How To SQUAT
Learn how to squat properly for powerlifting beginners! The proper weight lifting form and technique you need to get stronger, build muscle mass and develop maximum leg strength.
The King Of All Exercises
The Squat is known as the “King of All Exercises” because it builds muscle mass throughout your entire body and tests your full body strength all in one powerful lift. The Bench Press and Deadlift have their own place in the strength world, but having a big squat makes you King and Queen to others.
This is the lift where you are standing with weight on your shoulders that would crush an ordinary person to the ground and yet you make it bow down to you as you lift it with ease! No other lift can test your strength and will the same as the Squat, and nothing can replace it.
The Squat Is Your Base
The Squat is also your base, and if you don’t have a strong base to build the rest of your body on, then you will never reach your true potential.
Nobody likes the gym bro look with a huge upper body, but chicken legs to stand on. It just looks weak, like they will find any excuse to skip leg day. Don’t be that person!
Build your base into the strong foundation you need to set an incredible upper body physique on! Do that and every part of your body will grow even stronger!
Though the squat focuses on your leg strength and development, your entire body must be involved to push back against the load trying to crush you where you stand. The squat helps to build muscle in all areas, including your upper body, through the releases powerful hormones. If you want bigger legs, squat. Bigger glutes, squat. Bigger arms, squat. If you want bigger anything, squat more!
All this from just one simple lift! No wonder it is called “King”!
Everything you need to know about the King of All Exercises!
Includes a 12 Week Squat Program, Workouts, common Squat mistakes and how to fix them! Plus, so much more in this nearly 100-page master guide!
How To Squat Properly
Side view at the bottom of the page.
- Test Full Body Strength
- Test Leg Strength
- Build Leg and Core Strength
- Quadriceps (Legs),
- Hamstrings (Legs),
- Glutes (Hips)
- Bar Placement,
- Box Squat,
- Accommodating Resistance,
- Specialty Bars,
- Assistive Gear,
Your squat set-up is all about creating tension in the right places without wasting energy. You need to maintain that same tightness during your entire squat. If you lose tightness then you lose strength.
Grab The Bar:
Grasp bar firmly, with thumbs wrapped, as close to your shoulders as you can while maintaining a relatively neutral wrist position, that allows you to still pull the bar into your body.
If you grab too wide, then you will lose back tightness and risk falling out of position. If you grab too close, then you can stress your wrists and will be pushing the bar off your back rather than creating tightness from it.
Find the best position for you, and if you have shoulder or wrist mobility problems you should try to improve them before every training session. You can do this with my How To Warm-Up Properly For Strength Training Guide.
Set Your Feet Directly Under The Bar:
Set your feet directly under the bar in your squat stance so that the bar is directly over your midfoot.
If you set your feet behind the bar, then you will waste valuable energy as you have to pull the weight out of the rack from in front of your center of gravity.
You want to be able to stand straight up with the weight and not be out of position.
Set The Bar On Your Back:
Squat down and place the bar in the strongest position for you on your upper back, anywhere between the base of your neck and middle of rear deltoids (shoulder muscle).
Note: A higher bar position will emphasize greater knee flexion and less torso lean, while a lower bar position will emphasize more torso lean and less knee flexion.
Brace Your Core:
Suck in as much air as you can and hold it in, attempting to create as much intra-abdominal pressure as you can, to stabilize your spine. Then press your lips closed to hold the air in while flexing all of the musculature surrounding your entire torso, and forcing the air deep down into your abdomen. This is known as the Valsalva Maneuver.
Hold this tightness throughout your entire set-up.
Pull The Bar Into You:
Pull your elbows down and in towards your hips throughout the movement, as if you are going to bend the bar over your back. This keeps that bar locked in and it should never, ever slide out of place, if done properly.
Push Your Head Back Into The Bar:
While keeping a neutral spine, force your head back into the bar, with your eyes straight ahead. Imagine pulling your chin straight back, and never tilt your head up.
Maintain a neutral head position (straight spine) throughout the entire lift with eyes straight ahead.
Stand Straight Up With The Weight:
Flex your glutes hard as you simultaneously, extend your knees and hips to lift the bar straight up, just over the rack hooks. Stay tight while you do this.
Walk It Out:
Slide one foot at a time back 3-4 inches, or just enough to clear the rack hooks, so you are standing in your squat stance.
The farther you move the more likely you are to be out of position and waste energy. The bar should move straight up and down when you squat, so you do not need to move back very far.
Toes should point somewhere between 10-45 degrees out depending on your stance width and mobility. Try different positions and see what works best for you.
If your heels come up as you squat or you have trouble getting to depth, then try either turning your toes out more or widening your stance, until you improve your ankle mobility.
Grab The Ground:
Suction cup your feet to the ground by spreading your toes as wide as you can, then grasping the floor with your entire foot. Your entire foot (heel, the ball of your foot, and outer edge) should stay locked into the ground.
Then, while clenching your toes into the ground like eagle claws, create torque by externally rotate your feet, as if they were to spin in place, throughout the entire motion.
This movement should flex your entire lower body from your glutes down through your entire legs so that everything is tight, and nothing is loose or relaxed.
Maintain this external rotation torque throughout the lift.
Note: By grabbing the ground with your foot you are simply creating a strong arch in your foot, not rolling your ankle. Your feet should not move out of place or come up at all during these motions. Just create a rotational pressure to stabilize your joints, while your entire foot is locked into the ground.
Re-Brace Your Core:
While keeping your entire body tight, again suck in as much air as you can and press it down deep into your abdomen increasing the intra-abdominal pressure. Hold this tightness throughout the entire lift.
Bend At The Hip:
Initiate the motion by bending at the waist, pushing your hips back slightly, maintaining a neutral spine as if doing a 3-inch bow. This is a slight motion just to open the hips.
The weight should stay over your midfoot, with no back arching.
Push Your Knees Out:
Push your knees out laterally to open your hips throughout the lift. This better engages your hips and makes for a stronger squat.
Your knees should travel in line with your toes during the entire lift. If they cave in at all then you need to work on your glute strength AND adductor mobility (being able to do the splits better to open up your hips).
Squat Straight Down and Up:
While maintaining a neutral spine, open your hips and descending straight down into a full depth squat. Make sure to bend your knees and hips simultaneously. Then forcefully press back up into the bar as you ascend, by extending your hips and knees together.
Keep your head neutral and knees pressed out over your foot.
If you set-up properly your body should do most of the movement for you. All you have to do is go straight down and back up with force.
- Stay tight throughout the entire set-up and squat.
- Pull the bar into you.
- Grab the ground with your feet.
- Torque your knees out throughout the full range of motion.
- Control the lift with your glutes.
- Maintain a neutral spine and head position.
- Drive back up into the bar to stand.
Always use spotters during your squats for safety.
Everything you need to know about the King of All Exercises!
Includes a 12 Week Squat Program, Workouts, common Squat mistakes and how to fix them. Plus, so much more in this nearly 100-page master guide!