You are here

Master This Move: Barbell Back Squat

Corbis Images

How much weight can you squat? The barbell back squat, and the amount of weight you can do it with, is one of those gold standards by which fitness is measured. (Just like how the number of chin-ups you can do says a lot about how fit you are—learn how to master that move too.) But beyond bragging rights, this move has some other key benefits. “Back squats are simply one of the best moves you can do for a better booty. But they also work your quads, core, hamstrings, and lower back,” says Alyssa Ages, a trainer at Uplift Studios, Epic Hybrid Training, and Global Strongman Gym in New York City. 

If you've never done this movement before, start with an empty barbell or even a PVC pipe or broomstick until you learn the movement pattern, advises Ages. Once you’re ready to add weight, do so in 10-pound increments. Grab a friend or trainer on the gym floor and ask them to “spot you” (i.e. stand by in case you overestimate how much weight you can handle and need help re-racking the barbell) or check your form the first time you try it. Ages advises working 2-3 sets of 5-6 reps into your routine once or twice a week. ​(Can’t get enough of squats? Try this 6-Minute Super Squat Workout.) 

First, know that that you shouldn’t fear heavy weights. Then, follow these easy steps to nail the barbell back squat on your own.

A Step into the rack and position yourself so the bar is a few inches below the top of your spine. Place your hands at an even distance apart, just outside of your shoulders, elbows pointed straight down. 

B Step out of the rack with the bar on your back and stand with feet shoulder-width apart (your stance may be wider or more narrow depending on your flexibility and how long your legs are).

C Inhale (don't exhale until you come back to this upright position), engage your core, and initiate the squat by sending your butt back as if you were going to sit down in a chair; your knees will extend out to the sides to allow for greater depth in the squat. Keep your torso vertical, keeping your chest from falling forward. Heels stay connected to the floor the entire time. Continue lowering until your butt drops below your knee crease (you might hear people call this "below parallel" or "breaking parallel.")

Return to start by pressing through your heels and driving your hips straight up, keeping your chest upright and your upper back tight against the bar. Return the bar to the rack, exhale, repeat. 

Comments

Add a comment