Barbell Squat

Image of how to squat


Type: Strength

Main Muscle Worked: Quadriceps

Equipment: Barbell or a resistance band

Level: Beginner

What is the Barbell Squat?

Barbell squats take the main part in the training routines of pro bodybuilders, powerlifters, Olympic lifters, footballers and rugby players. There’s really no reason not to include it in your own routine – and no reason you shouldn’t reap the same rewards they do.

It works every major muscle in your lower body and when you start to put a good amount of weight on the bar, it even becomes a full-body workout because you have to brace your core and contract your back muscles to keep your torso in the optimal position.

The benefits are virtually endless as barbell squats are one of the primary compound exercises, meaning that you use more than one joint to perform the exercise. It places a lot of strain on the quads, hamstrings and glutes, making it one of the best value for times exercises known to man. It also strengthens the joints, ligaments and tendons around the knee and hips.

Since the move works so much of the body, performing it burns lots of calories, helping your weight loss goals. It also increases your natural production of testosterone and growth hormones.

There are many variations of the squat such as the body weight squat.

Muscles Worked in the Barbell Squat

Amazing leg workouts
primary: Quadriceps

secondary: Hamstrings, hips  and the Gluteal muscles

Benefits of the Barbell Squat

Many of the benefits are the same as the basic body weight squat.

Simple and highly versatile.

You don’t need any fancy expensive tools or gym equipment to perform barbell squats, all it takes is a basic barbell and squat rack to get the job done. Any standard gym will have this equipment available, and even if you train from home you should be able to get your own setup going fairly easily.

Even if you don’t have access to a squat rack though, there are still a ton of different squat variations available that you can use in place of the barbell squat, such as dumbbell squats, split squats, goblet squats, body weight squats or barbell hack squats just to name a few.

Increases mobility and flexibility.

Full range of motion squats not only add muscle onto your entire lower body, but they also improve overall flexibility and mobility as an added bonus by increasing the range of motion of your ankles, knees, hips and lower back.

This improvement in flexibility and mobility will carry over to many other exercises and regular day to day activities, which further reduces your chances injury and improves overall performance.

Reduces injury risk.

The majority of athletic injuries occur as a result of weak connective tissues, ligaments and stabilizing muscles, and squats help to strengthen all of these smaller structures to give you a stronger and sturdier foundation that is less susceptible to injuries.

Any serious lifter should focus on strengthening both the muscles and the supporting structures as a long term strategy for consistent, injury free training.

To further reduce injury risk, lift heavier weights and support your legs while performing the squat I recommend buying a knee sleeve support band from here: Knee sleeve

Improves core strength.

Throughout an entire squat, the muscles of your core are forced to work extra hard to keep your body upright and to support your lower back.

This improves your overall core strength, which:

– Carries over to improved strength and performance on other compound exercises.
– Protects your lower back from injury.
– Stimulates muscle growth in your abdominals and obliques.

How to do the Barbell Squat

If you need a barbell one can be bought here: Barbells


  1. 1. Set a bar in a rack just below shoulder height and load the weight plates (if you’re new to squatting, start small to get a feel for the exercise, the movement and your current capabilities).
  2. 2. Grab the bar with hands just outside shoulder width, step under and rest the barbell on your back.
  3. 3. Lift the bar off the rack by pushing up with the legs and take a step back from the rack. Set your feet shoulder-width apart, bend at the knees slightly, pull in your lower abs, and set your head in line with your spine, keeping eyes forward.
  4. 4. Once positioned correctly begin the squat by bending at the knees and hips together to lower your body. Keep your heels flat on the floor.
  5. 5. Push yourself back up to the starting position the same way you descended.

Repeat the desired reps

Mistakes commonly made in the Barbell Squat

Too Narrow

Having a too narrow of a stance during the barbell squat places more stress on the ligament in the knee which can cause injuries. Though a wider stance decreases stress which also means less chance of injuries.

Looking down or up

You should keep looking straight ahead as looking down or up can actually put your neck in an unsafe position and could result in injuries.

Position of Knees

You should also not allow your knees to extend beyond your toes. The knees should also be in line with the toes rather than angled to either side.

Bar on the Spine

When performing the barbell squat the bar should be on your shoulders, not on your spine. If it’s on your spine, it is too high and should be moved onto your shoulders immediately.

Bent Back

It is important that when performing the barbell squat that you should keep your back straight and brace your abs throughout the exercise instead of performing with a rounded back and careless abs.

Safety when performing Barbell Squats

You should talk to your doctor or physical therapist if you have had a previous injury or condition involving your ankles, knees, legs, hips, or back to see if this exercise is suitable for you.

If you feel any pain during the exercise, slowly lower the weights and end the exercise. Only use a weight you can press with good form for 10 reps.

Squatting can cause a lot of strain and stress on the knees even if you have had no history of knee problems. You can change this by changing your foot placement, using a wider stance decreases the stress on the knee while a narrower stance significantly increases stress. However the angle of the foot does not affect the stress on the knees.

Variations of the Barbell Squat

Barbell squat with resistance band

Barbell squats are the most well-rounded lower body powerlifting exercises there is. Powerlifting bands are a highly effective training tool due to the ascending resistance — meaning that the load gets incrementally heavier throughout your range of motion as you push. The exercise bands give you less resistance at the bottom when your muscles have less force and the more resistance while you ascend as your muscles give more force.

If you need a resistance band a high quality one can be purchased from here: Resistance band

Best squat variations

  1. 1. Fasten two bands to two low lying anchor points on either side of the rack. Anchor points can consist of heavy dumbbells, rack pins, or the rack itself.
  2. 2. Insert the top ends onto either side of the barbell.
  3. 3. Slowly lower yourself into a squat and then press up back to starting position as you feel the gradual increase of the exercise band’s ascending resistance.


If your feet are close together with the toes pointing straight ahead you will develop your outer thighs – the vastus lateralis.

By performing barbell squats with your feet wide apart and your toes pointed out at a wider angle, you will develop your inner thighs (adductors) and the front of your thighs (vastus medialis).

Having your feet wider apart than your shoulders is known to activate your quads as effectively as a more standard narrower stance. However, a wider stance works more muscles.

Write below in the comments your opinion on the barbell squat, if it works for you and any questions you might have.

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