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Maximal Strength Exercise: Barbell Squats (instructional video included)

If you are concerned with fighting off a bigger, or stronger person successfully, you are going to need to get stronger physically. Occasionally, you might hear some uninformed person tell you that you don't need to workout to defend yourself. Don't believe them, 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 two stories to prove this point:

When I was a kid, I got into a fight with another kid in school who didn't know any martial arts. I was already training for a couple of years, but this kid beat me up like I didn't know anything. I later found out that he was an athlete, and part of their training consisted of weight lifting and running. While I was technically proficient, this kid was bigger, stronger, and faster than I was.

Another example: When I competed in no holds barred competition in the mid 80's to early 90's.

they had no weight classes, or time limits. 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 coaching of a power lifter. He said I needed to lift heavy weights in order to have a chance fighting them. That's when I started adding maximal strength exercises to my training. And you know what? It worked!

A great maximal strength exercise that we will be covering this week is the barbell squat (pictured above is Matt Castanon performing a max strength barbell squat).

How to perform a barbell 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.

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

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

Until next time, Stay Fit!

Lawrence Castanon,

Author, The Short Fight

How to perform a barbell squat

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