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23 July 2016

3 ways to instantly improve your squat


I could talk for a long time on improving your squat but I’ll keep this brief. First let me say that the squat is probably the singularly most important exercise you’ll ever do. Done right it will make you stronger, bigger and healthier.

 

1. Go deep

Don’t: Load the bar up as heavy as you can and squat all of 2 inches, no one’s impressed.

Do: Break parallel, bringing the hips below the knees. Much as this may dent your ego the goal here is not to squat the most weight in the gym but to gain strength in a way that actually improves your entire structural strength. Done correctly squats generate more whole body stability and muscle balance than any other exercise.

If you find it difficult to break parallel, spend more time at the bottom.  Simplify the squat and make it paused at the bottom until this position becomes natural to you.

Good squat depth has been proven again and again to be superior to the partial squat.  It’s better for your knees and is a key indicator for athletic performance.

 

2. Breathe to generate more core stability

Don’t: Breathe throughout the movement or breath out from the bottom up.

Do: Use a breath hold and brace – done properly it will reduce butt wink by engaging your entire core including diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles keeping your hip-spine alignment tight.

Fill your whole lungs up, start your breath in with the diaphragm pushing your stomach out while you breath in, then lift the rib cage to fill your lungs to the top, hold.  As you approach parallel brace by pushing outward not just through your abs but 360 degrees around your waist pushing against your inner abdominal walls and back, maintain the push through the bottom of the squat until you are safely  past your sticking point on the way up.

There are other cues to use at the bottom of a squat but getting your breathing right is probably the most important.

You may get looks as you make noises like a steam train but your squat will improve massively!

 

3. Squat more

Don’t: Just squat once a week or just on legs day.

Do: Squat twice a week or more and with more than one variation. For someone with good form I recommend you check out the hatch squat program, back and front squat twice a week. If you’re suffering from DOMs I guarantee you squatting again after a couple of days will help! I shit you not. So stop making excuses and squat!

Most importantly make sure you are doing a squat you can actually do. If you can’t back squat correctly then use variations to target weakness. Below is a list of squat progressions each harder than the next, it’s by no means exhaustive but if you struggle with one take a step back and master the previous squat.

Hierarchy of squats: 

– Body weight squat

– Goblet squat

– Kettle bell rack squat

– front squat

– Box squat

– Back squat

– Over head squat

 

Conclusion

For all round strength development a high bar medium stance squat is best. Consistency is key to mastering technique; treat each squat the same whether it’s your first of 10 reps or a 1 rep max. If you want to get stronger squat more weight if you want to get bigger squat more volume. If you want to become more structurally sound and prevent injury squat correctly. You can of course do all three.

 

Coach Dom Kinsey

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