The back squat involves placing a weighted barbell across the backs of your shoulders as you bend your hips and knees to move toward the floor. You may regularly include the back squat in your lower body workout routine. Although most of the muscles of the leg are involved in some way during the exercise, the quadriceps are primarily targeted, and the glutes, adductors and hamstrings are among those that support its movement
To do a proper back squat, position a weighted, Olympic barbell just above chest height on a squat rack. Duck under the bar to place it on the back of the shoulders and grasp it with an overhand grip. Your hands should be placed shoulder-width distance apart or slightly wider. Lift the bar up to dismount it from the rack. With your feet hip-width distance apart or slightly wider and your knees and toes facing forward, bend your knees and hips at the same time -- pushing your buttocks down as if sitting in an invisible chair. Lower to the point at which your upper thighs are parallel to the floor. Extend your knees and hips as you rise up and stand to complete one full repetition.
The muscles you are primarily targeting during the back squat are the quadriceps. This four-headed muscle of the femur lies at the front of the thigh. You use your quadriceps anytime you bend your knees, such as during walking, jumping, running and, of course, squatting.
The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle of the buttocks. During a squat, the gluteus maximus extends the femur and provides stability when your thigh is bent. It also stabilizes the pelvis. Back squats are important in building glute strength. Without it, other muscles have to bear the work of the glutes, thereby leading to muscle imbalance and injury.
Hamstrings and Adductors
The hamstrings, which are a four-part muscle at the back of the thigh, are intrinsic to the hip and knee movement that occurs during a squat. They work during the upward and downward phase of the exercise. The adductors stabilize your thighs during the squat. These inner thigh muscles prevent the knees and hips from awkwardly rolling inward as you sit down.
Squats are a full-body exercise, engaging many other muscles as stabilizers and assisters. When doing a squat, you should brace the muscles of your core to keep your back from arching or sagging. The bracing activates the erector spinae that lie along the spine as well as the abdominal muscles of the rectus abdominus and transverse abdominus. The muscles of the outer hip and buttock area, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus, also assist stabilization. Your calf muscles support your weight during the squat.