How to Squat with a Barbell

How to Squat with a Barbell

In this lesson you will learn how to squat with a barbell on your back. The barbell squat is the most important exercise for overall strength muscle size, because it doesn't just train your leg muscles, but also stimulates testosterone production. As a result, not only your hamstrings will become bigger and stronger. Find more leg exercises at weight training main.


  • First of all, you have to know how to carry the weight. The trick is, that you don't lift the barbell with your neck. Place the barbell on your rear delts (back side of your shoulder muscles). This way your squats will be a lot more comfortable and you will be able to lift mor e weight and do more repetitions. Push your elbows and your shoulders back. If you can't put the barbell on your shoulders, you should stretch your shoulders and protect your back with a towel or a foam piece (but that's only a temporary solution)
  • Stand with your feet about one shoulder width apart. Toes point slightly out.
  • It is very important that you keep your back straight when you do barbell squats. You can hollow your back a little tiny bit, but make sure you don't bend forward at all. Your back should should remain in the same position throughout the entire exercise.
  • Look straight forward. I recommend you do the barbell squat in front of a mirror. Looking forward will help you keep your back straight.
  • Then squat down slowly, inhale and keep looking straight forward. The down-motion should be slightly slower than the up-motion. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor (or lower) and make sure you don't elevate your heels. If you can't move down without elevating your heels, put 45lbs (20kg) plates under your heels or use weightlifting shoes. However, I recommend you also stretch your calf muscles.
  • Then stand back up and exhale.


  • When you squat heavy, use a weight lifting belt, knee protections etc.
  • Work out with a training partner, and make sure you have a place where you can rest your barbell after the last repetition (when you go to muscle failure). Personally, I hate nothing more than a gym without a proper squat rack. An "ok" compromise would be squatting with 2 flat benches on the sides.
  • A common mistake is lifting the barbell with your back first and using your legs to straighten up. You have to lift the weight with your legs only.
  • Don't wobble around with your knees. If your knees move from side to side, or your barbell is not aligned horizontally (even if it's just for a short moment), that's a sign you are trying to squat too much weight or you have to work on your technique.
  • No squat or leg press machine can be compared to the free barbell squat. The barbell squat is and will always be the king of all exercises.
  • Corrections by: Scott Sherrard