top 10 ways to double the pounds lifting in your squat (you can thank me later)…
1) Stand completely upright with your chest out like a drill sergeant just yelled at you!
2) Take a huge breath of air so big you could go under water for 5 mins with it…and hold it! Don’t breath it out until you are done your full rep! No breathing out on the way up. Picture a balloon that is inflated. With a fully inflated balloon you could rest a small rock on top of it and it will remain upright. With a half inflated balloon, if you put a rock on it the balloon will fold. If you don’t hold your breath you will pitch forward in your squat and put pressure on your lower back.
3)Squeeze the bar so tight, and try to wrap it around your body. This will give you stability in your squat and keep your entire body tight. It is this tightness that will keep you from getting injured. It is when you are loose that the wrong muscles shift, and possibly vertebrae in your back!
4) Sit back, do not sit straight down, sit back as if there is an invisible wall you are trying to touch with your butt. Failing to sit back means you fail to turn on your glutes and hamstring. This is your seat of power, so to speak. With that back of your legs and glutes you are good for 500 pound squats, but with the front you are only good for 300 pound squats. This is why most people never get past a certain level.
5)Make sure your butt is flared out, and tail bone pointing out. Don’t tuck your butt in when you squat! Pushing your butt out turns on your glutes. They are the biggest muscles you got! Sitting back and pushing your butt out is how you will turn on the seat of power.
6) Keep your elbows pointed down to the ground! Do not let them turn into wings. Every one does this! You will pitch forward if you let them raise up. Keep them pointed straight down! If you pitch forward you will put the weight off your legs and on your lower back. You will also not remain tight up top. This increases the likelihood of injury to your lower back. It also decreases your power.
7)Keep your eyes looking above you! Not straight ahead looking at yourself, and certainly not down. Look up! It keeps the motion moving in the right direction. You don’t need to look to the sky, but up on a 45 degree angle is ideal.
8) Don’t let your knees drift over your toes. If you do, you are not sitting back far enough and you are not using the right muscles. Sit back, and keep your knees never going past your toes.
9) Flare your knees out at the bottom of the squat, NEVER let them flare in are bend in! They always flare out! your stomach goes between your knees. Do not ever let your knees bend towards each other. That is a massive loss of power and a good way to hurt yourself. In no exercises do you ever let your knees bend towards each other when pushing or pulling for power. It is how you collapse the structure. You want the structure strong, than you flare the knees out!
10) Break parallel! If I had a dollar every time I had some one complain they don’t get much out of their squats, only to seem them doing quarter squats at the gym. Most people think they are “ass to the grass” only to find out they are not even parallel, let alone breaking parallel. You need the top of your legs to be parallel to the ground, and then you dip a little more so the crook of your hip breaks parallel. That is a FULL squat. Any thing less and you are robbing yourself of the full benefits of squatting.
Bonus Tip!!! A little additional info for you…If balance is an issue, keep wrapping that bar around your body with your lunges full of air and elbows pointing down with your eyes looking up. All that work up top is what keeps you stable to sit back. Most people think squatting is all legs, they are dead wrong!
***the author, 6 Pack Lapadat, is a National Powerlifting Champion and World Record holder in the Squat***