Inclusive Exercise | Barbell Back Squat

Specialty Athletic Training began in 2007 when Ryan Lockard started working as a 1:1 aide for a boy with autism. Ryan immediately noticed that physical education goals were set much lower for his new autistic student than his peers.

Now with 4 locations, one of which is inside the Stephen’s Place building, Specialty Athletic Training serves people of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Every week, they use their knowledge to serve up quick #wellnesswednesday tips and inclusive exercises for every ability level. For this week’s inclusive exercise, we have the Barbell Back Squat.

Barbell Back Squat Instructions:

1) Loading the Bar:

  • Approach bar from behind and place hands just outside of shoulder width
  • With hands on the bar step underneath the bar and position it on upper back
  • Lift bar off rack and take two steps back

2) Squat Position:

  • Feet should be near shoulder width apart with feet slightly turned out
  • Knees should be soft, ie. not forcefully locked out

3) Downward movement:

  • In a controlled motion, lower body toward the floor making sure heels do not elevate during decent
  • Continue decent until knees have made a 90 degree angle or less
  • Do not let knee protrude paste toes
  • Torso is upright throughout the duration of the movement

4) Upward Movement:

  • Once at the bottom of the lift, forcefully push with an even distribution of force across the foot
  • Heels maintain firm contact with floor
  • Extend knees until starting position is reached

5) Repeat 3-4


  • Heel should always remain grounded
  • Torso should always remain upright
  • Knees shouldn’t protrude past toes
  • If viewing bar path from side angle, bar should drop straight down toward middle of foot



Ryan Lockard, CSCS, CFNS, is the head trainer and founder of Specialty Athletic Training. He is accredited by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, as well as by the International Sports Science Association (ISSA) as a Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist. Ryan has worked with individuals with special needs since 2007 and has over 10,000 hours of 1:1 instruction working with individuals that have various special needs.