The Squat

What is the Barbell Squat?

In more technical terms, the barbell squat is a closed kinetic chain compound movement with a targeted rate of perceived exertion (or RPE) anywhere between 5 and 10 on the modified borg’s scale.

In terms of functionality, the barbell squat is considered to be one of the most critical movements in the development of athletic capacity, lower body strength, central nervous system adaptation and reduction of injury risk in certain capacities.

This is all in connection to the fact that the barbell squat at its core is a direct mimicry of one of the most basic movements of the human body, with additional resistance being added to such a movement serving to improve the function of said body in totality.

What Muscles are Worked by the Barbell Squat?

Being among one of the most famous compound exercises, the barbell squat is capable of working a variety of muscle groups in varying capacities and intensities, with muscle groups undergoing more intense muscle group activation being dubbed primary mover muscles as they provide a larger amount of the force required to perform the exercise.

Succeeding muscle groups that are contracted in a dynamic capacity and otherwise aid in the performance of the primary mover muscles are also called secondary mover muscles; of which do not provide as much force as the primary mover muscles, but nonetheless are vital to the proper performance of the exercise.

Other muscle groups involved in the exercise in a synergistic or coactivating capacity so as to stabilize joints and the source of resistance are otherwise referred to as stabiliser muscle groups.


Squat Technique

Lifting of Heels

Among the various form cues that make up a proper barbell squat, the exerciser lifting their heels at the bottom of the repetition is one of the most frequently encountered. Fortunately, it is not a mistake with serious ramifications for the most part.

Nonetheless, it is important for the exerciser to ensure that their heels always remain in contact with the ground so as to ensure that they stay properly balanced, as well as allowing them to achieve a wider range of motion during the exercise.

Save for the fact that the exerciser is performing heel elevated squats specifically – where-in the exerciser is purposely elevating their heels throughout the entire repetition either via a wedge or plate.

Doing so targets more of the quadriceps femoris and puts less emphasis on the posterior chain and reduces training stimulus in the hamstrings and glutes.


Another common mistake made by exercisers is allowing their body to descend too rapidly during the first portion of the repetition – thereby affecting their form and placing the knees and lower back at risk of injury as stabiliser muscles are taxed by the greater momentum.

A repetition of the barbell squat should be performed in a slow and controlled manner, with every muscle group being activated thoroughly throughout the entire squat repetition.

The UK Powerlifting League is a direct affiliate to IPL. The UKIPL is owned and operated by Dayle Longford.

Rhyl LL18 1LR
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