Having a big squat is one of the best indicators of strength that there is. While the bench press is more popular with the mainstream crowd real lifters know that the squat is a true test of a man’s strength. Higher squat numbers have been correlated with all kinds of good things and real strength. The squat uses nearly every muscle in the body and is great for building real life usable strength. Except for clowns who try to make a name for themselves by saying squatting is bad every tried and true lifter has has squats as part of his program (including the ones knocking squats for publicity sake).
Not squatting would be like not eating steak and eggs. Simply ridiculous with that being said those who want to get their squats up often run into trouble. They’ll hit a certain number and then seem to plateau not sure how to advance further. Well there are many methods to getting one’s squat up and the three that I have found to be most effective I am going to outline here so you can try them out and get those squat numbers up. Now for those exercises.
Exercise #1 – Speed Squats
A staple of the lifters at Westside barbell (who know a thing or two about big squat numbers). Now speed squats are not squatting up and down really fast they are the same as back squats but while using a different protocol. You’re going to be using different weight then you would for a regular squat and you’re also going to be using a different set and rep scheme. Also the point of the exercise is different. Speed squats are about generating power which is key to getting your squat numbers up.
Alright now my numbers may be 100% what others use but they’re what I’ve used and have worked for me. For speed squats I’ll take 60-70% of my squat and do 8 sets of 3 reps focusing on accelerating the weight as fast as possible. There is no grinding here only speed. I sink down and then explode back up as fast as I can (while being smart and using good form). I don’t use bands or anything fancy like that simply focus on generating power.
Exercise #2 – Pause Squats
These might have another name so I’ll describe them. What you do with a pause squat is set the pins so that they are where you’d be if you were at the bottom of the squat position. You then put the barbell on rack at the low position and start from the bottom position and shoot up. This forces you to go from a dead stop and generate enough power to lift the weight without having the energy from descending into the squat. I usually do these for low reps sometimes even singles.
They’re harder then you’d think. You’re going from nothing to something which is a whole lot different then going from something to something (who would’ve thought?). I’m not entirely sure what these do but I know that when I started doing them my squat number went up too. I think it has to do with the power generation much like the speed squats do above. After you do pause squats for awhile you pop out of the hole like never before when going back to regular squats. An area where many squatters have trouble.
Exercise #3 – Front Squats
You’ll notice that every exercise that I have listed to improve your squat is a squat. The closer you can get to the actual exercise (generally) the better effect it’ll have on that exercise. Not always but generally. Your close grip bench press will help your regular bench press and your Romanian deadlift will help your normal deadlift and so on and so forth. The front squat shares many things in common with the back squat and hits many of the same muscle groups in a slightly different way giving you just enough change to cause new adaptations.
Front squats hit you quads much more than regular squats do. Combine front squats with some Romanian deadlifts and you’ll have a good even development that is going to transfer over to your squatting numbers. I’d do front squats with the same set and rep scheme that you did squats with. They’re good for moderate sets and moderate reps not something I’d do 20 rep squats on and not something I’d do singles or doubles with. A good middle of the road exercise.
So there you have it. Three great exercises that you can use to get those squat numbers up. I wouldn’t recommend throwing them all in at once or doing squatting on the same day that you do them. These are not assistance exercises but rather exercises designed to replace your squat for a certain period of time. Rotate them in and out then return to squatting and see how your numbers have changed. Adjust as needed.
If you have any questions you would like to see answered in a future post send them to me at charlessledge001 (at) gmail (dot) com. If you found value in this post then I would encourage you to share this site with someone who may need it as well as check out my books here. I appreciate it. You can follow me on Twitter here.