The barbell squat is possibly the king of lower body exercises and it has stood the test of time. The squat targets every muscle with an emphasis on quads and glutes but it also hit the hamstrings and calves as secondary movers during the exercise. The core muscles also benefit greatly from the barbell squat since it has to stabilize a lot of weight sitting on your traps.
Now, the barbell squat may not be for everyone but if you want the most gains possible, this is the exercise you need in your arsenal. And the great thing about the squat is that it can be easily taught to anyone and is extremely effective for building big, strong legs.
In this Exercise
- Target Muscle Groups: Gluteus Maximus, Quadriceps (Rectus femoris, Vastus lateralis, Vastus medialis, Vastus intermedius)
- Type: Strength
- Mechanics: Compound
- Equipment: Barbell, squat rack
- Difficulty: Beginner
- Set up a barbell on a rack about chest height with the desired weight loaded on the bar.
- Now, position your traps under the barbell so they can hold the weight, then unmount the barbell, and back up slightly while taking a wider than shoulder width stance.
- Make sure your back is straight, core tight, and knees aligned vertically with your heels.
- Squat down to about parallel or slightly lower while inhaling.
- Then push yourself back up through your heels until you’re back in the starting position while exhaling.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
Variations & Tips
- Practice with just your body weight or a barbell before attempting the squat with added resistance.
- Don’t go too heavy if you’re a beginner, and try to keep reps to around the 10-12 range.
- Always have a spotter when you’re squatting heavy weight.
- Make sure the barbell is not too high or low on your traps as you’ll either lean too far forward or backward.
- The squat works every leg muscle and the entire core as well.