Depending on who you talk to, squats are loved or hated by most fitness experts and novices. When they are done incorrectly, they cause serious damage and pain. But done correctly, they add great strength overall. Proper technique is key to not hurting yourself and reaping the benefits.
Beginners should never add weights when starting out. Working on proper form, while moving slowly will increase strength quickly, while avoiding injury.
Stand with a comfortable stance. Most will prefer their feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart with toes turned out at a slight angle.
Lower yourself by reaching back with your butt while maintaining a strong lower back. Keep your knees aligned with your toes and your toes on the ground.
Chest up, upper back tight, eyes looking forward and slightly down, head in a neutral position. Maintain a nice cohesive line along your spine.
Go just below parallel, so that your butt drops below your knees.
Come back up by pushing through the heel.
Once you have mastered this basic version and are ready to move to the next level, then a squat bar or free weights can be added to increase work out and muscle strength.
Take it slow and always remember proper form comes first.