner-friendly exercise. It is very adaptable and can be done anywhere. It is good for beginners as it can help them in building initial lower body strength which can be useful for them to perform harder exercises in the future.

To perform this exercise, stand with your legs shoulder width apart with your hands either joined or raised parallel to the ground in front of the body as it can help stabilize the movement.

Now engage your core, and leg muscles and start to lower down. When going downwards make sure your knees do not drop forward too much, try to keep them aligned with your toes.

Try to lower down at least till your legs make a 90-degree angle. You might want to go a little more deeper if you have the strength to do so.

Glute Bridge

glute bridge

The glute bridge is somewhat similar to the hip thrusts with the only difference being that you lay down with your back on the ground. As the name suggests, this exercise is great at targeting the glute muscles, so if you are looking to build your glute muscles this could be a good alternative to kneeling squats.

To perform this exercise, lay down with your back on the floor, with your knees bent and feet shoulder-width apart and flat to the ground.

Now from here drive your hips upwards, engage your core, and squeeze the glutes. Pause for a moment at the top and then start lowering down.

At the top, your body should make a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Make sure to avoid arching your back as you go upwards as this might lead to back injuries.

The Lunge


The lunge is another common leg exercise and can train the main muscles of the leg. The bodyweight version of the lunge can be useful to beginners while if you are an intermediate or advanced then you might want to use some weight. This exercise also turns out to be a good alternative for kneeling squats as it trains the same muscle groups.

To perform this exercise, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then step forward with one leg and bend both knees. 

Lower down until your knees make 90-degree angles. At the bottom position, your backward knee should face the ground while the knee in front should be parallel to the ground.

Now push back up and repeat till the desired number of sets and reps with both legs.

If you want more glute activation while performing this exercise then you should keep your upper body straight and upright, but if you wish more quad activation then you may want to lean forward slightly with your upper body.

Related: Lumberjack Squat: Complete Exercise Guide


Kneeling squats is an amazing exercise with many benefits that you can do without putting much stress on your knees. It can help you get better glute activation than many other lower-body exercises. 

It is also used as a rehabilitation exercise for those who are recovering from a knee injury as it can help you build some muscle and strengthen some muscles and tendons around the knees.

In the end kneeling squats turns out to be a great lower-body exercise, just make sure to perform them with the correct form and see the benefits.

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