T Nation

Muscles Used in Full Back Squats


I am doing full back squats to improve my leg strength.

I have noticed that the only muscles that get worked are the hip flexors.
I have added a picture to better explain: http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/405/hipflexor.jpg/
When I squat, I only feel a contraction in the area around the red circles.

A few words on my technique: I go all the way down(it feel very comfortable for me) and my knees and toes are pointed out at a 45 degree angle.

Shouldn't I feel my quads working? Is my stance to wide or should I use Bulgarian Split Squats or Step Ups for quad strength?

Happy Holidays!


I don't feel my quads working when back squatting, but it doesn't mean they dont work. maybe less when your knees are pointed out 45 degrees. I think front squats are great for feeling the quads working.


You are overthinking it.

Try this. Squat your way up to 500 pounds ATG. Dont think about any mind muscle bullshit, just literally obtain that number. I can tell you with 100% confidence your entire legs will be huge


Hey man, Good on you for reaching out and seeking some help.

What you're feeling is some good old fashioned tight hips. That's what you're feeling when you squat, it's very common and easily fixable.

try this warm up and you should be laughing.

Also, you thought maybe bring your stance in, where is it at now?


Yeah, it's all tight hips. Your hip flexors don't work in the squat. Your hip flexors do just that, flex the hip. Your hip flexes on the way down but that is an eccentric contraction by your hip extensors. One of your quads is also a hip flexor (rectus femoris) but you should feel that in your general "Quad" region. Stretch those hips out real good beforehand and you'll feel it differently. Lunge stretches, in general, stretch the hip flexors. Also, Larry10, I sent you a PM if you haven't seen it yet about a programming decision


Thanks. The thing is, when I do squats, I'm not just thinking to get the movement done, I think about contracting the muscle that should do the movement. I read an article about Schwarzenegger who said something along the lines: The weight is just a means to an end; it's about the muscles contracting.

I have heard that I should break at the hips to rise from the bottom. What exactly does that mean? Can you explain in some detail how I should rise form the bottom? What should my leg be doing?

And what do you mean by ,,bring my stance in"? My feet are shoulder width apart, I forgot to mention. Are my toes too far out at 45 degress?

Happy Holidays!


I haven't been able to receive any pms, I'll contact a mod about it, sorry about that


Keep your feet shoulder width, I was asking as if your feet are too wide it can hurt the hips.

Don't worry about feeling the muscles, just focus on coming up strong, lead with your head and chest, tight low back and stand up.

YOur muscles will take care of themselves, Arnold was talking about how to bicep curl, not squat.


Go front squat 405 for 8, come back, and tell us your quads aren't working.


i feel the same thing, larry said it, tight hips.


What this means is that you should be using hip drive to initiate the upward phase of the squat.

Rippetoe explains here: