Epitomes have been written about the back squat discussing why it is the greatest exercise and how everyone should be doing it. My goal here is not to push for the back squat to be the answer to all your strength and conditioning woes, but rather to introduce you to the back squat, explain how it should be performed, what benefits it provides, and who should or should not incorporate it into their programs. The Benefits of the Back Squat
The benefits elicited from the back squat are not exclusive to this particular variation, but are common to almost all of the variations. The back squat is one of the king strength exercises for developing both lower body strength and size as well as developing an individual's overall musculature. The squat also helps to develop adequate mobility in the hips and ankles and maintain that mobility. But the key that makes the back squat so much more efficient and effective for lower body development is the ability to stabilize and move large amounts of weight that isn't matched by another squat variation. More weight means more force produced which means more muscle fibers stimulated leading to greater overall growth and strength gains.
How to Perform the Back Squat
- Place a barbell in a squat rack and adjust the pins so that the barbell sits just below your shoulders.
- Grasp the bar with a wider than even shoulder-width grip. Ultimately the grip will be based upon what you find more comfortable, but just wider than shoulder width is a good starting point.
- Duck your head underneath the bar so that your the barbell sits level across your trapezius. The bar should rest below your cervical spine and just above your shoulder blades. Your body should be underneath the bar in the middle so that there is equal amounts of the bar on either side.
- To unrack the barbell place both feet squarely underneath your torso with the barbell still across your back.
- Extend your knees and hips so that you are standing up straight and the barbell is no longer resting on the pins. Take two to three steps back away from the front of the rack. You are now ready to back squat
- To initial the squat keep your abdomen braced, head neutral, and back in a neutral spine. Assume a wider than hip width stance with your toes pointed straight ahead. Push your hips down and back and drive your knees out. Maintain a neutral spine, a neutral head position, and braced abdomen as you descend.
- The bottom of the squat is reached when the hips become even with the knee. Usually this also means the femur is parallel to the ground. Depth can be deeper if adequate mobility is possessed, but hips even with the knees should be achievable for everyone.
- To come out of the bottom position of the squat drive your hips to the ceiling, your feet through the ground and extend both your knees and hips. This will return you to the standing position.
Below is a video of entire movement.
side note: don't ever unrack with bar by stepping out of the rack and rack the bar by stepping back into the rack as I do in the video. I did this simply for ease because I would have had to turn the rack around to film the movement.
Who Should Perform the Back Squat
Anyone who desires a muscular, well-developed lower body capable of being mobile and strong whenever necessary.
Who shouldn't perform the Back Squat
Anyone who can not perform a basic bodyweight squat, has history of hip impingement, a problem with holding their shoulder in external rotation, and/or can't maintain a neutral spine under load.
I hope this short posts provides you with knowledge you need to decide whether the back squat is something you should try in your program.
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training.