Referred to as “the king of leg moves,” the squat has earned its title by consistently producing measurable results.
The barbell squat is a compound weightlifting move that works every muscle in the lower body, serving as the most effective way to strengthen the posterior chain.
Focusing primarily on the hamstrings, quads, and glutes, the squat packs a powerful punch, while strengthening the tendons, ligaments, and joints throughout the lower body in the process.
Loading up the barbell with a significant amount of weight takes this move into full-body exercise territory. The need to brace your core and engage your back muscles to maintain the optimal torso position during the process creates whole-body tension.
The star of the show for power lifters, Olympic lifters, bodybuilders, and football and rugby players, the barbell squat can be a useful addition to any strength training program.
The squat originated in bodybuilding groups throughout Europe around the dawn of World War I. Referred to as the “deep knee bend,” this early version was executed by holding the heels together and placing weight on the balls of the feet. Lifters typically loaded their barbells lightly as squat racks had not yet been invented and performed many repetitions
In 1919, Carl Moerke won the first documented squatting competition in Germany by successfully quatting a whopping 529lbs.
German Strongman Henry Steinborn immigrated to the US in 1921, bringing the squat with him. He was featured in Strength magazine performing the move, and it caught on like wildfire.
Consequently, commercial-grade squat racks began cropping up throughout health clubs, gyms, and weight training facilities throughout the country.
How to Perform the Barbell Squat
Proper execution of the barbell squat involves driving up through the heels and maintaining control and balance throughout the range of movement, which requires stability of the ankles and core as well as good shoulder mobility.
Step 1: Load your barbell with your desired amount of weight and find the right level for you.
Step 2: Take the barbell from the power rack and rest it on your traps as you face forward, pushing your chest out and up with a hip-width stance.
Step 3: Inhale as you put your weight on the front of the heel to bend down at the knees, keeping them in alignment with your feet so your torso stays upright.
Step 4: When your upper legs come into contact with your lower legs, exhale and fire an explosion through the hips as you drive the weight back up.
Step 5: Repeat the process until the desired number of reps has been achieved.
Here are a few things at which the squat excels:
- Enhancing explosive firing power through the hip and legs
- Boosting testosterone production
- Increasing strength and power throughout the posterior chain
- Burning calories
- Improving balance and coordination
- Increasing functional fitness
- Engaging your core
- Increasing flexibility and agility
Though the barbell squat is undoubtedly one of the most popular types of squats, there are several others that can be beneficial to do, including:
- Landmine Squat
- Goblet Squat
- Sumo Squat
- Split Squat
- Pistol Squat
- Overhead Squat
- Front Squat
- Prisoner Squat
- Bulgarian Split Squat
Because squatting is such a strenuous exercise, it burns a lot more calories than the average lift, which aids in weight loss and the achievement of a sculpted physique.
What’s more, the squat has actually been proven to boost the natural production of testosterone as well as growth hormones in the body.