How to Do a Proper Squat With a Bar

Barbell squats can strengthen and shape your lower body.
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If the many body-weight squats you've been doing haven't seemed to firm and strengthen your tush and thighs the way they once did, kick your workout up a notch. Rather than giving up or sticking with the same routine, simply add the resistance of a barbell to challenge yourself and take your workout to the next level. Start with just the barbell, and as you get stronger, slowly add more weight. Come summer, you'll be grateful you didn't give up on your butt and legs.

    Step 1

    Position a barbell across the back of your shoulders at the base of your neck. Spread your feet shoulder-width apart and grasp the bar with an overhand grip, positioning your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. To do an overhand grip, your thumbs go under the bar and your remaining fingers wrap over the bar.

    Step 2

    Suck in your belly so your abdominal muscles contract and help support your lower back. Imagine trying to make your tummy as small as you can to fit into those jeans that are just a little too tight.

    Step 3

    Look straight forward, bend your knees, sit your buttocks back and slowly lower your hips toward the floor. Really push your butt backward as if you're sitting on a chair -- you don't want your knees to go over your toes, and you want your back to stay straight.

    Step 4

    Pause for one second when your knees are bent about 90 degrees and your thighs are parallel to the floor.

    Step 5

    Push off on your heels, straighten your knees and raise your shoulders and hips at the same time. Push your hips slightly forward at the top of the exercise and squeeze your butt cheeks together. Immediately start the next rep.


    • Do reps and sets according to your own fitness level.


    • Inhale as you squat down and exhale as you push up, making sure to fully exhale at the top of the exercise.


    • Perform barbell squats in front of a mirror so you can check and correct your form.


    • If you're using heavy weight, use a squat rack to hold the bar up as you position yourself under it.


    • Alternatively, position the bar across the front of your shoulders, raise your arms to shoulder level, cross your forearm and grasp the bar so your palms face down. Placing the bar on the front of your shoulders puts more emphasis on your quadriceps.


    • Consult your health care provider before starting a new exercise routine, especially if you have health concerns, injuries or medical conditions.


    • To avoid injuries, avoid this exercise if you have a weak back, or do the exercise while extending your arms at your sides and holding dumbbells in your hands instead.

    Things You'll Need

    • Barbell

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