The Back Squat is great for all levels of athletes, and it’s one of the best exercises for adding size and strength. Though challenging, it produces results quickly, making it especially rewarding for younger athletes.
But the Back Squat has lots of potential for bad technique, and to be effective it must be done right. Here’s what you need to know to safely perform Back Squat workouts.
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1. Safety Considerations
- When you’re starting out, do not squat without safety bars or a power rack, because there’s a good chance you’ll get hurt.
- Make sure the bar is at the proper height: Racking and unracking can be difficult and dangerous if the racked position is too high or too low.
- Going too heavy, too fast increases the likelihood of injury. Go slow and steady, especially if you are a beginner.
- The key to success is not how fast you can pack on loads and plates. The key is consistency over a long period of time.
After a proper warm-up, the Back Squat should be the first or second exercise in your workout. This will allow you to recruit most of your motor units for the hardest and most important exercise, giving you greater strength and hypertrophy potential. Recruiting larger and stronger muscles will increase fat burning.
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If you really want to increase the amount of weight you can Squat, perform Back Squats every day with correct form. But I wouldn’t recommend squatting every day on your own. You need a coach. Getting under the bar and performing the minimum of 50 percent of your max every day will test you physically and mentally. There will be days when you want to do more. There will be days where you want to push through a nagging hamstring injury. Don’t.
A coach will tell you what you are doing right and wrong. Daily live coaching is not necessary, but weekly check-ins and form critiques are crucial to your success if you want to take this on every day.
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4. Knee Position
“What happens when my knees cave in?” you ask. Ah, the valgus collapse. This is primarily due to pushing yourself to lift more weight. As long as you know how to squat correctly, you should be safely squatting, even when your knees have the valgus collapse. Look at it this way: if you can squat properly with twice your body weight and no knee collapse, your form is great. When you attempt to squat greater than twice your body weight and your knees collapse from the load possibly being a max effort, you are pushing your physical limits. As long as your knees do not hurt before, during or after a valgus collapse, you should not have much to worry about. But you should still focus on your knees driving outward during the entire Squat movement pattern.
5. Starting Out
Perform this exercise with correct form. If you feel like you are not using correct technique, film yourself squatting, then compare your technique to a coach’s video on STACK.com. If you still feel like you are not performing the exercise properly, find a coach to help you with your technique. No need to be intimidated; most coaches are happy to help you with your exercise technique.
Most of all, start now. Here is a Goblet Squat technique video to help you get started. All you need is a dumbbell. If you don’t have access to one, no worries; you can just do Bodyweight Squats.