The 5 Barbell Squat Exercises You Need in Your Workout Routine

Barbell squat variations are some of the most effective exercises you can perform in the weight room for both strength and muscle gain. In this article I will provide some of the most well-known of these variations that should already be a staple in your training programme, I will also provide some more niche variations that can add variety and be fun to try out.

6 min read
Sean's profile
Written by
Sean Klein
Published on
18/01/23
Last updated
18/01/23
In This Resource
  • Benefits of Barbell Squat Exercises
  • Athletic Performance
  • Health
  • Aesthetics
  • How To Use Barbell Squat Exercises
  • Strength
  • Hypertrophy
  • Balance and Coordination
  • The 5 Barbell Squat Exercises You Need in Your Workout Routine

Benefits of Barbell Squat Exercises

Athletic Performance

Strong muscular legs are an important part of so many sports it’s no surprise that lower body development with a barbell is so common in elite athletic programmes. Any contact sport or sport where speed is required can massively benefit from having strong and powerful legs. This can be achieved with the use of barbell squat exercises.

Health

The squatting movement pattern should be part of any resistance training programme that puts emphasis on health. It is one of the key movement patterns that allows us to move towards better health and movement through resistance training. Barbell back squat variations can be some of the squatting variations used to achieve improvements in health depending on a persons ability.

Aesthetics

Those looking to improve their leg muscles for aesthetic purposes or bodybuilding competitions should be using barbell squat exercises like those outlined here in order to get the maximal progress out of their training. These exercises are excellent for producing muscle gain, so make sure you’re not missing out by not adding them into your programme.

How To Use Barbell Squat Exercises

Strength

Barbell squatting variations like the back squat and front squat are the staple exercises for improving leg strength. There is a reason why these are one of the key components in olympic weightlifting training programmes, because they are so effective at inducing strength gains in the muscles of the legs. The best exercises for strength specific gains are the back and the front squat, while the lunge variations are more effective at muscle growth or as accessory exercises.

Hypertrophy

Gaining muscle with exercises like the back squat and barbell squat in lunge will be far more effective than any dumbbell or kettlebell alternatives, especially for more advanced individuals. Gaining muscle requires doing lots of volume (sets + reps) at moderate weights, exercises like lunge variations and back squats are ideal for this style of training.

Balance and Coordination

This is easy to forget but is a key component of both athletic performance and health. Developing balance and coordination with exercises like the B-Stance Squat and the barbell squat in lunge will be very beneficial to both health and performance.

The 5 Barbell Squat Exercises You Need in Your Workout Routine

The barbell back squat is the principle barbell squatting exercise. It really is a full body exercise with emphasis on the muscles in the legs. Learning this exercise and performing it regularly will enable you to have strong legs for life, improve your athletic performance and general health. It really is worth investing the time in learning this exercise.

The front squat is the best barbell squatting variation for developing the quads and the positions required to be successful in weightlifting making it a very popular barbell squatting exercise. It puts much less emphasis on the posterior chain compared to the barbell back squat. The core can be a limiting factor in this lift. The key is to ensure that good positions are created and maintained from the beginning of using this exercise.

The barbell squat in lunge in an excellent exercise for both athletes and people training for general health and wellness. It is one of my favourite squatting variations with a barbell as it allows the development of unilateral strength in a simple and effective way that is easy to maintain under high amounts of fatigue.

The rear foot elevated barbell squat in lunge is one of the most difficult exercises available in the gym. It should only be attempted by people who have a lot of experience both in the gym and in the lunge position as it requires a lot of strength just to be able to comfortably find the position prior to the lunge. Those who are novices or have mobility restrictions should avoid this exercise and stick to more simple lunge variations for the moment.

The b-stance squat is one of my favourite single leg exercise with a barbell for the squatting movement. It is difficult, as it requires a lot of discipline and control to maintain the weight being put on to the front leg, but if you’re an advanced individual you should be able to perform this exercise with heavy weights. It’s great as a secondary exercise for both the back and front squat as it will do a great job at improving single leg strength.

If you enjoyed this resource you can find more below, or try Programme, a fitness app that plans every workout for you based on your progress, equipment and lifestyle. This resource was written by Sean Richard Klein. Sean has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.

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