How Do You Do a Back Squat?


Man doing a heavy squat

How Do You Do a Back Squat?

The squat is a cornerstone of everyday life. Not just for me, as a powerlifter, but for you too. Of course, you might be thinking “how does he know who he’s talking to?” but I’m assuming you’re human so I can say it.

How Do You Do a Back Squat?

Why Squat?

It’s an old joke that if you ask people what they bench in a gym they’ll hit you quickly with a big number in the triple figures, but if you ask what they squat they’ll give you their injury history. I understand, squats can be hard to get good at. They’re heavy and, frankly, a bit scary.

But they are beneficial. 

If you’re sat down now, stand up. You’ve just done a squat. Go to the toilet, you’re squatting again. It is an every day movement and a surprisingly high amount of people don’t know how to do it. If you learn how to do it: –  your legs (the joints and muscles) will be stronger; your posture could improve, and; you may even grow a peach.

How to Back Squat.

The back squat is the first of the three power lifts. In essence, you put a loaded bar upon your back and bend your knees and hips until your hip crease is below the top of your thighs and then you stand back up again. Sounds easy, right?

Well, you’ll need to take a number of things into account before you get started, such as : –

  • Are you a high bar or low bar squatter?
  • Do you know the difference?
  • Where should your stance be?
  • What footwear should I wear?
  • Do I have the mobility for this?

To answer most of these questions, I’ll give you a brief overview of high bar vs low bar : –

Most people will learn high bar first.  This is where the bar is placed across the trapezius muscle near the neck. This position works best for people who squat with their back in a more upright position.

Low bar is more tricky to find the position. The best way to find the correct position is to set the bar up in a high bar position against the rack and to slide the bar down your back until you find a second racking position, you’ll feel where it sits nicely.
Genetics play a large role in which bar position you choose –

  • High Bar requires – greater ankle flexion, shorter relative femur length, longer torso length, narrower stance and more quadriceps dominance.
  • Low Bar requires – longer relative femur length, shorter torso, wider stance, greater gluteal strength.

Also, high bars respond best to an elevated heel, which is where weightlifting shoes come in. Low bars respond better to no heel elevation, so flat shoes are good for this

Once you have determined this, your foot stance is then a matter of experimentation.

The Back Squat.

Once you’ve determined your position and stance, you are then free to go to a squat rack and have some fun. Safe and sensible fun, but fun all the same.

How To Do a Back Squat

James Wilks

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