But before I get to that I'd like to talk a little bit about the backsquat.
I love the backsquat. Some people prefer overhead, or front, personally, I get the fastest results with plain old fashioned backsquat.
And none of that scratch the top don't break parallel that I see preached like this:
The real ass-to-the-grass strength fundamental backsquat with actual weight on a bar like so:
Now as surprising as this may be, the backsquat is actually pretty technique sensitive. A lot of people falter in the beginning because they have bad form and end up squatting a lot less than they actually can.
The simplest way to learn is to watch the movement done properly like in this video. This girl has pretty damn perfect technique and she's breezing through 125kg, that's 275lbs for non-metric people.
If you have never squatted before, I strongly encourage you to get at least a basic idea of the technique before loading up the weight. You will not be able to figure out your 1 rep max if you have no clue what you're doing. Resources to learn more about the movement can be found on Catalyst Athletics with tons of videos of athletes squatting properly.
Watch the videos like the one I put up. Try to make yours look the same... I know everyone with time develops their own little quirks and habits that actually help them lift heavier, but for starters, just try to emulate a standard. Most quirks in the beginning are just bad habits.
Practice with a lighter weight and tape yourself from the same angle to compare. Run the videos side by side... pinpoint the differences.
So how much should I be squatting?
Exrx has a great set of tables to help you figure out your goals available here. They also have standards for many lifts and other movements
How do I increase my squat?
Not because I'm Russian, but because it has worked for me very nicely, I love the Russian Squat Program to build up the backsquat. A link to figure out reps and sets to follow the program can be found here.
Isn't it bad for my knees?
Eggh, this is a myth that just will not die!! I've heard the squat being blamed for everything, low back injuries, bad knees, etc. etc. I will get too upset if you get me ranting on this, instead you can just read this article here to get the gist of the misinformation.
And now that you're well on your way, how about some shrimp to fuel you up!