Barbell Squat

The squat is a fundamental weight training exercise for building strength, mass sports performance and long-term health.

Primary Muscle Quadriceps
Secondary Muscle(s) Calves, Hamstrings
Difficulty Advanced
Also known as Weighted Squat, Olympic Squat, Back Squat
Equipment Barbell and Weights
Optional Power Rack
Short Code SQ

A guide to weighted squats

The squat is a multi-muscle exercise that promotes big gains in lean muscle mass. It sometimes comes under criticism for being hard on the back and knees but when performed correctly, it's fundamentally one of the best exercises for strength, muscle-mass, sports performance and long term-health. 

The squat is a basic human movement. It's recommended that you first train for the standard bodyweight squat before progressing onto weighted variations. This will build base strength and allow you to learn the appropriate form and technique. Aim for 100-200 successive repetitions with the basic squat first.

How to barbell squat

  1. Set a bar in a rack just below shoulder height and load the weight plates (if you're new to squatting, start small to get a feel for the exercise, the mechanics and your current capabilities).
  2. Grab the bar with hands just outside shoulder width, step under and rest the barbell on your back.
  3. Lift the bar off the rack by pushing up with the legs and take a step back from the rack. Set your feet shoulder-width apart, bend at the knees slightly, pull in your lower abs, and set your head in line with your spine, keeping eyes forward.
  4. Once positioned correctly begin the squat by bending at the knees and hips together to lower your body. Keep your heels flat on the floor. 
  5. Strongly push yourself back up to the starting position mirroring the descent.


  • Ensure the bar is centered on your back for even weight distribution. 
  • Keep your back as straight as possible throughout the lift to avoid strain or injury.

Barbell squat variations

Bodyweight squat movements:

Weighted squat movements:


Always consult your GP before undertaking any form of weight loss, fitness or exercise.