Why Back Squats Are Key To Leg Strength Development and Calorie Burn

Why Back Squats Are Key To Leg Strength Development and Calorie Burn

The back squat is one of the most popular exercises in the gym for building mass and strength in the legs and hips. It is a whole body exercise targeting a large amount of muscle groups, hence making it a time efficient and useful addition to any training programme.


The back squat can be used at various stages of physical preparation. At an entry level it can be used to develop basic coordination, movement patterning and postural strength. For people with more training experience, it can be loaded up with weight to develop strength, power or hypertrophy depending on the sets and reps.

Back Squat Key Muscles Worked

The back squat is a multi joint hip and knee exercise. Some of the largest muscle groups of the body are worked during the back squat. The key muscles worked and their functions are as follows:

Glute complex - for hip extension
Quadriceps - for knee extension
Hamstrings - for hip extension
Adductors - to assist hip extension


Additionally the erector spinae, lattisimus dorsi, adductors and abdominals work to stabilise the pelvis and spine.

The amount of muscle groups involved make this a time efficient exercise both in terms of strength development and calories burned.

Back Squat Technique

There are many variations but the most common way to perform a back squat is to place a barbell on your upper back as a means of resistance.

The bar is held on the shoulders in an upright posture with the chest high. Movement is initiated by pushing hips backwards and bending the knees simultaneously. The descent should continue until hips break parallel with knees. At that point, an upward movement should be initiated by forcefully extending the hip and knees.

The chest should remain high in order to maintain a straight back position throughout. The loading of this exercise can be increased as long as form is maintained. At entry level, this exercise can be completed with a wooden bar or empty bar.

Practical Applications For Any Training Goal

This is a versatile exercise. Detailed below are suggested applications for the amount of sets x repetitions of the exercise for different stages of training and training goals you might have:


Rehabilitation - Specific to injury and person
Entry level/beginner - 3 sets x 10 reps
Strength development - 3 sets x 8 reps
Hypertrophy - 5 sets x 10 reps

Power with heavy weights - 3 sets x 3 reps

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