top of page

Exercise of the Week: Barbell Back Squat

If you are concerned with fighting off a bigger, or stronger assailant successfully, you are going to need to get stronger physically. Don't believe the misinformed person who tells you that you don't need to to be strong in order to defend yourself. This can't be farther from the truth. All the techniques in the world can't help you if your are not strong enough to perform it on a bigger, stronger assailant.

Let me share my personal experience to illustrate this point:

When I competed in no holds barred competition (mid 80's to early 90's), there were no weight classes. Even though I only weighed around 135 pounds at the time, it was not unusual for me to face guys who were 250 pounds or more. After losing matches to these big guys, I sought the help of a power lifting coach. He said I needed to lift heavy weights in order to have a chance fighting the heavier, stronger guys. That's when I started adding maximal strength exercises to my training, and it worked! The stronger I got, the more effective my fighting techniques became against the bigger guys.

Exercise of the week:

This weeks exercise is great for increasing your maximal strength. It is the barbell back squat (pictured below is Matt Castanon performing the exercise). The beauty of this exercise is that it not only increases leg strength, but it's also works all the major muscle groups. Additionally, it forces your body to make testosterone and growth hormone: These are necessary for increasing strength and lean muscle growth.

How to perform a barbell back squat:
  1. Stand with a barbell resting on your shoulders and traps with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Maintain the natural arch in your lower back and keep your head directed forward.

  2. Bend at the knees and hips, letting your glutes track backward to lower yourself.

  3. When your thighs are parallel to the floor, reverse direction, driving up forcefully through your heels to a standing position.

  4. Repeat for the required amount of repetitions.

Sets, Reps, and Rest:
  • Beginners: Perform 1-3 sets of 12-15 reps at 50%-70% of your One Rep Max. Rest 90 seconds between sets. Gradually build up to 3 sets of 15 reps, at 70% of your 1RM before moving up to intermediate.

  • Intermediate: Perform 3-5 sets of 6-12 reps at 75%-85% of your One Rep Max. Rest 60-120 seconds between sets. Gradually build up to 5 sets of 12reps, at 85% of your 1RM before moving up to advanced.

  • Advanced: Perform 4-6 sets of 1-5 reps at 85%-100% of your One Rep Max. Rest 3-5 minutes between sets. Gradually build up to 6 sets of 5 reps at 100% of your 1RM before increasing the weight.

Below is a short demo of how to perform the barbell squat. Let me know if you have any questions.

For more exercises to improve your performance for fitness and self-defense, get my book, The Short Fight, on Amazon at

You will get free access to all my exercise and self-defense instructional videos by signing up at

Can you help me? Would you leave a review for my book on Amazon? This will help me to continue providing free training for you.

Thanks so much!

Want to get in the best shape of your life? Check out our fitness training programs here

Until next time, Stay Fit!

Sincerely, Lawrence Castanon,

Author, The Short Fight

Barbell Back Squat (lateral view)

114 views0 comments


bottom of page