Daily Archives: November 11, 2015

Squats, with a Sprinkling of Technique

Today I thought I would share some information on 5 tips I’ve learnt over the years and used to improve my squat and help in achieving continued progression.

They are as follows:
– Upper Back Tightness
– Bracing
– Treat Light Weights Heavy & Heavy Weights Light
– Screw Your Feet Into The Floor
– Becoming One
Upper Back Tightness:
I often see people who lack the required tension in their upper back to push their squat numbers up, achieving more upper back tightness is actually quite easy. When you set up to the bar keep these 3 points in mind:
1 – Move your hands as close as you comfortably can.
2 – Squeeze the bar as tightly as you can and try to bend it over your back by drawing your elbows down to activate your lats.
3 – Linked in with 2, after drawing your elbows down, squeezing the bar and trying to bend it over your back try to push your elbows forwards (they might not move but it will help create more tightness).
Bracing:
You often hear the cue “Breathe in to your belly.” which isn’t a bad cue but it leaves out some important information and some people end up breathing in and just pushing their belly out. Now the technical term for this style of breathing is Diaphragmatic Breathing, it’s something we do naturally as children but lose the ability (get lazy) as we get older. Unfortunately it will take practice to re-learn this skill.
Adopt a plank position and completely contract every muscle possible (especially your core musculature) now try to pack out any loose areas with air by controlling your breathing – try 10 second inhalations followed by 5 seconds holding all the air in.
There is a term known as ‘Power Breathing’ which is worth researching.
Treat Light Weights Heavy & Heavy Weights Light:
When you see people squat you will notice they have varying degrees of technique. Their light weights looks smooth and fast while medium weights slow down and their heavy weights just look horrid.
If you get in to the habit of treating all your lifts like you’ve got your max on the bar then you will start to groove a solid technique. If you watch various videos of top lifters you will notice that all their sets look pretty much the same in terms of set up, execution and speed, yours should too.
Screw Your Feet Into The Floor:
The best way to picture this is like you’re stood in some hot sand and you’re having you ‘screw’ your feet in to it so that you can dig tot he cooler sand underneath. I am sure there are lots of you who have been stood on a beach and done this from time to time mucking around. If you haven’t then find a sand pit and practice this because it will help improve your squatting stability.
You want to feel connected to the floor and solid in your stance, while also help prevent knee collapse (valgus) and create a stable hip too.
Becoming One:
This might sound like some sort of religious scripture but in realistic terms it means using your body as one whole connected unit, meaning everything works together and there is no power leakage at any point (most people move in 2 or 3 sections). Your body goes down as one and comes up as one. That means no hips shooting up first, no pitching forwards, no knee collapse etc.
You can practice this technique by doing wall squats, goblet squats, front squats and pause squats as they will all help you to ‘feel’ your body working as one.
Bonus Tip:
To squat a lot you need to squat a lot.
Realistically to help you improve your movement pattern you will be looking at squatting a minimum of 3 days per week. I would suggest recording all of your sessions so that you can see how your form looks and make sure it’s on point.
If you’re wondering how low you should squat then that answer will be held in your own specific build and hip complex. To find out what depth you can handle assume a kneeling position on all fours and rock backwards and see where, if any, but wink or pelvic tilt occurs because that will be your limit (record this drill so you can see what’s going on).
Use the info above and get your squat from a dodgy 1-1.5xBW for 1 to a solid 2xbw for 5.
Enjoy,
Ross

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