Barbell Back Squat

Exercise Summary
Primary Muscle(s) QuadsGlutes
Secondary Muscle(s) HamstringsAbdominalsAbductorsAdductors
Equipment Barbell
Emphasis Compound
Type Squat

Barbell Squat Instructions

  • Be in a strong athletic position: knees flexed, core and glutes activated, chest up, and shoulders back. 
  • Get underneath the bar, placing it on your traps.
  • Have your hands outside shoulder-width in a position where you can create torque in your shoulders. You want to keep your shoulders pinned back. The equates to a strong upper back position.
    • The bar does not sit loosely on your back.
    • Imagine pulling your elbows under the bar with your chest up and shoulders back.
  • You want your torso in a strong, vertical position. 
    • Chest up and eyes fixed straight ahead.
  • Unrack the bar and step back one foot at a time. 
  • Place your feet just outside shoulder-width with your toes pointed out slightly. 
    • Stance will vary depending on the person.
  • To create stability in your hips, screw your feet into the floor and push your knees out.
  • Push your hips back slightly and descend into the bottom position. 
  • When the crease of your hips reach level with your knee, accelerate back up. 
  • Continue to push your knees out and maintain your core tightness.
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top position. 


  • The barbell back squat takes time and many reps to solidify technique.
  • Practice, practice, practice before you load up the barbell with heavy weight.
  • Always look straight ahead, never look directly up or down. You want to maintain a neutral neck position. 
  • Don't overextend/arch your back. Focus on core tightness and a neutral spine.
  • In the bottom position, imagine driving your chest up into the bar. 
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