The question, how to improve your squat has come up in the past, and this is something that I used to have problems with. Squatting is a strenuous exercise that requires the weight trainer to have a barbell across his or her shoulders and squat into a low sitting position.
Squats are an excellent exercise for developing muscular size and strength in the quads and are used by many weight trainers including bodybuilders, powerlifters and sports athletes.
Squats have always been referred to as the king of all leg builders, but if they are not Incorporated right, they can lead to injury through following bad form and squatting with too much weight without thoroughly warming up and not following good safety rules.
Today we are going to take a look at some training techniques that you can incorporate to better improve your squats form and strength. Squatting is not only a great way to build your quadriceps up, but they also help with speeding up your metabolism and increasing your heart rate.
Next we will be taking a look at pro bodybuilder Tom Platz, the training principles he followed and just how hard the man trained, and in the video below, you will see just how intense his training was, the heart he displays and how his unique training still lives on today.
Squat like a pro
Known as the king of quad exercises, the squat is an exercise that pro bodybuilder Tom platz had used and had grown a pair of phenomenal legs from doing so. He was always big on using real good form when performing the squat and would always sit exceptionally low when squatting down.
Tom platz not only looked exceptionally big in photos that you would see in magazines, but back in 1986 when I met him in person, he was just as exceptionally muscular looking as you would expect to see of him in the magazines.
The biggest muscular trate that Tom Platz was known for was his leg development. Tom had a set of quads on him that were exceptionally muscular and the best reason for being is that he performed the squat with impeccable form and he squatted exceptionally low at the bottom of the squat position.
The depth of a person’s squat will determine how effective the squat will be. A big mistake that many trainers do is they don’t squat enough. When they do squat they don’t squat deep enough.
The problem when you are not squatting deep enough is you are only doing partial reps, partial reps will only deliver partial results. If you want full results in your thigh training routine, you should do full repetitions, this means squatting as low as you possibly can.
Going deep in your squats will generate maximal results while using less weight. A big key behind doing squats properly and going deep enough is to drop some weight that you have been using and don’t go for an ego show in the gym.
It’s not about showing off in the gym for everyone you might think is watching you with how much weight you can hoist while performing halfway reps and sloppy form, squatting is about finding an appropriate weight that feels right for you while you can train with excellent technique and excellent form.
The key behind squatting deep is found within finding your proper squat stance. Tom platt’s was known for using a narrow stance while generally other bodybuilders would go with the more popular shoulder width stance.
Another key point is avoided leaning forward when squatting. A point that Tom Platz followed was to never allow the barbell to travel further forward than what his knees were.
Work on your squatting technique with a light weight, squat deep and keep consistent with the good form that you learn. Once you have learned good form, squatting deep and keeping good posture, then you can start to increase the weight and squat heavy.
One of the advantages with squatting, is this exercise works more than just your quads. The squat is a compound exercise which means it works more muscles than the direct muscle that you are aiming for.
Meaning that when you do squats in your training routine, they are generally meant to develop the quadriceps muscle, but the squat involves much more than the quads. Squats involve back muscles, the core and many other areas of the body.
Aside from the squats working your entire body, more specifically, we will take a look at precisely what muscle groups are involved when doing the squat.
At the bottom range of the squat, the quads will be working the most since your knees will be at the greatest distance. Your core muscles are working to a great extent, especially your Erectors. This muscle will also be activated to prevent falling forward or flexing at the spine.
As you drive yourself to a standing position, your hips will travel up and forward which will require your gluteamus Maximus and abductor magnus, ‘your inner thigh’, to extend the hips.
When it comes to compound exercises, the squat is an exercise that affects compounding to the highest degree since it requires simultaneous action within all your primary joints, including your hips, knees and ankles.
Overall, the squat is one of the most compounded lower body exercises since it requires simultaneous action at all the primary joints, including hips, knees, and ankles.
Follow good form
It is always essential to follow good form. If you are not following correct form, you are leaving yourself open to injuries and strains. We will be taking a look at some good principles to follow in order to have good squatting form.
When you are squatting, you should have your feet approximately two feet apart and toes angled approximately 30° apart. Stand straight with good posture with the barbell comfortably resting across the shoulders.
Keep your lower back arched in with your shoulders and elbows back. When you squat down, drive your knees forward while keeping them aligned straight forward. Always make sure that you keep looking forward, not to your left or right, or up or at the floor.
It is best to maintain good form when performing the squat by keeping your eyes straight forward and not being distracted by anything else that is going on, or looking in some direction that could throw you off balance.
This should be one of the first rules to follow by when you begin working out, or when you first join a gym is to be safe. Safety first should be a good practice that you get yourself into no matter what exercise or muscle you are training.
Especially if you are doing an exercise like the squats where you have a good amount of weight above your mid access point and your balance can be thrown off easily resulting in possible serious injury.
When performing the squat, always make sure that you are wearing the appropriate safety gear such as a sturdy weight belt to give your midsection and lower back support, and other necessary things if you are performing heavy squats such as knee wraps and chalking the hands.
A good sturdy pair of shoes should be worn when doing the squat, because if you are performing the squats barefoot or with a shoe that is not appropriate or sturdy enough to accommodate an exercise as strenuous as the squat, it can result in foot or ankle injury.
Last but not least when it comes to being safe and practicing safety, is to always make sure that you thoroughly warm your muscles and joints up completely with either squatting with no weight or a very lightweight before you start getting involved with squatting a heavier weight.
In order to warm up thoroughly, I recommend that you do at least two warm up sets, preferably three warm up sets starting out with just your body weight and gradually working your way up with a lightweight.
A basic principle that I have always followed, especially when doing squats is the pyramid system. The pyramid system is after you have done your warm-up sets, start out with a weight where you can do 15 repetitions and gradually increase the weight until you get to your peak weight, this should be no less than six repetitions.
Once you have reached your peak weight, then over the process of completing your remainder sets, continue to gradually reduce the weight back down so that your repetitions can gradually start escalating higher.
- 5-6 sets performed
- 6-15 repetitions per set.
Improving your posture while squatting
This can be a common problem when it comes to squatting, is proper form and posture. Many people including myself have had a problem with performing the squat while keeping good posture.
When doing squats, you will want to make sure that you are keeping your upper torso as vertical as possible so that you are not putting too much stress on your lower back and spine, as this can result in serious injury, especially if you are using a weight that is heavy for you.
In order to keep your posture in good form while doing the squat, you will need to follow the rules that I have above with following good form. Always make sure that you keep looking straight forward, your toes are angled slightly outward, approximately 30° apart.
Keep your lower back arched in with your elbows and shoulders back, and don’t try to squat with more weight than what you know you are capable of.
When you follow these principles, if you still have a difficult time keeping your upper torso as vertical as possible, one recommendation that I have is to place a wooden block such as a two by four under your heels, practicing this will help to keep your posture aligned and help you to keep your upper torso in a more vertical up and down position.
Squat with your goal in mind
Weight training is a progressive sport, because if you stick with it and are persistent, you should be able to continually make progress moving forward. The whole purpose behind resistance training is to train with a weight that you feel comfortable enough with but is heavy enough to make you work hard within the rep range that you are aiming for.
If your goal for squatting is to build muscle size in your quads, the rep range that is ideal for you to aim for is anywhere between 6 to 15 repetitions. Anymore than 15 repetitions and it is becoming too much like a cardio workout where you are not putting enough stress on the quads to build muscle but you are spending more time burning calories than anything else.
The rep range that you follow is all up to you and what your goals are, so follow the rep range that will give you the most benefit for what your ideal goal is and stay within that rep range for your best results.
Not everyone that does squats is into building large thighs, many people enjoy using squats because they are a great exercise that works the whole body and helps to speed your metabolism, so when you perform this exercise, it is a great way to get your heart rate going and burn calories.
Squats can be a great exercise for people that are into staying fit and spend the majority of their time doing cardio. For the people that follow this type of training regimen, it can still be a good idea to apply some resistance training to your cardio.
There is no other better exercise than the squat to include with a cardio training program because the squat is an excellent exercise for keeping your metabolism rate up and burning any of those excess wanted pounds away.
Squats are also in excellent exercise for developing strength in the quads and are used heavily by power lifters. Keeping your strength increments going on a regular basis is best practiced by squatting with a weight that is heavy enough to only perform within a rep range of 1 to 6 reps.
Especially if you are into training with this goal in mind, this will obviously require heavy weights, so you will definitely need to keep safety and good form in mind so that you can avoid minor injuries as well as serious injuries which are a real good way to keep you out of the gym and seeing any results.
As with any exercise or muscle that you are training, you will always need to keep safety and good form in mind, this should be the first rule of thumb that you should follow as soon as you join a gym and start lifting.
I hope that the information that I have given is helpful for you and can benefit you in seeing the progress that you strive for and making good gains in whatever your goals are.
Squatting does take a lot of effort and can take a lot of energy out of you, so many weightlifters find it practical to not only eat a healthy diet that can sustain the energy they need to get through their punishing workouts, but also to supplement their diets for the needed nutrition that will help them to not only get through their workouts, but to see the results they are looking for speedy as possible.
In my next post I will be covering how to improve your squatting strength. If you want to increase your power for competitive squatting, football or just to build your leg strength up in general, watch for my next post and I will give you the lowdown on how to do that in record time.
For good supplementation products, whey protein products are excellent for helping with beefing up your quality protein in your diet. Also, many weight trainers find it necessary to have a supplementation product that can help them to recover faster after workouts.
Pre-workout supplements are great for giving you the energy that you need to get through your workouts. It is basically up to you and where you feel that you need to align your diet better with your training.
To get a better idea on supplementation products, you can check out a wide variety of products on my website, or you can simply click on this link to check out one of my product reviews on pre-energy workouts.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to leave a comment in the box below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.