Improve your squat

Try these tips to improve your squat.

1) Squat (and deadlift) beltless for a period of 10 weeks. Lighten the weight and strengthen your technique. This will also help develop core strength. Chances are if your forms is weak, you’re trying to squat with too much weight.

2) Develop a strong core. My personal favorites: spread eagle sit-ups, standing cable ab crunch, leg raises, sled push, ab machine, weighted carries, jack knife, inch worms, slow moving mountain climbers, and timed planks.

3) Use video. You’ll understand where your weak point is. Take the initiative to develop a weak area. You don’t need to get depth if you’re not a powerlifter, but aim for parallel or below the hip crease to the top of the knee.

4) Strong ass, strong squat. If the gluteus maximus isn’t strong, your squat won’t be strong. Take the time to implement different glute exercises. My favorites: Hip thrusts, Stiff leg deadlifts, deficit deadlifts, block pulls, rack pulls, pull-throughs, weighted hyperextensions, GHRs, and reverse hyperextensions.

5) Box squats with various heights with heavy weight and low reps and higher reps with medium weight.

6) Practice different form, stances and toe and foot placement for 10 weeks. Try a different stance for a period of time then switch to another. Be wise and choose your weight carefully.

7) Use weights that are around 60-65% of your 1 rep max and shoot for higher reps.

8) 20 rep squats! Choose a weight you can do for 10 reps and grind all the way to 20. It sucks, but it adds a great amount of mass in a shorter amount of time.

9) Weighted carries, sled pushes and sled drags. These develop all-around body strength and will help you brace more efficiently.

10) When using a belt, choose the right belt. By far the best is a powerlifting belt. Any of the belts from EliteFTS are fantastic and made for support in doing deadlifts and squats. I have no affiliation to them. I just think the website is an amazing resource. Don’t buy a belt form a chain sporting goods store. They usually suck.

11) Know what are you capable of. If you haven’t mastered the back squat, chances are you haven’t mastered that level of exercise. Start out with the bodyweight squat. Then progress to a front-loaded squat (goblet squat, dumbbell squat, sandbag squat, medicine ball squat to name a few). Then progress to a barbell front squat, and finally to a barbell back squat. If you can perform 12 reps of your selected squat variation, move up by adding weight or progress to the next level.

12) Pause at the bottom of your squat for 2 seconds. Point your knees in the direction of your toes and wider. This will develop power and explosive speed when squatting out of the low portion of the squat.

13) As you descend at the beginning of the lift, push your knees wide open by pulling the floor apart with your heels. Make sure your entire foot covers the floor.

14) Don’t neglect single-leg exercises. They’ll strengthen the quads and help develop better balance. Pistol squats, Bulgarian split squats, front foot elevated single-leg squats, step-ups, and lunges, are but a few of the best variations.


Until next time,
Chris Marzarella
Co-Owner of Pure Focus and Trainer. USAPL Club Coach
Read more of Chris’s blog posts here