Squat

What is the barbell squat?

The barbell squat is a simple and highly effective weight lifting exercise for the lower body. This is a compound exercise, meaning that it uses many different muscles to perform it.

The squat is one of the three official competitive powerlifting lifts (along with the deadlift and the bench press).

The barbell squat requires the exerciser to squat while supporting a barbell across the upper back/shoulders.

The bodyweight squat is another type of squat. This is an effective bodyweight exercise that does not use any extra weight.

What muscles does the squat use?

The main muscles used in the barbell squat are the front thigh (quadriceps), inner thigh (adductors), back thigh (hamstrings), buttocks (gluteous maximus), lower back (erector spinae), hip flexors and calves (gastrocnemius).

Many other muscles are used as fixators to support the back and abdomen and maintain stability throughout the frame.

Squat with barbell

Benefits of the squat

The barbell squat is a compound exercise, strengthening all the muscles in the body. It is highly effective exercise to develop muscle size and muscle toning in the thighs and buttocks. This is the best overall leg strengthening exercise there is.


The barbell squat also strengthens the bones, ligaments and tendons in the lower body. It is a must-have lift in your weight lifting routine if you want to improve the shape, muscle tone and development of your lower body.

Benefits of the squat:

More muscle

Stronger legs

Hip flexibility

Knee stability and strengthening

Fat loss

History of the barbell squat

The squat is an exercise everyone does without thinking about it. When we pick something up off the floor: we move into a sitting position then stand back up.

However, up until the 1950s the barbell squat was not a mainstream lift. The focus was mostly on the upper body when it came to weight lifting. The chest, arms and back were seen as more important in general than the legs for a long time.

squat-paul-anderson

Champion squatter Paul Anderson, who won Olympic gold in 1956

However, with the popularisation of the squat by Italy’s Marquis Alfred Pallavicinisoon and then pro wrestlers in the 1940s, the squat became recognised as the great physical conditioner it really is.

This lift is the best lift for leg development and it works every muscle in the body with its one basic movement. In the 1950s Paul Anderson squatted 600 pounds and since then the squat has been acknowledged as a true strength test.

Now the squat is firmly one of the ‘power three’ in competitive powerlifting, acknowledge as one of the most important lifts in the world alongside the bench press and the deadlift.

Read more about the squat:

Types of squat

Squat stance

How to perform the squat

Squat safety

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