As iron enthusiasts, we sure do love to put large amounts of weight on our back, sit down and stand back up again. But an issue with the exercise commonly referred to as the squat, is constant changes to technique that leads to unpredictability.
These are just some quick points that will help with technique and consistency, which will directly lead to a stronger squat.
Powerlifters are renown for over the top pre-lift setups which more closely resembles the Haka than a typical approach to the bar.
So, besides getting pumped up why do they do this.
Routine. If you approach the bar the same way every time, you are controlling all the variable you can.
Know where your hands go, where does the bar sit on your back, how many steps do you take out, how far are your feet apart and what is the angle of your feet. Once you have these, set them in stone (note you can always change these things but don’t do it too often and do it with intention).
This will eventually be a habit and now that you don’t have to think about these things you can focus on what really matters, standing up with a silly amount of weight on your back.
I cannot overstate the importance of the breath in the squat. But, the crucial breath that occurs before unracking the weight is often missed.
Treat this as a mini squat. Get set up and fill your stomach with air before unracking the weight. This will help maintain tightness throughout the start of the lift.
Think, if you start off in a sub-par position, it’s going to be hard to get into your optimal position now you have a PR on your back.
The decent of your squat should not change. As the weight on the bar increases, Your speed out of the hole typically slows down (pretty obvious). But this doesn’t change the decent. “but how fast should I go down”, Go down as fast as you can hold the correct positions. I would suggest starting slow,(let’s say 2 seconds for the decent) and gradually increasing or decreasing the tempo until you find your sweet spot
Also, an issue with heavier weight seems to be dropping quickly than slowing down when approaching the bottom of the squat. This is hard to control and not very helpful. The inverse is typically far more beneficial since you can control the positions and then use the stretch reflex at the bottom of the squat to “bounce” yourself out of the bottom.
In the immortal words of Chad Wesley Smith “treat 135 like your max and your max like 135”. This saying makes more sense using metric units (being approx. 60 kilograms), but it still rings true. Each squat you do, every warm-up rep, every working rep should be approached the same. You will control the weight to your bottom position followed by maximum force production into the bar.
So, in summary, to help develop consistent squat technique try and build a routine;
use your breath(twice),
- control your tempo and
- treat every rep like your max
- Crush the squats before they crush you!
Strength and Conditioning Coach
CrossFit Arete and Next Step Strength