How to Master the Barbell Back Squat

Photo by Mariah Krafft on Unsplash

One of the most popular weightlifting exercises around is the barbell back squat, which is beloved for its ability to hit a large variety of muscle groups including the core, the back, the quads, the glutes, and the hamstrings. A centerpiece for many workout programs, the barbell back squat gives you lots of bang for your buck. So you want to learn it? Here are some tips that will help.

Start Small

As a free weight exercise, it’s incredibly important to work your way up with barbell back squats. So go ahead and start with very low weight, even just the bar, at first until you really master the correct form.

Look Forward

Be careful to avoid dropping your chin to your chest, as it can make you hunch forward and mess up your squat form.

Keep Your Chest Up

To avoid letting your spine flex while squatting, make sure to always keep your chest up when you squat.

Align Your Knees With Your Toes

With your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes turned out slightly, make sure that your knees stay in line with your toes during the whole squat, not caving inward.

Keep Your Heels Flat

Your weight should be in your heels and mid-foot when you squat. Having it too far forward will put too much pressure on your knees. If this is hard for you, you may need to work on your hamstring flexibility.


Using your breath to brace your core can help you to be able to squat more weight. Take a deep breath before you lift and hold the air in your lungs as you lower into your squat. Exhale when you return to the start position.