What Muscles Do Squats Work?

What Muscles Do Squats Work?

When we think about lower body exercises, one of the first exercises that come to mind is the squat! This move has been around forever and for good reason- it strengthens your glutes, core, and lower back, improves joint health when done properly and corrects the posture.

Muscles Worked in A Squat

Your backside has 3 different muscles:

- the Maximus, the biggest muscle of them all, helps you whenever you're doing the movement of squatting to bring yourself up the

- the second muscle that is used is your Hamstrings which itself consists of 3 different muscles:

  • biceps femoris that kind of runs on the inside of the thigh
  • semimembranosus which runs in the middle and the back of the thigh and
  • semitendinosus which works on the side of the thigh

Another muscle used is your Quadriceps (which in literal translation means four muscles) and is present in the front of the thigh. It can be broken down to

  • Vastas medialis which is your teardrop muscle
  • Rectus femoris which goes from the hip down to the knee
  • Vastus intermedius and your Vastus lateralis which is in the middle and on the outside of the thigh.

There are some additional muscles that end up reaping the benefit of a squat:


When you move your hips backward, your ankle flexes and your shins move forward. The soleus muscle (small calf muscle) brings the shin to a vertical position as you get up from the squat.


When your hips move backward, your torso leans forward to maintain form and prevent injury. The more you lean forward, the more your spine muscles are activated in keeping your back straight, while your abdominal and oblique muscles balance the pull of the spine to keep you stable.

 All in all, the squat is a compounded lower body move as it demands collective movement at all the primary joints, including hips, knees, and ankles.

The third muscle being used is your quadricep which is in front of the thigh. Teardrop muscle as well as your rectus femoris which goes through the muscle from the hip and down to the knee and your vestas intermedius and your vestas leterus which is in the middle and on the outside of the thigh. 

How To Do A Basic Squat

But of course, all the above muscles are only engaged when you do the squat right. The squats are also one of the most incorrectly performed exercises!  So here's a quick tutorial on how to get the squat right:

  1. Start with your legs hip-width apart, feet pointing forward and a tightened core
  2. Stretch your arms in front of you
  3. Push your hips backward as if you were sitting in a chair
  4. Go as low as possible with your thighs parallel to the ground and knee going behind the toes and stand all the way back up again
  5. And repeat!

You can repeat this movement as much as possible and also add resistance, using dumbbells, kettlebells or a barbell to up the difficulty level.

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