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How to Do the Squat Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

The squat lift exercise is arguably one of the best overall weightlifting exercises for building lower body and leg power and strength. Because this is a compound exercise that engages multiple muscles and joints at once, it takes some instruction and practice to master safely.

If just beginning, work with a trainer to learn proper technique. You can use the squat as part of a strength workout, especially for the lower body.


Squats build lower body muscle strength, endurance, and power. Additionally, they engage the core and improve strength and stability in the trunk and upper body. The most elite and pro athletes use the squat as the basis of a well-rounded weight training program.

The secondary muscles include the erector spinae of the back, transverse abdominis, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, adductor magnus, soleus, gastrocnemius, and hamstrings.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Always have one or two competent spotters available. Position the squat rack so the bar sits on your upper back (trapezius muscles). Position your hands evenly on the bar and back up and under the bar, so it rests comfortably on your shoulders.

  1. Maintaining a wide stance, place your feet squarely under the bar and lift it from the rack using the legs. Keep the weight centered; do not lift from your heels or toes.
  2. Slowly bend your knees while keeping your torso erect. Do not lean forward. Keep your hips under the bar at all times. At the bottom of your movement, the angles of your knee joint and hip joint are nearly equal. Never relax or drop to the bottom position. Maintain constant, slow, and controlled muscle tension. Inhale as you lower.
  3. Slowly return to starting position while keeping your torso and back erect and hips under the bar. Exhale as you push through your heels and stand tall.
  4. Repeat as many times as desired for a set. Try one to three sets of six to 10 squats to start.

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