The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of external load on vertical ground reaction force, and linear and angular kinematics, during squats. Eight males aged 22.1 +/- 0.8 years performed maximal concentric squats using loads ranging from 7 to 70% of one-repetition maximum on a force plate while linear barbell velocity and the angular kinematics of the hip, knee and ankle were recorded. Maximum, average and angle-specific values were recorded. The ground reaction force ranged from 1.67 +/- 0.20 to 3.21 +/- 0.29 times body weight and increased significantly as external load increased (P < 0.05). Bar linear velocity ranged from 0.54 +/- 0.11 to 2.50 +/- 0.50 m x s(-1) and decreased significantly with increasing external load (P < 0.05). Hip, knee and ankle angles at maximum ground reaction force were affected by external load (P < 0.05). The force-barbell velocity curves were fitted using linear models with coefficients (r2) ranging from 0.59 to 0.96. The results suggest that maximal force exertion during squat exercises is not achieved at the same position of the lower body as external load is increased. In contrast, joint velocity coordination does not change as load is increased. The force-velocity relationship was linear and independent from the set of data used for its determination.