Squat Tip: How To Build Power Out of The Hole

1. Pauses, Pauses, and More Pauses

First thing to do whenever you find you’re bad at something…practice it.

You suck out of the bottom of your squat? Probably should spend more time in the bottom of your squat. You are going to solve this problem by running away from it, so if you are truly serious about getting better out of the hole I’d strongly consider working pause squats into your routine.

There’s nothing “magic” about this solution either. It’s quite literally working on your weak point and that’s it.

If all you are giving yourself is a steady diet of pause squats overtime you are going to become more and more confident in the hole. You’ll eventually get yourself to a point where you can hold RPE 9-10 effort squats for 2 to 3 count holds without ever doubting the fact that you’ll make it back up.

2. Stop Divebombing

Even if you aren’t yet experiencing problems out of the hole this is an issue you want to fix immediately.

Divebombing” a squat refers to dropping to the bottom position of your squat with very little control, and catching the subsequent bounce out of the hole to utilize momentum to lift weights.

Admittedly this works…up to like 400lbs…but it does work, which results in many beginner to intermediate lifters seeing it as a viable squat technique.

The problem is divebombing squats is false confidence. It will feel really good at lighter loads, you’ll feel really powerful, probably move the weights at a decent speed, but I guarantee this will all the sudden stop working for you and you’re going to be left wondering what happened.

Start learning how to control your squats. Those pause squats will be a great place to start, but this is something you should be thinking about regardless of the variation you are doing. You should be able to very easily control what depth you are squatting to, without having to bottom out, as well as redirect your squat up with your own strength…not momentum. 

A lot of people don’t have “strength problems in the hole” they just never learned how to utilize their strength in the hole because they divebomb every rep.

High level, heavy squats really become a balance and stability game more than anything else, which is something I guarantee you won’t have if you divebomb squats. You’re far better of over the long haul to start learning how to control the movement today.

3. Treat Every Squat Like It’s Max Effort

Something you’ll see that’s pretty common across lifters is a lack of focus on warm-up sets.

First warmup set just going through the motions. Second warmup set barely paying attention. Third warmup set was talking to their friend while squatting. First working set…okay now I’ll start to actually use my cues.

I get it. They are warmup sets, they’re kinda boring, and this isn’t exactly life or death. That being said, you shouldn’t expect your body to suddenly “flip the switch” to performance mode if you haven’t been giving any attention to detail to your warmups.

Treat all of your squats like you are going for a max effort set. The degree to which you brace, how well you lock in your rack position, how well you drive out your knees, and the degree of force you generate out of the hole should be consistent across ALL of your squats.

This puts you in the right mindset for lifting right out of the starting gate. It also guarantees you are both physically AND mentally warmed up for your harder working sets.

A lot of problems in the hole are due to a momentary lack of stability/tightness which is generally attributable to a lack of focus. Treat every squat with respect and you won’t run into this problem ever again.

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.