Whether you are training your legs for tone, mass or strength, squats are one of the single most productive exercise we can include in our training. Many variations for this exercise exist, and they can be performed with several types of resistance ranging from body weight, resistance bands, or heavy dumbbells, and barbells loaded with hundreds of pounds. For those serious about training their legs, the two most popular variations of this exercise are the traditional barbell back squat, and the front squat.
With a weight-loaded barbell resting across the back of your shoulders, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and grasp the bar with both hands. Shift your weight into your heels, and squat down until the tops of your thighs are just below the tops of your knees. Drive your heels downward into the floor, and extend your legs until you are standing upright again. Keep your core braced, and your back straight throughout the entire movement. With practice, you should be able to squat down until your hamstrings are pushed up against your calves. This will mean less weight, but the larger range of motion will reap greater results, than a heavier incomplete movement.
Stand with a weight-loaded barbell resting across the tops of your anterior deltoids, or the front parts of your shoulders, in front of your neck, and use a clean grip. In this position, your elbows should be held high throughout the entire lift. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Keeping your core braced and your back vertical, squat down until your hamstrings touch your calves. Extend your legs and stand up, returning to the starting position.
Here is a method I often use to replace back squats, and have found it to be very effective in increasing strength, as well as lessening the load that my back and knees have to deal with.
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