May 17, 2022
Breaking Down the Squat


I consider the squat the most important exercise for most athletes. It is the number one movement in all of my strength programs. I tell my clients that athletes are built from the ground up. If they want to run fast and jump high, they must have a strong base, and that all starts with the squat exercise.

Below is a breakdown of the squat. And here are some cues that may help:

Bodyweight Squat:

1. Push the hips back

2. Keep chest up and back flat

3. Sit back toward your heels

4. As you go down, push your knees away from each other

5. Control the squat on the way down and come up faster

Goblet/Kettlebell/Dumbbell squat:

The cues are the same except you want to hold the weighted object at shoulder height. Keep the arms tight to the upper body. Now since you have a weight in front of you, you can really sit back into the squat.

Front Squat:

The cues are the same except you want to hold the barbell on your shoulders. The bar should rest on the front of the shoulders and clavicles. Keep your elbows up so the bar stays in a good position.

Back Squat:

The cues are the same except the bar should rest on the back of the shoulders at the base of the neck. The scapula should be retracted.

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Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat:

1. Hop the front foot out so your knee stays behind your toe as you descend

2. Push the hips back as you descend

3. Keep chest up and back flat

4. Top of the thigh should be parallel to the ground

Micah Kurtz, MS, CSCS*D, RSCC*D, USAW, FMS, NASE, is the 2016 National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) National High School Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @KurtzM3 or visit his website at: