Back Squats

Exercises | Written by Jon Chambers | Updated on 14 October 2021

The faint of heart have probably already left the site. Cowards and back squats don’t mix. I don’t understand it, but I rarely see others at the gym squatting with anything close to parallel depth. The people that I do see squat have garbage form; I worry for their safety. Not cool.

Yet, if you educate yourself on proper form and practice, you’ll have no issue picking it up. This exercise will separate the men from the boys and the women from the girls. In my personal opinion, back squats are the best exercise you could ever do. And I’ll tell you why:

  • If you don’t have enough mobility, you won’t be able to squat properly with good form. If you can’t get into a strong and powerful position, you will be severely limited in every athletic or strength training endeavor that you undertake. This isn’t a thing that you “either have or don’t” though. You just have to work at it. Your first time under the bar will be ugly. That’s okay. Keep going and keep practicing. It may be counterintuitive, but lifting weights is a highly technical skill. The longer you stick with this, the more you will realize that.
  • Thoracic Extension. This is a fancy way of saying your ability to stay upright with a heavy load pulling (deadlifts) or pushing (squats) against your upper spine. If you can squat 405 with proper form and a strong, upright spinal position, not only will you be strong, you will also have a healthy, supple upper back and spine.
  • Doing abs is helpful and recommended if you want to develop your physique holistically. However, crunches and leg raises aren’t going to give you true core strength. That is only going to come from handling heavy loads. This type of core strength is what keeps you physically healthy and injury free. Squats done with proper form will build your intra-abdominal wall, which is what will keep you from getting hip, groin, and hernia injuries. You don’t want to mess around with that stuff.
  • Muscular Development. Your lower body (posterior chain + legs) is comprised of your glutes, abductors, adductors, quads, hamstrings, and calves. As you can see, that makes up a majority of your bodyweight. There are additional smaller muscles that comprise your hip compartment, but the big ones are described above. Squatting with proper form (notice how I keep saying it?) will develop all areas of your lower body.
  • Hormonal response. I already touched on this earlier. This s a real result of training and will promote a higher anabolic environment for your entire body. In short, anabolic just means “muscle building.” This is a good thing.

If you aren’t sold on squats by now it’s probably not going to happen. When I first started squatting and training 6 years ago, I could barely do 95 pounds. Just two months ago I squatted 475 pounds at USAPL Raw Nationals. I’m not just talking about it. If I’m telling you how important it is, you gotta know I mean it.

You should perform squats 1-3 times per week depending on your goals.

About the Author

Squatting 500 pounds on an ohio rogue bar with a sports hernia

Jon Chambers

Jon Chambers is a powerlifter, strength coach, sports hernia expert, and writer involved in the strength training community for almost a decade on a mission to create the best strength and fitness guides on the web.