Barbell Squats for Beginners

Are you new to the gym and looking for some fun and useful lifts to do? The barbell squat is one of the key compound movements to perform in the gym. A compound exercise is an exercise that uses more than one joint to complete. This lift is considered to be essential for maximum leg muscle growth. While targeting the quadriceps and hamstrings, this movement also uses other parts of the body. For example, the abdominal muscles and the glutes are also worked during this exercise.

If you don’t have access to a barbell, you can always complete this exercise with only body weight, or get creative! Use a rod to mimic the position of a barbell, or hold two cans in your hands for a little more weight. You can also use regular hand weights.

How To Squat

Using the pictures as references, the barbell squat uses three basic positions: the start stance, the descend, and the ascend.

The start stance.

The Start Stance: Start by taking the bar off the rack and resting the bar on your back (the shoulder muscles). Your feet should be shoulder width apart with your toes pointed slightly outward. Your neck should be in a neutral position to keep your spine in alignment.

The descend.

The Descend: Slowly start descending down into a squat position while keeping your back as neutral as possible. Keep your knees straight and descend until your hip crease is below your knee.

The ascend.

The Ascend: Keep your weight in your heels the entire time and and push up back into a standing position. You should end in the same position that you started in.


  1. Keep your chest up
  2. Make sure to keep your neck neutral
  3. Keep your knees in line with your toes
  4. Keep your heels flat on the floor

Now you’re ready to complete a barbell squat!

By Alyssa Nacin

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