Barbell Back Squat

Exercise / Quadriceps

Barbell Back Squat overview

The Barbell Back Squat is a fundamental compound exercise that targets the lower body, primarily working the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. It is a cornerstone in strength training and powerlifting, contributing to overall lower body strength, muscle development, and functional fitness. Explore the specifications, step-by-step instructions, and variations to optimize the benefits of the Barbell Back Squat in your training routine.

The Barbell Back Squat primarily targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.

Barbell Back Squat how to perform

  • Step 1: Begin by setting up a barbell on a squat rack at chest height. Load the barbell with an appropriate amount of weight.
  • Step 2: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, positioning yourself under the barbell. Duck under the bar to rest it on your upper back across the trapezius muscles.
  • Step 3: Grasp the barbell with an overhand grip, keeping your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Step 4: Step back from the rack, ensuring your feet are hip-width apart. Position your feet with toes pointing slightly outward.
  • Step 5: Engage your core, keep your chest up, and maintain a neutral spine.
  • Step 6: Inhale and bend at your hips and knees simultaneously, lowering your body towards the ground.
  • Step 7: Descend until your thighs are parallel to the ground or as low as your flexibility allows, ensuring your knees track in line with your toes.
  • Step 8: Exhale and push through your heels to return to the starting position, fully extending your hips and knees.

Perform each repetition with controlled movements, focusing on the engagement of the lower body muscles.

Starting position

Final position

CAUTION: Rember to consult with a fitness professional or healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions.

Exercise Tips

  • Maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.
  • Keep your chest up and your gaze forward.
  • Control the descent and ascent to maximize muscle engagement.
  • Use a weight that challenges you while maintaining proper form.


  1. Front Squat: Rest the barbell on the front of your shoulders, engaging the core and emphasizing quad activation.
  2. Overhead Squat: Press the barbell overhead with a wider grip, challenging stability and engaging the core.
  3. Box Squat: Perform squats onto a box or bench to control depth and emphasize the posterior chain.
  4. Paused Squat: Add a brief pause at the bottom of the squat to increase time under tension and enhance strength.