Best Guide to the Curtsy Squat (Benefits, Technique and Mistakes)

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about the Curtsy Squat.

What is the Curtsy Squat?

A curtsy squat is a variation of the squat that targets the inner thighs and glutes. It gets its name from the traditional curtsy greeting, where you bow your head and bend one knee behind you.

In this exercise, you do a regular squat as you bend both knees to lower your body towards the floor. Then, instead of standing back up, step one leg diagonally behind your body and lower into a curtsy position on that leg.

You can perform curtsy squats with just your bodyweight to start out. If they feel too easy, try holding light dumbbells or a barbell in front of your chest to make them more challenging.

What Muscles Does the Curtsy Squat Work?

The curtsy squat is an exercise that sculpts and strengthens your legs, especially your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.

The curtsy squat is also great for strengthening and stabilizing your core.

Curtsy Squat Benefits

Curtsy squats are a great exercise to incorporate into your fitness routine because it targets each major muscle group in your legs.

The main muscles groups the curtsy squat targets are the quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves.

The curtsy squat is a low impact exercise, with little room for error which makes it a great exercise for beginners and those who are uncomfortable with high impact leg exercises. It’s also a great alternative to lunges because of its low-impact nature.

You can do curtsy squats anywhere – in the gym, at home or on vacation!

They don’t require any fancy equipment so you can add them as an extra warm up or cool down when you’re doing other workouts like running or yoga. While this move looks simple enough there’s some definite benefits to adding them to your workouts.

How to do Curtsy Squat

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then step your right foot behind your left leg and bend your knees, lowering yourself into a lunge position.
  • Your left knee should be bent at a 90-degree angle and your right knee should be just above the floor. Keep your hips square to the front and don’t let them rotate. Ensure that the knee of your extended leg doesn’t extend past that foot.
  • Pause for one second, then slowly press through the heel of your left foot to return to standing position.
  • Repeat in the other direction.
  • Both legs count as a single rep.

Curtsy Squat Technique Tips

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of this exercise.

  • Keep your chest lifted and your back straight. Brace your core by contracting it as if you’re about to be punched in the stomach, which will also help maintain good posture.
  • As you lower into a curtsy squat, move your right leg back and to the left, keeping it angled at 45 degrees. This is what gives this exercise its name because it mimics a curtsy movement made when greeting someone in an elegant or formal manner, like royalty or nobility. When done correctly, the right leg’s movement should be similar to that of a reverse lunge.
  • Be sure to keep the majority of your weight on your front heel so that you’re engaging more glute muscle throughout the movement. If you prefer performing squats with less weight on your heels, shifting more toward the front of your feet can help engage different areas of muscle than would sitting back on your heels during squats more often performed with weights instead of just bodyweight (such as barbell squats).
  • As you push through your front heel for balance and power to raise up from a squatting position, make sure to squeeze both glutes at the top of each rep for even greater toning and definition results from doing curtsy squats. To make sure you have proper form during this move: * Do not allow either knee to cave inward as you perform each rep: Make sure both knees stay aligned over toes throughout each repetition until all sets are completed for one side before switching legs.

Curtsy Squat Mistakes

Make sure you aren’t making any of these errors.

Not Squatting Low Enough

A lot of athletes aren’t sure how deep they should squat, and as a result, they end up only going halfway down. Don’t be afraid to squat low! The lower you go, the better the glute activation. Just make sure your knees don’t move forward past your toes at any point during the movement.

CrossFit-Bodyweight-Workouts curtsy squatSource: Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc

Not Driving through the Heels

It’s very common for people to raise onto their toes once they reach the bottom of the squat position. This is bad because it puts unnecessary stress on your knees, and it also takes tension off of your glutes (which are what we’re trying to work).

Keep pushing through your heels as you drive up from the bottom position!

Who Should Do the Curtsy Squat?

People with tight hips and hamstrings may want to skip the curtsy squat. It can put a lot of stress on those areas of your body, which may cause pain or injury if you don’t have the flexibility to do the exercise correctly.

If you’re new to strength training, work up to doing this exercise by using lighter weights. With practice, you’ll gain strength and improve your technique.

Curtsy Squat Alternatives

Lateral Lunge

The lateral lunge is a great lower-body exercise, especially for people with weak knees. The key to this exercise is to keep your back straight and chest up while you sit into the lunge. To perform this move: Stand with feet hip-width apart and reach your hands out in front of you (a). Step your right leg out to the side, bending your knee and sitting back until your left thigh is nearly parallel to the floor (b). Return to starting position and repeat on the other side.

Sumo Squat

Sumo squats are a good alternative for those looking for an additional challenge. Also known as plié squats, these target both inner thighs and glutes. To perform this move: Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart and toes turned out (a). Sit hips back into a squat position as low as possible (b). Keep chest up as you return to starting position.

Are Bodyweight Squats Good?

  • Building lower body strength can help prevent injuries, improve posture, and increase your walking speed. The squat is a challenging exercise that’s important to include in your daily routine; however, it can be hard to find the perfect time to practice at home. If you want to make squats part of your daily routine but don’t have access to an area with squat racks in your home gym, you can use bodyweight squats at any time during the day.
  • Did you know that doing squats every day activates muscles that are usually dormant? For example, the gluteus maximus (the “butt muscle”) is usually inactive because of tight hip flexors and weak hip stabilizers; however, when this muscle is activated by doing a regular series of bodyweight squats every day for just one minute each for five days in a row, it develops strength and gains mobility through better coordination with other muscles in the leg. Not only does this benefit you physically; it improves your overall sense of well-being as well!

Learn More

Try the Inverted Row or Barbell Hip Thrust.

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