3 Tips to PR Your Back Squat

Need some instant quality of life improvements to hit your next max effort back squat attempt? Try these three tips.

1. Learn A Proper Walk-Out

This is an issue I’m constantly fixing with novice and intermediate lifters alike. You should put a lot of focus into how you actually unrack and subsequently walkout the weight.

I know this isn’t the “cool” part of the lift, and it doesn’t seem like much is going on, but the better you learn to walk-out the weight from the rack, the easier everything that follows is going to go for you.

A squat walk-out should take no more than 3 steps. Once you get really good you’ll be able to knock that down to only two steps. Un-rack the bar with an even stance, take your first step back, second step, and your final third step is your last adjustment. Nothing more.

Once you complete the third step squat from wherever you’re at. Don’t dance your feet for 10 more seconds, don’t keep moving until you’re perfectly aligned with the rack. Just squat. This will increase your efficiency with the movement, wastes the least amount of energy possible, and is a needed skill for walking out truly heavy squats.


2. Brace Before The Bar Is In Motion

A good majority of the lifting population seems to know what breathing and bracing is thanks to social media. Unfortunately, people will often mess it up when it comes to the squat.

Your brace should be set…before the bar is in motion. This gives you two options you can either take your brace and go through your whole walkout routine. Or you can finish your walkout routine THEN take your brace (choosing between these two is personal preference).

However, what you SHOULDN’T do is try to brace while the bar is already in motion. All to often I’ll see lifters taking in air when their already half way through their squat. This isn’t doing you any good.

Take a big breathe of air…brace…then squat, and I promise you’ll feel much more stable with your lift.

3. Generate Upper Back Tightness

Much like people forget that their legs can contribute to a bench press, many lifters forget that  upper body cues can help them in a squat.

If you aren’t paying any attention to how you have the bar situated on your back, you’re leaving extra pounds that you could be squatting off your lift.

You want to utilize your upper back so the bar is as tight and snug as can be with very little wiggle room for motion. The less that bar moves on your back, the more balance you’ll be overall and the easier your squats will feel.

To generate some solid upper back tightness, thinking about pointing your elbows towards the floor and don’t let them flare back at the wall behind you. Only do this as far as your mobility allows, you shouldn’t be in pain. Overtime you can work to get into a tighter and tighter position.

Matt Molloy

Matt Molloy

I'm a graduate the University of Pittsburgh with a major in Exercise Science. I’m a local guy (North Penn) and athletics has dominated my life. I've led teams in basketball, baseball, soccer, golf and my passion, long distance running. I've been strength training for 6 years with a focus in power-lifting but have recently stretched to strongman since joining the pride here at the Den. When I’m not in the gym I enjoy, spending time with my friends, music, and relaxing and playing some video games.