Performing barbell squats will help you to increase the size and strength of your quadriceps muscles. Balancing the barbell when you do squats can be difficult, so start off with a light amount of weight until you're able to easily perform the movement. Make sure to wear a weight belt when you do squats, to protect your lower back.
Before you attempt barbell squats, loosen up your legs and lower back. Make sure the barbell is centered on the squat rack, then add an equal amount of plates to each side. Secure the weights with a clip or collar so they do not fall off of the bar during the exercise. You may want to also either add a pad to the bar or put a rolled-up towel around your neck, so the bar does not pinch your skin when holding it. Fasten your weight belt securely, then approach the bar to begin the exercise.
Performing Barbell Squats
Place your hands on the bar slightly wider than shoulder width. Put your head under the barbell and position the bar on the back of your shoulders. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor slightly wider than you normally stand. Lift the bar off of the squat rack and take a step back. Steady yourself and do not move your feet around during the repetitions or you may lose your balance.
To start the first repetition, bend your knees and slowly lower yourself down until your upper legs are nearly parallel with the floor. Stand back up to complete the repetition. You may need to add or remove some plates depending on how easily you manage the weight during the first set. Try to settle on a weight that you can handle for 8 to 10 repetitions.
Increasing the Intensity
If you want to increase the intensity of barbell squats, add more weight to the bar. Try to still do the same number of repetitions that you normally do during your squat workout. You may want to use a spotter for safety purposes if you find the weight is hard to handle.
If you would rather leave the weight the same, try increasing the number of repetitions to add intensity to your workout. The last few repetitions may be difficult to complete, so you will have to maintain your concentration to finish the set. If you're struggling at the end of the set, don't bend down as far during the last few repetitions, which will make the exercise a bit easier.
You can also add intensity to barbell squats by performing the exercise at a slower pace. While slowing down the movement may not seem like it will add to the intensity, once you try this method of squatting you will find out how difficult it actually is, especially during the last few reps. If you're running out of energy toward the end of the set, just stop and put the bar back on the rack.