Starting Position: Step under the bar with one foot on either side of the barbell. Grasp the bar with palms facing down. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width, and elbows fully bent. The bar should be positioned behind your head high along the top of your shoulders toward the base of your neck. Do not allow the shoulders to shrug upward. A second option for the bar position is low across the back of the shoulders. This position requires a slightly wider grip.
Before un-racking the bar, brace your core and abdominal muscles to stabilize and protect your spine.
Keep your chest lifted, tilt your head slightly up. Lower your body slightly to unrack the bar, then straightening your hips and knees to lift the bar.
Take a step backward and bring your feet to shoulder-width apart, side-by-side. Your toes pointed forward or slightly outward. Shift your weight into your heels.
Downward Phase: Begin this phase by hinging at the hips, shifting them back and down. Your hips and knees bend simultaneously. As you lower your hips the knees bend and will start to shift forward slowly. Try to prevent your knees from traveling too far forward past the toes. Keep the abdominals/core muscles engaged and try to keep your back flat (do not tuck the tail or arch the low back).
Continue to lower yourself until your thighs are parallel or almost parallel to the floor. If your heels begin to lift off the floor or your torso begins to round, return to start position. Be aware of any movement that may occur at your feet, ankles and knees. Work to ensure that the feet do not move, the ankles do not collapse in or out and the knees remain lined up with the second toe.
Imagine pushing the floor away from you as you return to standing position.
Lowered Position: From the front, the knees should continue to remain aligned with the second toe, the bar should remain parallel with the floor, and body weight should be evenly distributed over both feet. From the side, the shinbone and torso should be parallel with one another and the low back should appear flat or showing the beginning of some rounding.
Upward Phase: While maintaining the position of your back, chest and head and with the abdominals engaged, exhale and return to start position by pushing your feet into the floor through your heels. The hips and torso should rise together. Keep the heels flat on the floor and knees aligned with the second toe.
At the end of the set, step forward into a split-stance position, dip down and re-rack the bar.
Technique is very important in this lift. The tendency is to hold the shinbone too vertical which forces you to lean your torso too far forward. Using a mirror for feedback, shift your shinbone forward while keeping your heels on the floor, then bring your torso more upright, but do so from the hips and not through the low back. Squeeze your abdominals to help prevent the excess arching in the back with this correction. If using a squat rack, the safety rungs on the rack should be positioned at mid-thigh level.