GUIDE: Become A Master Of The Squat

heavy lifting

Why drink and drive when you can squat and fly?

The squat is one of the most natural and leg workouts in bodybuilding. It’s also a standard position for bearing massive weight. The squat is an exercise we’ve all performed and think we’re doing right. After all there’s not much to it right? Wrong. Like all full body exercises, the squat is a movement that requires a perfect balance of many moving parts. Everything from breath to foot position should be considered before attempting this seemingly simple move. So do you want to master the squat or continue doing it half-assed like the rest of the lames at the gym? We thought so, read on.

Pre Squat

Before even attempting the squat there’s somethings you want to consider. A pre-squat warm up is essential to avoiding injury and maximizing your workout. Breathing correctly and having a straight but rigid spine will help give you stability to up your gains.


We know it may seem monotonous and you do it without thinking anyway but being mindful of your breathing can effect not only your numbers but your life. You’d be surprise at how many times we clam up or stop breathing completely before a big task. Instead of breathing up and down try breathing in and out. Put your hand on your collar bone, if it goes up when you breath in then you’re doing it wrong. Try belly breathing, make sure your belly expands and contracts when you breathe out and in, you will physically see your rib cage going out and in when you’re doing it right.

Rigid Spine

Everyone knows you’re suppose to keep your spine straight but few people keep in mind to keep their torso rigid. This goes hand in hand with breathing, when you breathe out try and push out your obliques also. This should give you a flat stomach but visibly protruding obliques. Don’t overdo it now, it should feel fairly natural, the main thing is to make sure your center is firm and solid for great posture.

Other things to Consider

Things like lat engagement and clenching your cheeks (yes the bottom set) are also important before squatting. You can get lat engagement by simply pinching your shoulders back. The main thing to remember is that you are one solid unit, if a heavy weight was to fall on your shoulders from your standing position you should be able to bear it.

On The Bar

Now that you’ve been practicing your stance and your breathing let’s move onto the real deal stuff – the barbell.

Unweighted bar

Get under the bar and get that good stance we spoke about earlier. This is where you want to work out all of your last minute kinks. So from top to bottom here’s how it goes.

Head neutral

Not to the floor, not to the sky. Find a spot where the floor meets the wall and hold your gaze.

Bend the bar

Actively pull into the bar with your two hands, this will help your posture and keep the bar tight to your body. You want your hands to be just wide enough to hold the securely behind, too lose and you won’t engage your lats.

Root your feet

You want to engage your feet but not the way you’re probably thinking. As opposed to just applying downward pressure try twisting your feet into the ground. The conscious effort to to pull your heels in will not only apply downward pressure but will pull your knees into optimal position.

At this point there’s nothing to it but to do it, or rather, the point where you’ve got to lift some heavy ass weights. We suggest you take your time and go through each of the stages we spoke about before. You’re breathing, your stance, and your on the bar last minute checklist. You’re going to notice that you’re still making some of the same mistakes but don’t be too hard on yourself, in time you will break those bad habits. We recommend you lift with a friend to make sure you’re doing all your reps correct to form. Start off small until your position becomes automatic and then start the youtube videos..

And hey – once you’ve mastered this or if you’re already a master check out the variations below to add something new to your routine.

Jump Squat

  1. Cross your arms over your chest.
  2. With your head up and your back straight, position your feet at shoulder width.
  3. Keeping your back straight and chest up, squat down as you inhale until your upper thighs are parallel, or lower, to the floor.
  4. Now pressing mainly with the ball of your feet, jump straight up in the air as high as possible, using the thighs like springs. Exhale during this portion of the movement.
  5. When you touch the floor again, immediately squat down and jump again.
  6. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Kettlebell Pistol Squat

  1. Pick up a kettlebell with two hands and hold it by the horns. Hold one leg off of the floor and squat down on the other.
  2. Squat down by flexing the knee and sitting back with the hips, holding the kettlebell up in front of you.
  3. Hold the bottom position for a second and then reverse the motion, driving through the heel and keeping your head and chest up.
  4. Lower yourself again and repeat.

That about wraps it up. Follow through the guide above and you’ll be a master of the squat in no time. Make sure to hit us up in the comments with any other tips that you think makes you a master of the squat. Stay pumped.

Austin Letorney
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.