Squat Technique

Biomedical Illustration, Journal / Textbook

Squat technique

A visual guide to performing safe front and back bar squats.


Michael Corrin & Dr. Tyson Beach.






Half-page spread in a biomechanics/exercise science trade journal.



Visualize key aspects of safe squat technique.

Limitations: Must use cel-shading and fit in a half page.


Target audience

Personal trainers and exercise professionals.



1. Layout & composition

After reviewing the literature, consulting clients and determining key communication goals, I made my first rough layouts.

Early layout proposals


2. Storytelling with image and text

One challenge was organizing the images, such that they made sense sequentially and that the caption could easily reference each image, while also staying within the limitations of the publication format.

We went through several iterations of visual solutions for the inset about proper tracking of the patella over the second toe (panel C).


3. Comprehensive sketches

After trouble-shooting issues with viewpoint and layout, I was ready to digitally render the final illustration. Here are the sketches that I used used as templates for the final vector art.

Comprehensive sketches of individual inset illustrations


References (annotated)

Agur, A. M. R., and Dalley, A. F. 2017. Grant’s atlas of anatomy, 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer.

  • This source was used to reference anatomy of the spine, pelvis, and lower limb bones, and the surface anatomy, general proportions, and musculature of the back and upper limbs.

Barefoot Squat Position, University of Toronto Mississauga HSC. Personal photographs by author. January 6, 2018.

  • These photographs were used as reference for the lateral views including surface anatomy of the foot.

Barbell Squats at Gym, University of Toronto Mississauga Athletics. Personal photographs by author. November 29, 2017.

  • These photographs were used to reference surface anatomy in anterior and lateral views of squat variations.

Bird, S. P., and Casey, S. “Exploring the front squat.” Strength and Conditioning Journal 34, no. 2 (2012): 27-33. doi:10.1519/ssc.0b013e3182441b7d.

  • This source was used to reference proper technique and appearance of the front squat, and included common mistakes that could lead to injury or decrease effectiveness of the exercise, such as neck extension (i.e., a neutral spine is important).

Comfort, P, and Kasim, P. “Optimizing squat technique”. Strength and Conditioning Journal 29, no. 6 (December 2007): 10-13. doi:10.1519/00126548-200712000-00001.

  • This source outlined general recommendations for safe and effective squat technique (e.g., stance width, foot positioning, movement of knees). In addition to informing the figure caption, these guidelines were used to ensure that the positions of the figures that I drew were relatively neutral and non-misleading.

Glassbrook, D. J., Helms, E. R., Brown, S. R., and Storey, A. G. “A review of the biomechanical differences between the high-bar and low-bar back-squat”. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 31, no. 9 (2017): 2618-634. doi:10.1519/jsc.0000000000002007.

  • This source described the specific characteristics of and differences between high-bar and low-bar back-squats; bar placement and flexion angles were most relevant.

Haley, Andy. Front Squat Clean Grip - STACK. Front Squat 101: How to Master The Move in 5 Minutes. In STACK. February 10, 2017. Accessed November 6, 2017. http://www.stack.com/a/front-squat .

  • This photograph shows the anterior surface anatomy of a clean (standard) grip front squat starting position.

Healthwise, Inc. c_h9991642_001. Patellar Tracking Disorder. MyHealth.Alberta.ca Government of Alberta Personal Health Portal. Accessed December 02, 2017. https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=tn7304 .

  • An illustration from this webpage depicted the anterolateral view of bony anatomy involved in knee flexion.

Imbo, William. Lowbarhighbarquat. High Bar vs. Low Bar Squats - What's the Difference? In Boxlife Magazine. May 27, 2014. Accessed November 6, 2017. http://boxlifemagazine.com/high-bar-vs-low-bar-back-squats-whats-the-difference/ .

  • This photograph shows the posterior surface anatomy of starting positions for the bar for the high- and low-bar back-squats.

Knees Anterior View, Montreal. Personal photographs by author. January 6, 2018.

  • These photographs were used as reference for the anterior knee tracking illustrations.

LayneNorton. How-to-squat-layne-nortons-squat-tutorial_16. How To Squat: Layne Norton's Squat Tutorial. Bodybuilding.com. November 02, 2017. Accessed December 05, 2017. https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/how-to-squat-tutorial.html .

  • This photograph shows the posterior and upper limb surface anatomy involved when gripping the bar for a low-bar back-squats.

Mehdi. Squat-bar-position. How to Squat with Proper Form: The Definitive Guide. StrongLifts. July 30, 2017. Accessed December 05, 2017. https://stronglifts.com/squat/ .

  • This photograph shows the posterior surface anatomy of starting positions for the high- and low-bar back-squats.

Mannion, Jake. "High-Bar vs Low-Bar: Yes, It Matters!" CrossFit Kinnick - Ontario & Upland. December 17, 2012. Accessed November 06, 2017. http://www.crossfitkinnick.com/2012/12/14/high-bar-vs-low-bar-yes-it-matters/ .

  • An illustration from this webpage shows differences in hip and joint angles between the three squat variations, but at different squat depths.

Walsh, Kevin. High_bar_squat. How To Squat Correctly: High Bar, Low Bar, Front Squat. Visionary Athletes. January 27, 2014. Accessed November 06, 2017. http://visionaryathletes.com/training/how-to-squat-correctly/ .

  • This illustration showed a common way of depicting differences between the three squat variations, which contributed to initial stages of layout design for the lateral view.