The vast majority of strength coaches who work with athletes involved in ground-based, whole body sports (activities that utilize most of the muscles of the upper and lower body, along with the core, or torso) consider the squat to be the key lift in any training program.
As with the press lift, there is no reason to include any adjective to further describe the squat. Powerlifters compete in the squat, not the back squat. True, other forms of squatting, such as front squats, split squats, partial squats, etc., do include an additional descriptor.
Weightlifters typically devote 20 – 25% of their training volume to squats, depending on whether they are in a preparation or a competition phase of training. The ratio of snatch and clean to squat is a valuable tool for determining if an athlete’s lifts are in balance, or whether more time should be devoted to either strength or technique.
Read more on the importance of this ratio (Ratio details are also in the blog referenced below.)
Many years ago, there was widespread acceptance of the false conclusion that squats “are bad for your knees.” This bogus statement remains popular today. A great quantity of solid research has countered this old wives’ tale, and most well informed strength professionals realize that the squat, properly performed, strengthens all the tissues surrounding the knees, along with the entire lower body. In fact, many consider the squat to be a total body exercise.
Performing squats is tough. Many people would rather focus on the showy muscles of the upper torso. The following popular advice to squat-averse individuals has been around for a while:
Down the road, in a gym far away
A young man was heard to say,
No matter what I do, my legs won't grow!
He tried leg extensions, leg curls, leg presses, too.
Trying to cheat, these sissy workouts he'd do!
From the corner of the gym where the big guys train,
Through a cloud of chalk and the midst of pain,
Where the big iron rides high, and threatens lives,
Where the noise is made with big forty-fives,
A deep voice bellowed as he wrapped his knees,
A very big man with legs like trees,
Laughing as he snatched another plate from the stack,
Chalked his hands and monstrous back,
Said, "Boy, stop lying and don't say you've forgotten!
Trouble with you is you ain't been SQUATTIN!"
Check this video to learn to properly perform the squat:
Click here for an in-depth blog that explains the history of the squat and its role in weightlifting and strength training today.