Gym Guide: How To Properly Do Barbell Squats

Gym Guide: How To Properly Do Barbell Squats

Going on a fitness journey often involves navigating a sea of workout routines, and amidst this, the barbell squat stands tall as a pillar of strength training.

Whether you're a seasoned gym-goer or a beginner, understanding how to properly execute barbell squats is important for unlocking their full potential.

Understanding the Basics


The barbell squat heavily activates the quadriceps, which are the muscles located at the front of your thighs.

This engagement is crucial for the extension of the knee joint during the upward phase of the squat.


The hamstrings, located at the back of your thighs, play a significant role in the barbell squat.

They are engaged to flex the knee joint and contribute to the movement during the descent and ascent phases.


The gluteal muscles, comprising the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus, are major contributors to the barbell squat.

They are responsible for hip extension, aiding in the upward phase of the squat and providing stability.

Lower Back Muscles:

The muscles of the lower back, including the erector spinae, are engaged to maintain a neutral spine throughout the squat.

They play a crucial role in stabilizing the spine and preventing excessive arching or rounding.

Understanding the involvement of these muscle groups not only provides insight into the biomechanics of the barbell squat but also lays a solid foundation for perfecting your form and optimizing your workout.

Setting Up Your Equipment

Selecting the right barbell and weights is crucial. Ensure the barbell is appropriate for your strength level, and the weights are securely fastened. Adjust the squat rack to match your height, promoting a smooth and controlled range of motion.

Proper Body Positioning

Now, let's talk about your stance. Adopt a shoulder-width position, toes slightly turned out. Maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement, avoiding excessive arching or rounding. This optimal positioning not only enhances effectiveness but also prevents potential injuries.

The Descent: Going Low Safely

As you descend into the squat, focus on controlled movement. Break at the hips and knees simultaneously, lowering yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Ensure your knees track over your toes and avoid excessive forward lean. This controlled descent is key to activating the targeted muscle groups.

The Ascent: Powering Through

The upward phase is where the magic happens. Drive through your heels, engaging your glutes and quadriceps. Maintain a straight back and avoid locking your knees at the top. This powerful ascent not only works the muscles but also enhances overall stability.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

In the pursuit of mastering barbell squats, steer clear of common mistakes. These include improper depth, poor form, and neglecting core engagement. Addressing these pitfalls early on ensures a solid foundation for future progress.

  • Improper Depth:

    • Ensure you reach a proper squat depth by lowering until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
    • Avoid going too shallow, as it may compromise the effectiveness of the exercise.
  • Poor Form:

    • Maintain a neutral spine throughout the squat, avoiding excessive arching or rounding.
    • Pay attention to your foot placement and ensure a shoulder-width stance for stability.
  • Neglecting Core Engagement:

    • Engage your core muscles during the entire squat movement.
    • A strong core not only supports your spine but also enhances overall stability.

Avoiding these common mistakes is essential for mastering barbell squats and establishing a strong foundation for future progress.

Progression and Adding Weight

Gradual progression is key to long-term success. Increase the weight gradually, ensuring your form remains impeccable. This strategic approach prevents injuries while promoting continuous growth in strength and muscle mass.


In conclusion, mastering the art of barbell squats is not just about building physical strength; it's about unlocking your potential and embracing a journey of continuous improvement.

From setting up your equipment to overcoming challenges, each step contributes to a stronger, healthier you. So, step into the squat rack with confidence and let the transformative journey begin!

Recommended Gear For Barbell Squat

Now that you know how to do a barbell squat, here are some recommend gym accessories to help support this workout!

Lifting Belts

A lifting belt provides essential core support, helping to maintain intra-abdominal pressure and protect the lower back. Cinch it snugly around your waist before tackling those heavy lifts.

The 13mm SBD Lever Belt

The classic SBD Belt. A high quality 13mm lever belt featuring a patented gliding lever, providing the adjustability of a prong belt with the ease and tightness of a lever belt.

Ideal for sizing up or down whenever you need during training sessions and competitions. Perfect for beginners or seasoned lifters.

The 10mm SBD Belt

The 10mm lever belt is constructed using two different cuts of hide to allow the belt to retain support while moulding to your waist.

Featuring a low profile buckle - along with rounded edges and corners - to minimise any obstruction or discomfort from contact between the legs and the belt. This belt is most suited for weight lifters.

Knee Sleeves

For those pushing their limits, knee sleeves offer valuable joint support. Incorporating knee sleeves can provide an extra layer of protection, especially if you're dealing with heavier loads.

The Classic SBD Knee Sleeves

Manufactured with high grade 7mm neoprene, the SBD Knee Sleeves is designed to minimise the risk of injury and to aid performance. Relied on by strength athletes around the world, these 7mm knee sleeves are ideal for heavy training.

The SBD Powerlifting Knee Sleeves

The SBD Powerlifting Knee Sleeves are designed for competitive powerlifters looking for the maximum support from their sleeves. They allow for significantly greater compression throughout knee flexion to maximise support and confidence during maximal attempts, increasing top end performance.


  • How often should I incorporate barbell squats into my routine? The frequency of barbell squats depends on your fitness goals. However, starting with 2-3 sessions per week is a good foundation.

  • Can I still do barbell squats if I have knee issues? Consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you have knee concerns. They can provide personalized guidance.

  • Is it normal to feel sore after doing barbell squats? Yes, muscle soreness is normal, especially for beginners. Ensure proper warm-up and cool-down routines to minimize discomfort.

  • Can I do barbell squats at home without a squat rack? While a squat rack is ideal for safety, you can modify squats using alternatives like goblet squats or bodyweight squats if a rack is not available.

  • How long does it take to see results from regular barbell squatting? Results vary, but with consistent effort, you can start noticing improvements in strength and muscle tone within a few weeks.

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