The 4 Components of a Perfect Low Bar Squat

Legs | Strength Training 3 min Read

Written by

Keith Hansen

There are a million moving parts in the low bar squat.

Anyone who has tried to coach another on squatting well, or has watched video of themselves squatting knows it can be overwhelming.

Butt out. Chest up. Shoulders back. Head down.

Sometimes when I’m teaching a beginner they will stop squatting to wait for my instruction, and the only thing I can tell them is to just keep going.

There is so much going on in a squat it takes a few reps to process everything and deliver feedback.

In this article are the 4 things to watch for when learning to squat.

These 4 components are present in every perfect squat.

I highly recommend you take video of yourself squatting and watch it for these four things. If you still have questions, DM us on instagram for feedback.

Planted Heels

If there is one thing I had to look at to judge the technique of a squat it would be the heels.

I can stand behind a client and look at only their heels to know if everything else in the squat is going well.

A perfect squat shows no motion in the heels. No rolling from outside to inside. No lifting. Just stillness.

Heels that move during the squat will tell you that your weight is not staying balanced on your feet.

If the heels lift I know either your weight has shifted to your toes, you are squatting too low, or you are in desperate need of ankle mobility.

You could also be wearing crappy shoes. Try squatting barefoot to really check your form.

Vertical Bar Path

Bar path is an easy one.

If you watch a squat from the side and drop a vertical line from the end of the barbell straight down it should cross the middle of the foot.

If you watch a perfect squat the barbell will follow this vertical line perfectly down and up.

Any deviation from this line will result in a shift in balance (watch the heels for this one). A major deviation or a minor deviation at a heavy load will lead to either a good morning squat or a failed rep.

Check out our video on the best bar path for the Low Bar Squat.

Foot Femur Alignment

Everyone’s perfect squat stance will be unique.

Wide, narrow, feet turned out 35 degrees, feet turned out 20 degrees. Your perfect squat is like your thumbprint—it is solely yours.

With that said you can tweak your stance and still have great squats. Move the feet out, turn the feet in, sit back less, stay more upright.

But something that can never change is what I call foot/femur alignment.

In a perfect squat there is no room for error in your foot/femur alignment.

This means that whatever direction your foot is pointing your upper thigh better point the same damn way through the entire squat.

Zero Buttwink

The dreaded buttwink.

The best way to fight it? Control your depth.

No good squat starts with buttwink, but all perfect squats end when buttwink arrives.

The start of buttwink is lumbar flexion, and it is caused by your body doing whatever it takes to go lower in the squat when you demand it to.

The fix is to only squat as low as you can without buttwink.

Is buttwink the worst thing possible? No.

Anyone I know will have some buttwink when squatting to parallel, but excessive lumbar flexion is bad, and your perfect squat has no buttwink.

After mastering the four components check out The Seriously Strong Beginner Program and The Seriously Strong Intermediate Program.

The Beginner Program is perfect to start your strength training journey and the Intermediate program will kick your training up a notch. Click the links below to download the free guides:

Download The Seriously Strong Beginner Program


Download The Seriously Strong Intermediate Program


For more in depth information about form, programming, and variations check out our Serious Guide to the Low Bar Squat.

Keith Hansen

Keith was an All-State wrestler in high school and in 2007 hung up his singlet to attend Florida State University to pursue a B.S. in business management. He wasn't sure what industry he wanted to be involved in at the time, but soon realized after graduating in 2011 that fitness was the ever-constant activity in his life. Keith began studying to become a personal trainer and in 2013 earned the National Strength and Conditioning Association's Personal Trainer certification. After a short stint as a big box gym trainer he realized he wanted to bring something different to Tallahassee. Keith competes in Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, and Crossfit.