Building Up To Back Squats

Back Squats are a great thing… and one of my favorite exercises.  Back squats can help you with a variety of goals: building strength, increasing muscle, generating power through the lower torso and basic alterations in body composition.

Full Squat11

So should a beginner just load up a bar and start squatting?? Ahh…. no. While back squats are amazing for a surplus of reasons, they are a fairly technical lift. And before you load up a bar, there are a few checkpoints you should tick off…

First off, you should be comfortable squatting. If you have never performed a squat before (insert eye roll here… we squat everyday to sit into chairs/couches/cars!) start with the basics: body weight squats. There are a lot of squatting variations (assisted, bodyweight, single leg, goblet, tempo, box etc) so you should already be a bad ass squatter before you step under the bar.

Second, understand bar placement, set up & load. There are two different ways to place a bar across your back: high on the traps and low on the traps. A high bar will produce greater load through the knees where as a low bar will target the hips more. Placing a bar upon your back will also shift your center of gravity. Understand how to maintain bar placement throughout your squat. Many beginner lifters unknowingly cave forward at the bottom of a squat (due to the bar pressing the chest forward) or try to raise from a deep position by extending the knees before the hips. Both errors can cause injury. Understand where the bar will want to pull you and how you’re going to counter that pull before loading up.

Third, get mobile. Back squats require more mobility than other weighted squats. As with most squats, flexibility through the hamstrings is needed to prevent rounding of the low back. Ankle mobility is also an asset to ensure the weight is evenly distributed throughout the foot with the majority in the heel. And hip mobility is needed to improve depth. But on top of those things, there needs to be mobility through the rotator cuffs and upper back. Without this mobility getting the bar into proper position is impractical.

She Squats

As always with anything new, start small. Get under the bar (without additional weight), feel comfortable and practice getting the bar to & from the rack. Once you move up to back squats & feel comfortable with them, the results are almost endless: improved functional movement (think of how many times each day you need to squat), increased mobility & balance, more strength.. I could go on.

Back squats are an amazing exercise.. but they’re not for beginners. For more information on how squat, technique, safety & progressions Get In Touch or fill out my Client Application to begin to improve your squat- even if you’re just looking for a one off technical session, every little tweak can help your squat.

Just because you can’t currently squat doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Everyone starts somewhere and the results are always worth it.

Happy Squatting ๐Ÿ™‚