Barbell Squats 

Technique Summary

Position the barbell on your neck/shoulders. Take an overhand grip of the bar. With your toes pointing out and fe et shoulder width apart, squat until your thighs make a 40 degree angle with your calves. Inhale as you lower the weight. Exhale on the way up.

If you don't like reading, and only choose to read more about one exercise, make the squat it. 

Technique Details

The Squat is a key bodybuilding exercise. The movement involves almost every muscle fiber and your entire cardiovascular system. Before you begin the exercise, position the barbell at chest level. This will make eat easy to position the bar on your neck/shoulders and lift it off the rack. There are two ways to hold the barbell. You could either hold it above your shoulders on your trapezius or a little lower, on your shoulders and trapezius. Position the bar in a way that’s most comfortable for you. Another thing to consider is how you grip the bar. You could either have an overhand grip with your thumb on the same side as your fingers, or your thumb opposing your fingers. If you are just starting out, we recommend you take a full grip, with your thumbs opposing your fingers. The full grip will help you balance weight and prevent the bar from slipping out. 

Generally the thumb should go onto the same side as your fingers, particularly with heavier weight. This will help you keep your wrist and forearms straight, eliminating unnecessary strain. Holding this grip is acceptable because your shoulders and your trapezius support the weight. The overhand grip just helps to hold it steady in place. If you are performing the exercise correctly placing the thumb opposite your fingers should not be offering any additional support. 

Keep your elbows back. This will help prevent rounding of the back. Once you have a good grip, and have positioned the weight correctly, place your feet shoulder width apart, toes pointing slightly out, push up, and take the bar of the rack. Take one or two steps back. It is critical that you position your feet at shoulder width with toes pointing slightly out. One thing to note here, the feet don't necessarily have to be pointed straight out; they should point in the direction of where your knees bend. As you squat, you want your knees to go over your toes. A good rule of thumb is to consider the placement of your foot when you walk. If you walk with your toes pointing slightly out, then that's your position. If you keep your toes facing forward then that's the way you should squat. Make sure that you are comfortable and it feels natural.  

In performing the exercise you should keep your chest out, your back straight, feet perfectly flat, and look directly ahead. Now you are ready to squat. Lower the weight. Keep in mind that your hips are at the center of this exercise, and as such, the movement should come from your hips. As you move down maintain the bar in the same line. Lean forward and bring your hips back. Again, ensure that your knees go over (not past) your toes and in the same direction. You should move down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Depending on your body structure, you could do a complete squat, moving hips lower than your ankles. Going further down will place more emphasis on your hamstrings. Then push up from your heels and bring the weight up. I'd like to once again note that your feet should be flat on the floor and the weight should be evenly distributed across it. Come up in a controlled manner. Don't push up quickly and lock out your knees. Exhale at the top. Inhale on the way down.

Some people may find it difficult to go down even to a point where your hamstrings are parallel to the floor. If this is the case, then you could make temporary use of a heel block.  I say temporary because you are better off by working on your flexibility then by using props. Many experts advise against using foot blocks because they make it more difficult to balance and may sacrifice form of the movement and lead to injury. The heel block will allow your heels to elevate slightly leaving the front part of your foot on the floor. This will allow you to go further down.