Barbell squat exercise

Barbell squat

Exercise details

  • Movement pattern: Squat
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Force: Push

Main muscles activated

Muscles activated by barbell squat exercise


Starting position

  1. Load a barbell on a rack at upper-chest height.
  2. Step under the barbell so that it rests on the back of your shoulders, and grasp the bar at each side.
  3. Dismount the barbell and step backward carefully. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and pointing slightly outwards.


  1. Inhale as you squat down by simultaneously pushing your butt backward and bending your knees forward. Keep your torso upright, and descend at least until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Exhale as you push your body back up to the starting position, driving through your heels and keeping your torso upright.
  3. Repeat.

Comments and tips

  • Keep your back straight, torso upright, head up, and feet flat.
  • Keep your knees and feet pointing in the same direction.
  • Practice proper barbell squat form with an unloaded barbell.
  • Start light and add weight gradually, allowing your legs and lower back to adapt.
  • If lifting heavy, have a spotter ready, or use a squat rack or power rack.
  • The barbell squat is arguably the king of all exercises, the only challenger being the barbell deadlift. The exercise is loved by men because it is great at strengthening the legs and core, shocking the body into releasing testosterone, and promoting the development of body-wide muscle and strength. The exercise is loved by women because it is very effective at ‘toning’ butts and thighs.
  • Most barbell squat-related accidents happen while stepping back with the barbell.
  • See also the barbell front squat, the barbell-between-legs split squat, and the barbell split squat.

Barbell squat video


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