We bet that when you think of advancing your squat, you think only about squatting heavier, not working on your form. But the truth is that the only way to better and heavier squats is by improving your movement. This will reduce your risk of injuries, which can be very common when this particular exercise is poorly executed, and lead to improvements in how much weight you are able to lift safely.
You might not be very thrilled about the prospect of putting on extra effort to improve your squat, but trust us, it will pay off handsomely. And we’ve created a list of 7 quick steps to get you started right away!
Squeeze and tighten up before you get under the bar
Before you take up the desired weight, squeeze your glutes and lats and tighten up your core. You need to create maximum tension before you lift the bar off the rack, which is the first crucial step of performing a solid squat.
Grip the bar like your life depends on it
Your grip matters more than you think. In fact, it can make or break a weighted movement. Grip the bar as hard as you can to add strength and gain optimal control over it.
Shrugging is one of the big no-no’s of squatting, although most people seem unable to resist the temptation. Looking for a secure place to place the bar is understandable, but instead of shrugging, try creating a ‘shelf’ for the bar on your back by tightening it up, pressing your shoulders down and exploding your lats up.
Minimize your steps back
Taking more than two steps back will cause you to lose all that muscle tension you’ve created so far, leaving you less than optimally prepared for the squat and risking the efficiency of the movement. Taking a step or two back has the simple purpose of clearing the rack, and that’s all.
Control the descent
Dropping down to the bottom of the squat too quickly is perhaps one of the major reasons why some people can’t progress to heavier squats – they lose most the tension required to ascend out of the squat. To maintain tension and control, slow down your descent. Remember – you need all of that tension to get through the second part of the motion.
Butt and legs out
As you go start to descend, your butt should be the first thing to go out. Then, as you progress to the bottom, your legs should spread outward. This is incredibly important for preventing knee injury caused by the knees going past the toes.
Once you’ve reached the bottom, reverse your direction immediately and forcefully drive upwards by driving your shoulders up through the bar, elbows aligned under it. Also, try to pull your back up as hard as possible during the ascent.
It might seem hard to keep all these things in mind, but once you try to incorporate them into your squatting routine, you’ll notice immediate benefits. Be persistent and don’t give up – only a few other things are more enviable than a picture-perfect squat with an admirable amount of weight.