What are back squats?

We all know the tremendous benefits of squats and how they build strength and power in your upper and lower body. Squats are a compound exercise that challenges almost all the muscles in your body such as calves, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors, and more. 

Now imagine adding resistance to this already powerful exercise! An amazing variation of squats is a back squat. Also known as barbell back squat, bar back squat, or the BB back squat, this is a challenging exercise that requires you to hold a barbell on your upper back. 

A barbell back squat also activates and works on all your muscle groups but with more tension and strength. As compared to a traditional squat, the BB back squat requires more core engagement and flexibility.

How are back squats done and what is the correct form?

Since it is a weighted barbell exercise, merely knowing how to do back squat is not enough. You need to master the back squat form to reap its benefits.

Follow these steps to do the bar back squat exercise:

  1. Stack the barbell to an appropriate height in the squat rack. Ensure that it is a little lower than your shoulders. 
  2. Face the barbell and step underneath it. 
  3. Grab the barbell with your hands on both sides.
  4. Lift it from the rack and place it on your upper back.
  5. Step back from the barbell rack and stand tall. Your feet should be slightly wider than hip-width.
  6. Your head and head should be in a neutral position and your chin should be tucked in throughout the movement. 
  7. Distribute your weight on your feet and engage your upper back and lats. 
  8. While rotating your shoulders, begin squatting by gently bending your knees, ankles, and hips.
  9. Keep lowering your body until your legs are almost parallel to the floor.
  10. Hold the position for a couple of seconds and begin moving upwards.
  11. Keep your chest high while squeezing your glutes. 
  12. Squeeze your quadriceps and glutes and return to the starting position.

Sets and reps of the back squat exercise: Beginners can start with 2-4 sets of 4-6 reps. Gradually increase your practice. 

Which are some variations of back squats?

Here are some of the most-effective variations of the back squat:

  1. Dumbbell back squat: As the name suggests, this back squat is done using one or two dumbbells. Also known as DB back squat, one of the most popular variations of dumbbell back squat is the Goblet squat. This is done by holding a dumbbell at your chest level and keeping your elbows out. The rest of the squat movements remain the same. 
  1. Low bar back squat/ Low back squat: As the name suggests, in this variation of back squat, the bar is placed lower on the shoulders. To do the low bar back squat, you need to pull your elbows back to create a shelf-like space with your deltoids. Pin the bar here tightly and lean forward a little. The rest of the movements of the low back squat remain the same. 
  1. High bar back squat: The high bar back squat version is usually the first one that people learn while working on their shoulders. To do the high bar back squat, engage your trap muscles and settle the bar on the shelf created by the tension in this area. Remember, the barbell is kept on the top of the shoulders and the rest of the movements remain the same.
  1. Box back squat: This is the perfect variation of back squat that works on your posterior chain. It also helps beginners and those who want to avoid stress on their knees. To do the box back squat, you need to lower with the barbell till your glutes come in contact with the plyometric box. 
  1. Tempo back squat: In this variation, you change the speed of the squatting movement by making it slower. The tempo can be slowed either in the upward or the backward movement. Forcing your muscles to move slowly in a tempo back squat increases their time under tension and in return improves their strength.  

What are the benefits of doing back squats?

Back squats mimic many daily activities such as sitting, lifting, and much more. This is why they are a popular exercise for improving one’s health. 

Here are some great reasons to include bar back squat in your workout routine:

  • One of the most important back squat benefits is that it is a compound exercise that recruits, activates, and challenges the muscles in your core and legs. This helps in building strength in your lower body that in turn improves your functionality and ability to lift weights in the gym.
  • When performed regularly, back squat exercises help in preventing the risk of injuries in your back and legs.
  • Variations of this exercise such as DB back squat, by adding resistance, help in preventing the loss of bone density. 
  • When you do back squat alternatives or their variations, it helps in bettering your flexibility and coordination. This prevents injuries and falls in your daily life. 
  • One of the best back squat benefits is that it burns calories and builds lean muscle mass, helping in weight loss.
  • Doing back squats doesn’t require an elaborate set-up. Just get a barbell and include this in your home exercises routine.

How to do back squats safely?

Here are some tips on how to master the back squat form to prevent injuries and gain its benefits:

  • To gain the benefit of a back squat workout, always squat deep.
  • Never collapse your knees. Instead, point them in the same direction as your toes.
  • If you have a history of pain or injuries, never start back squat workouts without talking to your doctor.
  • If you feel pain or dizziness while doing the back squat exercise, stop immediately. 


While back squat does have amazing benefits, if you want to see some solid results, it is essential to avoid doing the same exercise always. Always cycle between back squat alternatives and variations to avoid plateaus and keep yourself engaged. 

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February 4, 2022

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