Starting position: Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width, with your toes pointed forward or slightly outward. Position your feet so that the balls of your feet are lined up under the bar.
Squat down and firmly grasp the bar just outside of the knees using a closed, alternating grip. Thumbs should be wrapped around the bar with one hand facing up, the other hand facing down. Position the bar 1" in front of your shins.
Keep your spine in neutral position. Your shoulders should pull down your back and away from you ears. Keep your chest lifted and your head in line with your spine or chin slightly lifted. Your heels are on the floor and your shoulders are over or slightly in front of the bar. Your gaze should be facing straight ahead or slightly upward.
Upward Phase: Before lifting, brace your core and abdominal muscles to stabilize and protect your spine. Straighten your knees and hips at the same time, bringing the bar off the floor and coming to a full standing position. You are pushing your feet down into the floor as you return to a full standing position. The barbell will rest against the front of your thighs with your arms straight, and shoulders pulled down and back. Your goal is to keep the bar close to your body as it moves upward.
Downward Phase: With control, 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). Lower the hips and shoulders together. Do not allow the spine to round. Keep the back long and shoulder blades pulling down. Imagine holding a pencil between your shoulder blades throughout both phases of the movement.
Grip Variations: With lighter weights, you may opt to grip the bar with both palms down or both palms up. Be sure the fingers are wrapped around the bar with either grip.
Technique is very important in this lift. Two common mistakes are (a) over arching the low back during the lifting and lowering phases and (b) not raising and lowering the hips and shoulders together.