The Squat Exercise: How to Build Lower Body Strength with Proper Technique

Squat Exercise
Squat Exercise
Image Credit: Jeff Nippard (see video below)

The squat exercise is great for building lower body strength. This exercise involves lifting a barbell while keeping your back straight and engaging various muscles in your body.

In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide to the squat exercise, including its benefits, what body parts it targets, the equipment you need, the steps for doing the workout, and mistakes to avoid.

Benefits of the Squat Exercise

The squat exercise is not only beneficial for building lower body strength, but it can also improve your overall health and wellness. Here are some of the benefits of the squat exercise:

Increased Mobility: It can help improve your mobility by strengthening your lower body muscles and increasing your range of motion. It can make everyday movements, such as bending down or standing up, easier and more comfortable.

Boosted Metabolism: It is a compound exercise that engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously. This can lead to an increased metabolic rate, allowing you to burn more calories throughout the day.

Improved Posture: It targets the muscles responsible for maintaining good posture, including the core, lower back, and glutes. Strengthening these muscles can improve your posture, reducing the risk of back pain and other related conditions.

Reduced Risk of Injury: It strengthens the lower body muscles, improving balance and stability and reducing the risk of falls and related injuries. Moreover, it can help protect the joints from damage by reducing the impact of everyday movements.

Improved Mental Health: Regular physical activity, including squat exercise, has been linked to improved mental health, reducing the risk of depression, anxiety, and stress. It can also increase self-esteem and confidence, leading to a more positive outlook on life.

What Body Parts are Impacted by the Squat Exercise?

The squat exercise primarily targets the leg muscles, specifically the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. These muscles work together to lift weight and stabilize your lower body.

The squat exercise also engages other muscles, such as the core and lower back muscles.

Equipment You Need to Complete the Squat Exercise

To perform a squat exercise, you will need a barbell and weight plates appropriate for your fitness level. You will also need a squat rack or a power rack to hold the barbell during the exercise.

It is crucial to choose a weight that allows you to perform 8–12 reps with proper form, so adjust the weight accordingly.

Steps for Doing the Squat Exercise

Step 1: Assume a standing position with your feet positioned shoulder-width apart and slightly turned outward. Maintain an upright chest posture and contract your core muscles to stabilize your body.

Step 2: Place the barbell on your upper back, slightly below your neck, and grasp the bar with an overhand grip.

Step 3: Lift the bar off the rack and step back with both feet.

Step 4: Slowly lower your body by bending your knees and hips, keeping your back straight and your chest up.

Step 5: Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground or as low as you can go while maintaining proper form.

Step 6: Push through your heels and stand back up to the starting position.

Remember to exhale as you stand up and inhale as you lower your body. Keep your knees in line with your toes, and avoid leaning forward or backward. Here is a video for completing the squat exercise.

Mistakes to Avoid while doing the Squat Exercise

While squatting is a simple exercise, it can be challenging to perform correctly, and people make a few common mistakes that can decrease the effectiveness and increase the risk of injury. Here are some mistakes to avoid:

  • Avoid letting your knees cave in or bow out while squatting. Keep your knees in line with your toes throughout the movement.
  • Don’t lift the weight too quickly or use a weight that is too heavy for your fitness level. This can strain your muscles and increase the risk of injury.
  • Avoid rounding your back or leaning forward excessively. This can strain your back muscles and lead to back pain.


The squat exercise is an excellent compound exercise to build lower body strength, improve mobility, and burn calories. By following the steps in this article, you can perform the exercise with proper form and avoid common mistakes that can lead to injury.

Remember to start with an appropriate weight, engage the right muscles, and keep your back straight throughout the exercise.

To achieve a well-rounded full-body workout routine, you can also include exercises that target your upper body, like the barbell row.