Squats with a barbell - the best exercise for the lower part of the body

Squats with a barbell – the best exercise for the lower part of the body

Squats with a barbell on the shoulders is the best exercise, which involves virtually all the muscles of the lower body. They not only add size and strength to the front muscles of the thigh, but also activate gluteal muscles, hip muscles, lower and middle back, hamstrings and even calves.

The evolution of modern gyms and sports clubs from free weights to simulators has created a certain paradox. On the one hand, the simulators allow you to quickly and efficiently perform one exercise after another without unnecessary effort and hassle, as happens when working with a bar, when you have to put on, and then remove pancakes from the neck. On the other hand, the excessive use of simulators, especially when training the lower body, deprives the muscle of the main reasons for the increase in strength and power that arise with multi-joint and multimuscular activation.

Squats with a barbell
Squats with a barbell

Muscle structure and function

Despite the fact that squats involve a lot of muscles, because of their size, the main stress focus is on the quadriceps muscle of the thigh (quadriceps), which refers to the front muscles of the thigh. The quadriceps muscle consists of four heads.

Three of them are closely related to each other: it is lateral (vastuslateralis), medial wide (vastusmedialis) and intermediate wide (vastusintermedius). They are located on the front of the femur. The rectus femoris is the fourth muscle that forms the quadriceps muscle. Unlike the other three, it originates on the crest of the abdominal bone of the hip bone and over the indentation (acetabulum) where the femoral head is located.

The straight muscle of the thigh goes straight down from the hip to the knee. Tendons of the lateral broad muscle, along with tendons of the medial and intermediate heads, as well as the straight muscle form the tendons of the quadriceps. Read the article about training for triceps growth.

The quadriceps tendons are attached to the patella and slide downwards, where they are called patella ligaments. The patellar ligaments are attached to the tuberosity of the tibia, the uneven portion of the tibia of the tibia. Together, the three heads and the straight muscle form a single structure that unbends the leg in the knee. The straight thigh muscle is significantly less active when the leg is bent at the knee (for example, the initial position when doing leg extensions in the simulator), but it is of great help in the upper phase of squatting. The other three heads are strongly activated during sit-ups with the bar to the parallel.

Squats with a barbell on the shoulders until parallel with the floor

Squats with a barbell
Squats with a barbell
  • Place the Olympic neck on the racks so that it is at the level of your chest. Preheat your knees with small squats with light weight before performing heavier approaches. Set the height of the safety bar on the posts about 5 cm above your lower squat.
  • Most gyms and sports clubs have special soft rollers that are fastened around the neck to reduce the load on the trapeze. For these purposes, you can also wrap a towel around the neck.
  • Grasp the bar with a wide closed grip. Start your neck by the neck, bending your knees slightly. Arrange the neck on the shoulders and upper part of the trapezius muscles.
  • Place your feet shoulder width apart. Raise the neck on the shoulders from the starting position on the racks by extending the legs in the knees.
  • Take a step back – this will be enough that it would not hurt the pillars of the pillars with the neck. Spread the legs slightly wider than the shoulders, the socks slightly unfolded outward. The head and, especially, the back should be kept straight, while maintaining a natural deflection in the lower back.
  • Controllably start to lower the pelvis to the floor (the movement is as if you sit on an invisible chair) until the thighs are parallel to the floor and the angle in the knee is 90 degrees. It is not recommended to go below the parallel.
  • After you have reached the parallel with the floor, you should start lifting with a power, but a smooth movement. In this case, the back is strained and straight, the head looks forward both during the descent phase and during the ascent phase. Movements end when the legs are completely straightened in the knee joints.
Squats with a barbell
Squats with a barbell

All four quadriceps heads take an active part during the ascent. Nevertheless, the relative degree of muscle activity will be different for them. The tension in three closely related heads decreases as you approach the top of the squat (leg extension in the knee). In contrast, the straight muscle of the thigh is not much involved in the lower part, but its activity is greatly increased in the upper third of the movement. Gluteal muscles and hamstrings are the strongest thigh extensors and come into operation during the ascent phase in squatting. The muscle, straightening the spine, is isometrically contracted throughout the movement, in order to keep the back straight.

There is a misconception that success will come only if you crawl out every time from the gym on the day of squats. However, one should not forget that often excessive fatigue is associated with improper technique of performing squats (for example, a strong forward slope, squats not in full amplitude, etc.). Of course, you must exercise hard, but you also need to feel the weight and focus on the quadriceps during the exercise. After all, the main goal is not to take as much weight as possible, but fully use the muscles of the legs in order to further increase their strength and volume.