squats barbell exercise of the week

Exercise of the Week: Barbell Squats

To advance your workouts I will be providing you with weekly exercises that you can bring into your workout routine and giving you with tips on how to maximize your efficiency. This week’s exercise is squats using a barbell.

You may be asking what is so special about squats using a barbell? The first and most important reason is that the squat activates numerous muscles including hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves as well as your core (erector spinae, abs and obliques) to help you stabilize.

The second question you may be asking is how does a barbell squat differ from using a smith machine? (In case you’re not sure what a smith machine is, it usually consists of a barbell fixed to sliding rails allowing only vertical movement). A smith machine is great for a beginner because it introduces the movement and provides support for the lower back muscles. With that said, numerous studies have found that using a barbell alone activates even more muscles in your body and surges your bodies growth hormones to help you build muscle strength and size. Therefore the effect is multiplied and you see more growth and strength not only in your lower body but throughout your body.

Muscles used:
Primary – hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves.
Secondary – core including erector spinae, abs, obliques.

Points to focus on:

  • Feet shoulder width apart and eyes looking straight ahead
  • Knees should be directly above feet
  • Lower weight until your thighs are parallel with the floor (imagine coming down to having your butt on a bench)
  • Keep weight light and focus on keeping your abs tight
  • Natural arch in your back throughout movement
  • Extend back up until knees and hips are straight but don’t lock your knees

Common Mistakes:

  • Weight is too high and don’t come low enough so your thighs are parallel to floor
  • Forget to tighten abs through movement
  • Lock knees
  • Lean too forward and increase possibility of knee problems/pain
  • Back is not straight with natural alignment

Recommended Exercise Routine:
1 warm-up set of 12 repetitions with extra light weight
3 sets of 8 repetitions

Have any questions or thoughts about this exercise? Please leave a comment below…