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Exercise 101: Back Squat Using Free Weights

Name of Exercise —Free weight back squat
Purpose —To develop strength in the legs, hips, and back
Muscles Used —Muscles of the thighs and buttocks

Starting Position:

Note: This exercise can be performed using a barbell or dumbbells.

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Downward Movement:

Upward Movement:

Trainer Tip:

It is critical that you remember to:

Repetitions, Sets, and Weight:

The number of repetitions (reps) and sets you should do depends on your strength goals. In general, muscle strength works to increase basic function of the muscle and is the typical workout choice. Muscle endurance is important to people who participate in endurance activities such as running or biking, and muscle power is beneficial for athletes who need to use sudden quick movements (eg, sprinting, basketball, football). Beginners should begin with a basic routine and gradually move toward a strength, endurance, or power routine.

Beginner : 1 set of 8 to 10 reps
Muscle Strength : 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Muscle Endurance : 1 to 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps
Muscle Power : 1 to 3 sets of 3 to 5 reps

Use a weight that is heavy enough to perform the desired number of reps and sets for your skill level using good form. Once you are able to perform more reps and sets than is outlined in your category, try to increase the weight you lift by 5% to 10%. Your strength goals may change as you progress.


American College of Sports Medicine

American Council on Exercise


Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology

Healthy Living Unit


Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. 2nd ed. Human Kinetics; 2000.

News and Publications. American College of Sports Medicine Website. Available at: Accessed January 17, 2008.