How to do the back squat

The barbell back squat is one of the most beneficial moves you can do in the gym. Follow this guide to make sure you get the most out of it!

Back squat requirements: Bars, dumbbells, and squat rack (or squat rack variant)

Back exercises target every major muscle in your lower body. If you start moving heavy weights, it is considered a full body exercise. Back squats help you:

  • Butt muscles
  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Core
  • Backside
  • Arm
  • Shoulder / Trap
  • Arm

What is Back Squat?

Back squats are a basic lifting used in training programs for almost any sport, from football to strength training. They build lower body strength by allowing you to move heavy objects.

Almost every good trainer or training program will include back squats unless you can’t do them due to injury. They burn large amounts of calories, build muscle, and strengthen the entire lower body.

Benefits of Back Squats

The benefits of this movement are almost endless. Back squats are compound movements, meaning you use multiple joints to do them.

They hit the weights, hamstrings, glutes, back, and core heavily, making them one of the most effective exercises you can do. Squats also help strengthen the joints, ligaments, and tendons around your knees and hips.

The back squat is also known to increase athletic performance in many areas, including sprint time and vertical jump height.

Burn calories

Because back squats work almost every organ in the body, performing them burns a large number of calories. In addition, the increase in hormone production caused by performing squats will help you achieve the desired results faster.

What do squats do?

Most personal trainers will consider squats to be a full-body movement. However, they mainly target the lower body, placing more load on the glutes and glutes.

Muscles working in the back squat
Muscles Worked in Back Squats

Because of how weight is distributed during back squats, they are a great way to build strength and size in the quads and glutes.

Back squat form

If you are a beginner, you should start with bodyweight squats, working your way up to squatting in the cupthen try to squat back.

Take the barbell off the rack, resting it on your back shoulder muscles. Then, take two steps back and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing slightly out.

Keep your spine in alignment by looking at a point on the floor about two meters in front of you, then sit down and lean back as if you were sitting in a chair. Lower until your hip folds are below your knees. Keep your weight on your heels throughout the entire movement.

Form tips

Keep your chin neutral: Choose a point where you will maintain eye contact throughout the movement. Chin down can put your back at risk of rounding, making squats more difficult and leading to injury.

Keep your chest up: Breathe deeply before starting the movement, press your tongue to the roof of your mouth and hold your breath as you lower. Then, as you push the weight back up, remember to exhale. Keeping your chest elevated throughout the movement will allow you to lift more weight and will reduce your risk of spinal cord injury.

Push your elbows forward: Focus on your pads and focus on pushing your elbows forward. As your elbows come back, it encourages your shoulders to rotate inward, making maintaining a neutral spine position a challenge.

Place your knees on your toes: Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and slightly outward. As you push your hips back and bend at the knees, focus on pointing your knees out instead of pushing them forward. This will help keep your knees in line with your toes as you go down and back.

Note: it doesn’t matter if your knees go over your toes, but you don’t want them to turn inward.

Keep your heels steady: Your weight needs to be on your heels and midfoot for the entire movement. Transferring weight to the balls of your feet puts extra pressure on your knees.

How to return to the Squat

This move requires a barbell, barbell, rack, or squat rack, and when the weights are heavier, some kind of fallback to catch the weight if you need a bail. Here is a step-by-step guide to completing the back squat:

  1. Stand in front of the loaded bar and grasp it slightly wider than shoulder width.
  2. Lower your head and shoulders below the bar and push your trap into the bar, pulling the trap in by engaging your lever and pushing your elbow forward.
  3. Align your foot under the bar slightly wider than shoulder width and push through your heel to lift it off the rack. Keep your chest and neck in a neutral position even while lifting off the rack.
  4. Take a step back with each foot, keeping your center of gravity and control of the bar.
  5. Stand with your toes apart between 10:00 and 2:00 and feet slightly wider than your hip distance.
  6. Tighten your core, keeping your spine neutral and your eyes in front.
  7. Inhale into your belly and push your tongue up to the roof of your mouth.
  8. Press your hips back, bend your knees, and push them out, with your heels fixed until your knees and hips reach at least a parallel position (you can lower if you want and have flexibility).
  9. Now reverse the whole movement, exhaling as you push up with your heels, not letting your knees point inward. Keep your center of gravity and your chest high throughout the exercise.
  10. After you’ve completed all the reps you intended, take a step forward with each leg, align the barbell with the rack, and squat to bring the weight back to its holding position.
  11. Note: if you need bail because you can’t lift the weight back or up the rack, always step forward and off the bar while pulling your arm away from it. This will keep you from getting trapped under the weighted bar or injured if you don’t have some sort of backup safety to grasp the bar.

Safety concerns

If you’re not ready for a dumbbell squat, consider starting with body weight squats or goblet squats to familiarize yourself with the movement and build back into the squat over time. Also, if you have knee, neck, hip, or back pain when squatting, consider talking to your doctor about other movements.

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