The points of performance for the back squat build on the air squat, which is one of CrossFit’s nine foundational movements. Taking the time to learn and perfect the points of performance of the air squat prepares you for squatting with heavier loads, like in the front squat, the overhead squat and the back squat.

Points of Performance: The Back Squat

The movement patterns of the back squat are similar to the air squat. However, in the back squat, you introduce a loaded barbell across the upper back. The back squat is known for building strength in the lower body.


Stand with the feet just outside shoulder-width apart. From a high-racked position, bring the barbell behind the neck and upper body with elbows high. Avoid placing the barbell directly on the spine.

Descend into the Squat

Send the hips back and down with the knees tracking over the toes. Maintain a lumbar curve with the chest lifted and core tight. Keep the weight in the heels.

Return to Start

Drive through the heels and rise back up to the starting position, still keeping the knees tracking over the toes. Come to full hip and knee extension.

A Few More Tips

  • Protect your spine – never place the barbell directly on your vertebrae. Instead, activate the upper back muscles by lifting your elbows and create a cushioned “shelf” where the barbell can rest.
  • Keep your core engaged and chest lifted. Even with the weight of the barbell, maintain a lumbar curve in your spine.
  • When dialing in the points of performance for the back squat, start with an empty barbell. Or, ditch the weight altogether and review good squat technique with air squats.

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