Squats (Barbell Back Squats)

squatFew exercises can set off heated arguments from a mere discussion, and squats are one of them.

The back squat is one of the 3 competition lifts in powerlifting, which also include the deadlift and bench press.

The back squat is one of the most difficult and rewarding exercises you can perform in a weight room. If performed properly barbell back squats are not only a great exercise for the legs, but also the glutes, lower back, and core.

Since back squats put a lot of compressive forces on the lumbar spine and require full energy stores to get the most benefit, they should be performed at the beginning of your workout.

More about the Correct Form of Back Squats

You could write a 100 page instructional guide about squat form but as long as you know the basics you can benefit from squats while staying injury free. The most basic form tips for squats are as follows:

  1. Sit back into the squat (slight anterior pelvic tilt before you bend your knees)
  2. Keep your back tight & in neutral alignment
  3. Keep your knees in line with your toes
  4. Keep your knees from traveling forward past your toes
  5. Keep your weight off your toes

There are exceptions to these general form tips for advanced sqatters but for the most part, if you keep your form tight by following the previous tips, you will stay injury free and be able to get the most benefit from squats. It is also important to consider, that whether or not you can use impeccable squat form is largely going to depend on your muscle balance. If you cannot keep proper alignment, excessively arch your back, experience pain in your shoulders, etc. you should go back to the drawing board and fix what is wrong with corrective stretches, strengthening weak accessory muscles or whatever.

Safety Considerations with Barbell Back Squats

If there is a single exercise that you should use a weight belt for squats are it. This is especially the case if you are using heavy weights. Contrary to popular belief, a weight belt does not "support the back" directly. What a weight belt does is create an artificially strong core by pressing against the abdominal cavity. This also increases intra-abdominal pressure and together your artificially strong core is what supports your lower back. Even with a weight belt, you can easily get injured while performing squats. As a rule of thumb, if anything doesn't feel right, and we're not talking about general muscle fatigue stop and rack the weight, figure out what is wrong and either try again or move on to another exercise.

squat legs workout exercise videosEquipment Needed

Barbell & Squat Rack


Glutes, Hamstrings, Quadriceps


Lower Back (Erector Spinae)

Primary Stabilizers



More Leg Exercise Videos to Compliment Squats.

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