The barbell is generally set on a rack to slightly under the height of the lifter's shoulders and then loaded with plates. The lifter ducks under to place the bar behind the neck and then grasps the bar on either side before standing up straight to lift the bar out of the rack.
The knees and hips are then bent and the chest stays high as the weight is lowered. There are two legitimate styles of squat:
- Powerlifting-style: The stance is broadened to shoulder width or larger, the bar is set low on the shoulders, and the knees are bent until the crease of the hip reaches the knees (a low depth also called parallel or powerlifting-legal).
- Weightlifting-style: The feet are kept at hip width, the bar is set high on the shoulders, and the knees are bent until the hamstrings come into contact with the calves (a very low depth also called ass-to-grass).
The weight is then lifted back to standing position.
Only a barbell with plates is required, however some people will use a back belt.
Squats are generally performed for 1 to 6 repetitions per set in order to avoid fatigue and possible back injury.
- Quarter Squat: Typically what you see in the gym, where the lifter lowers the bar by a few inches until the angle of the back of the knee is around 120 degrees. However, when used deliberately in a program combined with an acceptable squat depth, this can assist in getting used to the feeling of very large weights.
- Front Squat: The barbell is loaded on the collarbones with the elbows forward. Or two kettlebells are used in the rack position.
- Goblet Squat: A single kettlebell or dumbbell is held in the front; excellent for flexibility work.
- Zercher Squat: (Unusual) The barbell is loaded in the crooks of the elbows.
- Belt squat: To reduce spinal compression a special belt may be used to hang a barbell under the legs.
- Pistols or Single-leg Squats: With or without weight, the lifter squats on a single leg down to acceptable depth.