Squats: you know what they are, you know how great they are for strength, muscle gain, fat loss and all round awesomeness but are you training squats to their full potential?
Squats train your quads, hamstrings, back and core whilst giving you a backside to be proud of. I have been adjusting my squat training in recent months and really discovering what works for me in order to generate the most power with the best technique. This allows me to progress at a respectable rate and more importantly train squats frequently.
Here are five tips that have really helped me improve my squat training and will likely work for you too:
1) Before You Get Under The Bar
It’s so important to respect the squat bar, get into the right mindset and commit before lifting. You need to be ready to give the set everything you have and know that it’s yours before you get under that bar. For me the moment I get that bar on my back I know what the set involves. On the odd occasion I’ve not lifted the bar off the rack correctly I simply put it straight back down, reset myself and attack it again. You should always feel powerful from the off.
2) Correct Hand Position
I often see people squatting with a very narrow grip on the hands, this can cause the shoulders to roll forward and put you in a poor position when trying to shift some serious weight. Take the hands a bit wider than shoulder width as this will allow you to retract the shoulders and bring the elbows under the bar nicely allowing you to engage the lats and be in a good position to perform a nice solid rep.
3) Correct Foot Stance
This step requires some personal experimentation as it’s a case of finding out what works for you. Some people prefer a wider stance whereas others prefer a narrower stance. This is typically related to the range of movement you have in your hips, hamstrings and ankles. Trial variations to see which stance feels most comfortable and makes you most powerful. I prefer a little wider than shoulder width with the toes angled out slightly. I also vary my stances from time to time to mix things up.
4) Invest In Lifting Shoes
Ok so this is personal preference as some lifters feel flat soled footwear is perfectly adequate for squats, however, I have to say since opting for Olympic lifting shoes with an elevated heel my squat has improved drastically. So treat yourself to a pair, they are a great way to place more emphasis on the quads and come in handy when training power cleans too.
5) Squat Frequently
It’s safe to say that whilst I have never completely avoided the squat I have not given it the attention it deserves in the past. Since following a structured program with my squats and increasing the frequency of sessions (2-3 times a week) my squatting strength has increased rapidly and my technique has improved considerably. If you are looking to add some serious muscle to your legs and get those PB’s then you need to be doing at least 2 squatting sessions a week.
It’s so important you get some planning and structure in place for your squatting routine in order to get the very best results, this is not something you can simply guess at or just do whatever you feel on the day. Its important to vary your rep and set ranges but also about how you go about assisting your lifts.
If you would like some help on your personal programme design to take your squats and other big lifts such as your bench press and deadlifts to new levels or you’re simply looking for a new training program to hit your muscle building or fat loss goals feel free to contact me here with any questions or simply for more information about our bespoke training programme design services.