We all have been in a place where we have struggled with the range of motion, knee pain and lower back pain while doing barbell squats. Then comes the gym Bro who mocks your squat depth or load without understanding the possible restrictions you could be having while performing the squat!
Do you relate to above squat issues?
Want to squat max weight with impeccable technique possible?
If YES, this is a must read for you.1) Mobility & Flexibility
During a squat, we need adequate mobility (range of motion about a joint) especially around the hip, knee, shoulder, and ankle joint. Everyone is aware of the previous point but doing it wrong, especially when performing exercises to improve the range of motion of the above joints. Whenever you introduce a drill to improve mobility and flexibility, you should test its translation in the squat. A squat is a dynamic movement and will require dynamic (moving) flexibility and stability. Only introduce the drills which improve your squat, not your static flexibility.
2-4 specific dynamic stretches after your general warm-up, no need of mindless static stretching before or after squats.
© YouTube2) Tempo
Beginners do this all the time, diving into the bottom position of squats without control. Not only does this potentially affect one's balance in the squat but also can cause injuries due to load shifting forward or backward. Tempo is an important tool which beginners, intermediates and advanced gym goers have applied successfully to enhance squat technique. Tempo helps to gain control of the movement and makes the person more aware of his or her body position WRT space.
3-4 Seconds on the eccentric portion of the squat is good for most people to achieve the benefits of Tempo. A brief 1-second pause in the bottom position can also be added3) Progression
Without fixing the above two points, beginners jump on to the barbell squat and then perform it poorly. Don't get intimidated by heavy squatters or jump on the heavy squat wagon just yet! You can always utilize squat progressions to improve slowly and be able to perform the barbell squat without any hesitation later on. Feel free to use the below progression depending upon your current stage
Wall Holds--->B.W box squat---->B.W squat---->Goblet squat---->Back squat
**Utilise tools such as tempo, box & kettlebells for above progressions
© Quora4) Video Analysis
Although this point is super important, most seem to neglect it or use it sparingly. Always record a video from a side angle to check your bar path, knee, hips, shoulder, and ankle movement. Compare your video with the optimal position for squat and work on improving the same every set and training session
The bar should travel mostly straight, balance should be maintained over mid foot, hips and knees should move in synergy, knees and ankles shouldn't be collapsing inward, and shoulder blades should be retracted and depressed are some of the crucial aspects you should be looking at.5) 80-20 Heuristic
Regardless of the changes you implement to improve your squat, there will be minor issues. On one end of the spectrum, there are people who run behind the perfect technique and on the other end who do not care about technique at all. The one running behind perfect technique misses out on micro load progression and the other risks injury. It's better to find a comfortable ground between those two extremes to keep constant improvement. The technique will be affected and you have to accept it and move forward.
80% lift performed correctly with no pain or discomfort is probably good to go.
Yash Sharma is a former national level Football player, now a Strength Coach, Nutritionist and Natural Bodybuilder. He also runs a YouTube Channel Yash Sharma Fitness via which he aims to educate all the fitness enthusiasts to maximize their gains by methods that are backed by science and applicable easily. Connect with him on YouTube, YashSharmaFitness@gmail.com, Facebook and Instagram.