Master the Air Squat – The Cornerstone of CrossFit®

Written By Charleh Knighton  |  Beginners 

Today, we're delving into one of the most elemental moves in the CrossFit® world: the air squat. If you've been feeling like your squatting mechanics are a bit wonky or your knees are wobbling all over the place, fear not. This article aims to unravel the nuances of the air squat and set you on the right path to squatting perfection.

The Significance of the Air Squat

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of air squatting, let's take a moment to appreciate the fundamental importance of this movement.

Squatting is something we all do in our daily lives, whether it's sitting on a chair, getting up from the couch, or using the toilet.

It's a movement we learn from a young age, and as we grow older, maintaining its integrity is crucial for our independence and well-being.

Perfecting the Air Squat Mechanics

The air squat is the cornerstone of many other CrossFit® exercises. When executed correctly, it's not just a squat; it's a building block for strength, mobility, and overall performance. Let's break down the key elements that define a proper air squat:

Foot Position

The orientation of your feet plays a significant role in your air squat. For beginners, it's recommended to start with your feet pointed straight ahead.

As you gain experience, your unique anatomy may lead to a natural squat position with slightly outward-turned feet. The key is to ensure your knees are tracking correctly and your ankles are stable and upright.

Hip Movement:

Initiate the air squat by pushing your hips back. This movement is critical for ensuring you have the necessary range of motion to perform a proper squat.

Starting with your knees moving forward can lead to poor form and decreased effectiveness.

Knees and Toes:

As you descend into the squat, your knees should track just outside your toes. This alignment is vital to maintain proper ankle positioning and prevent ankle collapse.

It's essential to remember that the knees can be in front of the toes, as long as the weight remains balanced on the mid to posterior part of your foot.


Throughout the squat, strive to keep your weight evenly distributed across your entire foot. A common mistake is to concentrate on keeping your weight in your heels, but true balance should span the entire foot.

Master the Air Squat The Cornerstone of CrossFit

Squatting Drills to Polish Your Technique

If you find it challenging to maintain the right air squat mechanics, there are some drills you can employ to fine-tune your form:

Sit to Stand or Box Squat:

Begin by standing in front of a box or bench. Sit all the way down to the box, making sure your knees and feet maintain the desired position.

After a brief pause, stand back up. This exercise emphasizes the upward movement before perfecting the descent.

Squat Therapy:

In this drill, grab a counterbalance, like a kettlebell or dumbbell, and hold it in front of you. As you squat down, keep your chest upright and your knees tracking correctly. The counterbalance helps you find equilibrium and improves your squat's patterns.

The Feet Position Predicament

The debate about the ideal foot position for air squats can be perplexing. Some argue for perfectly straight feet, while others lean toward a slight outward turn.

The ultimate decision depends on individual factors, such as anatomy and comfort. For newcomers, attempting to squat with feet pointed straight ahead is an excellent starting point.

However, as you gain more experience, your personal squatting style may involve a gentle outward turn.

To Summarize

The air squat is a foundational movement that paves the way for numerous exercises in CrossFit® and other physical activities. Perfecting its mechanics is crucial for building strength, and enhancing mobility.

By focusing on foot positioning, hip movement, knee tracking, and maintaining balance, you can elevate your air squat to an art form.

Remember that practice is the key to mastery, and drills like sit to stand and squat therapy can help you refine your technique.

Whether you're a veteran CrossFit® athlete or just beginning your fitness journey, the air squat is a fundamental movement that can't be ignored.

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