The barbell squat is a foundational exercise. Nearly everyone should incorporate this exercise into their regular workouts. It incorporates many major muscle groups including the quads, glutes, hamstrings and static contraction of the lower leg. It helps with mobility, stability, balance and posture.
Getting in Position for the Barbell Squat
To perform the barbell squat, first set the bar on a rack that best matches to your height. The bar should be around shoulder height, or slightly lower. When standing the bar typically will be about the height of the chest. Once the bar is loaded up with your desired weight step under the bar and place the back of your shoulders under it. After stepping under the bar, it should ride across the traps. Then lift the bar from the rack by pushing simultaneously with your legs and straightening your torso. Adjust your grip if needed, but keep the bar tight. Step away from the rack and position your legs at a shoulder width. Hands should be positioned right outside of the shoulders. Hands should not be so wide that the elbows flair back. Toes should be pointed slightly out. Keep your head up and all times and maintain a straight back. Keep your elbows down. This will be your starting position.
Inhale and begin slowly lowering the bar. Sit back with your hips as though you were going to sit on a chair. Maintain the arch in your back and keep your head up and you descend. Continue lowering the weight until your hip and knee form a line parallel to the floor. Next, exhale and lift the bar back up to the starting position leading the movement with your head. Pushing against the floor with the heels of your feet as you use your abductors to push your knees out so they stay in alignment with your feet. Do not let your knees go past your toes. During the exercise, keep your eyes focused on the horizon. Do not look up to the ceiling as this will mis-align your spine and could lead to injury.
1- Safety is key. Always have a spotter.
2- Technique is more important than weight. Before you add a lot of weight to the bar, learn the technique correctly first. Start with bodyweight and then add the bar. Practice with the bar to get the technique down.
The barbell squat works primarily the quadriceps.
It also works the calves, glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.