Let’s talk about one of the most important lifts in any program. The Squat. For starters if you aren’t doing some sort of squatting, you are missing out on a lot of gains! We highly recommend making time in your life for the squat and its variations. Just start off simple by squatting 1x a week (high bar or low bar) and increasing frequency over time.
We are here to abolish the chicken leg epidemic!!
Who’s with me?!
Recently in The Den it’s been a testing week so we have the pleasure of watching our athletes hit some PR’s and smash weights. This is also a great time to see our weak areas in the lifts and what we need to improve upon. I want to cover a couple key tips that I think will help a lot of you in your squat and we are going to focus mostly on the walk out and taking the bar off of the rack.
These tips all will affect bar path, and our main goal is to have a straight bar path keeping the movement as efficient as possible.
First off before going after ANY lift, make sure you are using imagery and visualization techniques to focus in on success.
COMPLETE THE FORM TO GET ON THE LIST
Here’s how I visualize my squat:
Prior to getting set up I’m going over my cues in my head, and already mentally visualizing the success of the lift. See it here
The Back Position For Your Squat:
Depending on how you are squatting will dictate how the bar sits on your back. Usually for high bar back squats the bar is sitting on the meat of the traps. For the low bar, the bar is sitting along the “Shelf” which is made up of the rear deltoid muscles and right above the spine of the scapula.
All this does is have you squat at different joint angles which just influences how force is applied. Usually most lifters will be able to squat more overall weight with a low bar squat position. LOTS will argue one is greater than the other, but we use them both! (Article coming out in the future addressing this topic deeper).
Squat Grip Width:
Once your back position is determined the next will be your grip width. This is totally up to each individual as everyone has different ranges of motion their shoulders will allow. We go over the pro’s/cons of having a wide/narrow grip in our upcoming squat program. Get on the list here
Once we have our grip established this is where I see a lot of people making mistakes that can easily be fixed. What I’ve been seeing a lot of as mentioned in the video is high elbows in the squat, which is causing the bar to roll forward on the persons back. This is bad because is it causing the bar path to be thrown off and putting the athlete in a very inefficient squatting position. Also, if the weight is heavy it could result in the athlete dumping the bar forward or causing a missed lift.
At the same time, I have also seen athletes with the elbows push forward and the bar sitting in the fingertips of the hand rather the palm. This can put the athlete in a very unstable position, which makes it hard to secure the bar during reps.
What to Do:
The best thing to do is have a coach watch your squat and give you feedback or you can record yourself. Your elbows should be in line with your torso as you descend and ascend in the squat. Make any adjustments to your elbows and wrists as needed to tidy it up. In MOST cases the more you squat and looser your wrists/shoulders will become and you can get into the proper position. However, if you are experiencing severe pain or simply unable to get a solid grip, they make specialty bars that can work around this issue. Before going that route, give it a fair shot and see if you adjust.
After the walk out of the rack prior to descending we want to make sure the bar is glued to our back and we are “tight” meaning we retract the scapula’s, and depress them, while flexing our muscle to keep the bar in place.
This is called “Bracing”. I also like to add in the cue to “bend the barbell” around your body.
I’ve made a more in depth video of it HERE for you to watch. *Do this while taking your belly breath*
Check where you’re looking while you squat:
If you are looking down at the ground your body is going to tend to have a forward lean. If its too drastic this can lead to the bar shifting forward in the squat throwing off the bar path. That’s no Bueno. The same goes for looking too far up or cranking your neck to the ceiling (Don’t laugh, I see this a lot).
We want to keep our gaze neutral and looking a few feet ahead of us. This will keep the bar secured in the proper position.
Your setup and the the entire beginning of your lift will have a huge influence on your squat. Next time you go to squat take an extra moment to go over the above tips to set you up for success.
Don’t neglect the small stuff!