How to Squat with Proper Form a general introduction

The squat is one of the best exercises out there when it comes to training with weights. Being a compound lift that not only strengthens your legs but gives your whole body stability. But why aren't there more people performing squats then?

You probably heard the excuses about how squats are bad for your knees, causing you to avoid them altogether. It's time to debunk the myths and unleash the true potential of squats in your fitness journey. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the benefits of incorporating squats into your fitness routine. From building strength and muscle to burning fat and improving endurance, squats offer a wide range of advantages that can transform your body and elevate your overall fitness levels.

Join us as we delve into the world of squats and discover why they are the ultimate exercise you should be doing. Say goodbye to excuses and hello to a healthier, stronger, and more confident you.

It's time to squat your way to success!

Proper Squat Form: Key Cues

Before talking about how to squat, we want to tell you about some key cues that you are doing it right. If you follow these key cues, you should be good to go. But in addition to this list, we would strongly advise you to ask staff at your gym to review your form or to monitor your form with a video for you to check if there are any mistakes. What we wouldn't recommend you doing is to look in the mirror because this will just heat the joints in your neck.

How you should position yourself:

  • Stance: Begin with your heels shoulder-width apart. Then turn your feet outwards by 30 degrees. Keep your entire foot flat on the floor. If your heels rise, it's a sign of form issues. Push your knees outwards in the same direction as your feet and lock them after each repetition.
  • Hips: While squatting, bend your hips and knees simultaneously. Move your hips back and down while pushing your knees outward.
  • Back: Ensure that when you squat, your lower back maintains a natural arch, similar to when you're standing. This means no rounding or excessive arching. Keep your back neutral. However, your upper back should arch to provide support for the bar. To achieve this, squeeze your shoulder blades and raise your chest.
  • Grip: Avoid attempting to support heavy weight with your hands. Let your upper back bear the load. Simply ensure you have a secure grip on the weight, using a medium grip that is narrower than your shoulders.
  • Elbows: Keep your elbows behind your chest, parallel to your back.
  • Head: Keep your head aligned with your torso. Do not look at the ceiling or your feet, and avoid turning your head sideways.

During the squat movement:

  • Breathing: Inhale deeply at the top, hold your breath at the bottom, and exhale at the top.
  • Unracking: Position the bar on your back with your feet under it, straighten your legs to unrack it, then walk back.
  • Chest: Lift your chest before unracking the bar, maintaining an upright and tight chest by taking a deep breath before descending into the squat.
  • Way Down: Bend both hips and knees simultaneously, pushing your hips back while your knees move outward. Keep your lower back in a neutral position.
  • Depth: Squat until your hips are lower than your knees; thighs parallel to the floor are not enough – you must break parallel.
  • Way Up: Raise your hips straight up, ensuring your knees are pushed outward, your chest is upright, and your head remains neutral.
  • Between Reps: Stand with locked hips and knees, take a breath, and prepare to maintain tension for the next repetition.
  • Bar Path: Ideally, the bar should travel in a vertical line over your mid-foot without any horizontal movement.

How to perform a squat:

  1. Setup: Position yourself in front of the bar. Grasp it firmly with a moderate grip. Place it on your upper back by crouching beneath the bar and lifting your chest.
  2. Unrack: Maneuver your feet beneath the bar. Lift it off the rack by extending your legs. Step back with your legs fully extended, ensuring your hips and knees are locked.
  3. Squat: Inhale deeply and hold your breath. Begin descending into a squat position. As you do, push your knees outward while moving your hips rearward, maintaining a neutral lower back.
  4. Achieve Adequate Depth: Continue the descent until your hips descend below the level of your knees. Keep in mind that having your thighs parallel to the ground is insufficient; you must surpass this point.
  5. Squat Up: Once you've broken the parallel point, initiate the ascent by squatting back up. Keep your knees pushed outward and your chest elevated. At the top of the movement, ensure your hips and knees are fully locked, and then exhale.

Muscles Worked:
Now that we've covered how to do a squat, let's talk about why you're doing it in the first place. Squats are one of the best compound exercises out there, working multiple muscles at a time, especially when working with high weight. Here's a list of the muscles involved in the exercise, ordered by muscle groups:

  1. Lower Body Muscles - Hamstrings, Glutes, Quads, Calves
  2. Back Muscles - Upper Back, Lower Back, Middle Back
  3. Core Muscles - Abdominals, Obliques
  4. Upper Body Muscles - Latissimus Dorsi (Lats), Trapezius (Traps), Rhomboids
  5. Hip and Thigh Muscles - Hip Abductors, Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL), Psoas Major and Iliacus (Hip Flexors)

But additionally, this exercise also improves your cardiovascular health because your heart has a lot to do during this exercise.

Safety Concerns:
Squatting is a fantastic way to build strength and muscle, but it's crucial to prioritize safety. Here are some common mistakes that you should always keep in mind while squatting:

  • Always Maintain Proper Form: Rounding your lower back is a recipe for disaster as it can lead to serious back injuries. Always maintain a neutral spine throughout the squat. If your form is compromised, lower the weight and work on improving it before proceeding. Proper setup and technique are your best allies in preventing injuries. Pay close attention to your form right from the beginning of the lift.
  • Train in a Squat Rack: Training in a squat rack with safety pins eliminates the need for a spotter and ensures your safety. You won't have to compromise your form to get back up if you encounter any difficulties.
  • Knee Positioning: Always ensure that your knees stay in the correct position and don't deviate from the proper path during the lift. Avoid letting them cave inward or overextend when descending; instead, keep them slightly over your feet.
  • Avoid Inadequate Depth: Quarter-repping your squats to lift heavier weights can be counterproductive. While you might work your quads, neglecting proper depth means your hamstrings and calves won't get adequately engaged, limiting your results. If you find yourself tempted to quarter-rep, consider lowering the weight or working to failure with proper form in a squat rack.


Mastering the squat demands dedication and a commitment to proper form. By following these safety tips and cues, you can now perform squats safely and effectively, ensuring a productive journey in your strength training routine. Remember that form should always take precedence over the amount of weight lifted, especially when starting out. Gradually, you can progress to handling heavier loads."

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This article can bee seen as a summary on how to safely perform a Squad in cas you want to read a way more detailed version including example imagery viedoes and more Tips we advise yout to read this article by Mehdi a belgium powerlifter:

How to Squat