The squat is dead. Performed as seen in most gyms across the globe, this movement has become one of the least functional and disadvantageous movements to athleticism. Power racks have become curl racks…cheat curl racks… clean curl racks… whatever you want to call that movement done within a squat rack. However, it’s hard to blame the curlers. It can be some of the best mirror space in the whole gym. If you can’t see your gains, are you really gaining? This bastardized movement, formerly known as a “Squat”, needs some help to find itself again, so we asked Renegade Founder John Davies for advice.
“If one decides to Squat in the Squat Rack, what are the most common errors they should avoid and how can they better this movement?”
"It is likely the simplest yet accurate comment of the ‘iron game’ and athletic development; ATHLETES SQUAT. Simple, honest and a river that runs deep as the ability to squat properly is a demonstration of efficient movement. Failing to be able to Squat properly and with a variety of techniques is a quick diagnostic to reveals a multitude of concerns and muscular imbalances."
Despite this fact, it is becoming increasingly rare to see Squats performed correctly or a proper approach to general leg development. That said, solutions are ‘simple’ and with a bit of sweat and venom, every goal is within reach.
A Squat is not a knee tremor.
Firstly, a Squat is not a tremor of the knees and the ‘only depth’ is rock bottom (medical issues excluded). Full Squats are not a problem on the knees as often suggested, poor technique is the cause. It is absolute nonsense to blame the movement when the true cause is dreadful technique. Full Squats are the answer.
If you Squat with a spotter, you are using too much weight.
Excluding competitive powerlifters,‘spotters’ should not be used when performing Squats . If an individual suggests the need of a spotter, they lack sufficient confidence and effectively are using too heavy of a weight. If you Squat with a spotter, you are attempting to squat too much weight. For that matter, if a person cannot walk out of the racks and take their squat position, the weight is typically beyond their ability. Use a weight that you can walk out of the racks and set up comfortably without the use of a spotter.
A Squat is not a back lift. Use a weight you can move, not one that moves you.
A squat is not a 'back lift' as most have demonstrated the last few decades. The evolution of this perverted 'back lift' has resulted in 'athletes' with extremely poor posture, lacking balance of upper and lower body, often with overly-thick torsos and distended abdomens and certainly pushing the boundaries of what is termed to be 'athletic'. One of the chief goals of performing Squats is improved athleticism and, naturally, any cost of lowered grace and suppleness is too great. Part of this issue relates primarily to the use of one style of the lift, typically becoming a specialist of Box Squats, a fine movement but not the panacea, and if not careful will lead to significant imbalances. The solution is simple; return to being an athlete by making use of a variety of Squat styles with perfect posture and movement patterning. If you wish to review technique within the Squat, I encourage you to watch TEAM USPlabs’ Matt Vincent who clearly has mastered the craft.
Vary styles of Squats. There are many variations of Squats, from the more common back and front style to those of a bygone era such as Jeffersons and each should be used on a regular basis. This will not only assist general development and lower the chance of adaptation but lead to a more balanced athlete. As a partial list, the following Squat methods should be rotated on a regular basis within every training plan.
Squat more to SQUAT MORE
- High Box Step-Up
- Front Squats
- Jefferson Squats
- Bulgarian Squats
- Overhead Squats
- Hack Squats
- Jump Squats
- Belt Squat
- Box Squats
Vary the starting position and tempo. Most approaches to Squats seem stuck in the status quo of starting from a standing position and maintaining a relatively constant speed. There are a number of variations, including starting at the base of the movement or making use of a fast eccentric motion and rebounding. Incorporate each of these.
- Pause Squats
- Concentric Squats
- Dive Squats (fast eccentric, blindfolded, start on coaches command)
If you can’t bend to it, you can’t use it. The dynamic mobility of the hips and the thoracic spine are of critical importance but rarely addressed sufficiently. Bend. Perform Cossack Squats and tumbling drills daily.
Squat daily. 2015 and, FINALLY, many in the modern 'iron game' are starting to understand the value of performing Squats daily. Complex problems often have simple solutions, and a daily session in the Squat rack will solve many issues. Grace and power are essential (see 'Confessions of a Squataholic, part IV' for a training guide).
Walking Lunges. Each training session, if not each day, should include walking lunges. Each step is one step closer to your goals!
Ultimately, each of these approaches is of critical importance but never, not once, 'easy'. However, 'easy' just as 'cannot' is not in the vocabulary of the determined. Be determined, focus and drive to your goals.”
Prepared by John Davies
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of USPlabs or any employee thereof. Examples used within this article are only examples. USPlabs is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the authors of this article. Content contributors are not employees of USPlabs. Authors may have been remunerated by USPlabs.
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