If you’ve been paying attention, I think squats are kind of a big deal…
As far as I am concerned the squat is the king of lifts! It requires mobility, stability, strength, and courage to master the squat, and if you don’t think that squats are that big of a deal… well then you know where the door is.
We have all gone through the struggles of trying to build a respectable squat. So to that end here are a few reasons why your squat may, or may not suck.
- Not squatting to depth –
The fact is that everyone in the history of squatting has asked the question “was my squat deep enough?”
You swiftly learn that if you have to ask the question, then you already know the answer.
Not squatting to full range, while it allows you to move more weight, is actually the worst thing you can do for not just the development of your squat, but also your overall leg development.
The only way to recruit the most amount of muscle possible is to go through as full of a range of motion as possible. That means no half reps, no quarter reps, no doubt what so ever. Go arse to grass or go home.
To develop greater depth and comfort either the back squat or front squat, use pause squats of anything from 1-5 seconds at the bottom of the squat.
The pause will also help you develop power out of the bottom of the squat, i.e. the weakest part of the movement.
2. Not squatting frequently enough –
Following the typical ‘Bro Split’ of doing legs once a week is pissing away time that could be spent squatting. Some how, this myth has emerged whereby people think that training a muscle once per week is enough to incite growth. Well, maybe for someone in their first year of lifting, but for anyone who has invested some serious iron time once a week is simply not enough.
The muscle building cycle actually only lasts a day or three, depending on the size of the muscle. So that means you can train your squat multiple times per week without any negative impact on your muscular development, or risk of overtraining (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7b5hOWfwdc).
Try to squat two to three times a week as part of a five session split at varying rep ranges, with your heaviest session at the beginning of the week to get some mega growth potential in your legs and your squat numbers.
Session 1: 4 x 6-8
Session 3: 4 x 8-10
Session 5: 4 x 10-12
3. Not thinking long term –
This essentially ties in with the above point, but its worth coming at from another angle. Everything has a point of diminishing returns, and squatting is no exception. The more you repeat an exercise, the better you get at it. This is why most newbies see some incredible gains in the first few months to a year of training. But as the months and years tick on it gets harder to progress because your body quite simply needs more stimulus to force an adaption. This is why a proper phasic program is needed to see progress in any aspect of the gym, but particularly in squatting.
A really simple rep range scheme to use is as follows
4. Improper exercise selection –
If you want to build a big squat, then stop worrying about leg extensions and calf raises. These exercises have their place, but the truth is that you need to seriously think about what is letting you down in the squat and build those weaknesses. Doing leg extensions for the sake of doing leg extensions is not going to help you squat more weight, so don’t waste your time on exercises that aren’t going to build your squat
Here is a cheat sheet for some basic issues –
- Rounding over: Weakness in the upper back and abs. Do a lot, and I do mean a lot of rows and ab work in addition to sub-maximal squats / pause squats.
- Getting stuck in at the bottom: Weakness in the glutes and hamstrings. Dedicate time to glue bridges, hip extensions, and romanian deadlifts to build that booty!
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