How to Squat: Top 5 tips

The squat and all of its variations are considered one of the Big Three movements that you can perform in the gym. Certainly a must have exercise in any training program!

Specifically we are going to go through how to perform the Back Squat in this exercise guide.

Now, the Back Squat is one of the key movements but can cop some criticism from people that have been injured during the movement - To ensure this isn't you, use the CORRECT technique when performing the lift and the only issue you will have is becoming too much of a BEAST!

Purpose of the movement:

The back squat is the primary 'push' movement for the lower body. As you are pushing the weight up from the ground, predominately an anterior dominant movement. The purpose is to control the weight down to the desired range (ideally below parallel), and the drive up through your heels. Crucial exercise to include in any program! If you want to run faster-squat, want to get stronger-squat, want to look better-squat.

Muscles involved:

The back squat movement requires a massive recruitment of many muscle fibres. The major muscles that are involved during the back squat are:

  • Quadriceps
  • Gluteus Max/Med/Min
  • Adductor Magnus
  • Gastrocnemius
  • Erector Spinae
  • Hamstrings
  • Soleus
  • Rectus Abdominis
  • Obliques

Obviously other muscles play a role but these listed above are the key movers.

Equipment needed:

The key things you will need to perform the back squat:

  • Power rack or squat stands
  • Barbell
  • Plates
  • weight plate collar

Optional extra equipment:

  • knee sleves/wraps
  • bar padding
  • weightlifting belt
  • weightlifting shoes/flat shoes

Step by Step guide:

  1. Set up all of the required equipment
  2. Set the safety bars/straps at the correct height just below the depth you will be aiming for. Save you from getting crushed if you fail, also great as a depth indicator.
  3. Place the J hooks at the correct height - just below shoulder level- making it easy to unrack the weight.
  4. When unracking the bar make sure the knurling in the middle of the bar is in the middle of your back. Some people may choose to place padding (pussy padding) on this area of the bar - our option though, grow some shoulders and place it on the muscle.
  5. Grip - hands grip the bar approximately near the smooth section of the bar outside of shoulder width.
  6. Once we have the grip and bar in place on middle of the back, step under the bar and unrack it. Take two small steps backwards and get set up.
  7. With feet just wider than shoulder width and feet sightly pointed outwards.
  8. Now the first movement is to break at the hips and 'sit' back as if you were sitting into a chair, weight staying in your heals, knees going over the top of your toes.
  9. Try and maintain a 'big chest' throughout the movement helping to keep the neutral spine
  10. Control the weight down through the movement until reaching desired depth, then drive hard through your heels at the bottom position and return to a standing position.

Top 5 Tips:

  1. Make sure safety bars are in place before squatting
  2. Get stance right before you begin the downward phase
  3. Don't let your knees drop in at all!! Go lighter if it means they stay straight - you need to spend some more time strengthen up your glutes to prevent the knee drop.
  4. Don't look up at the sky - just straight forward or down slightly - reduces stress on the spine.
  5. Get someone to coach you through the back squat! It is one exercise you want to get right so get the expert guidance for it.


The Back Squat is certainly an exercise you need to master in the gym no matter your training goal! Follow all of these steps to help with your progress. In no time you will be looking better and feeling stronger from this lift.

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