September 8, 2014

How to Improve a Weak Squat

Written by:
Marc Keys

Everyone has a weak lift, it’s human nature.  It’s not usually possible to be a good build for all of the lifts in the gym, some people are blessed with the ideal leg and torso length or have naturally flexible ankles and can sit into a beautiful full depth squat with little or no work. Others not so much.  In this article I will cover some ways to tackle a weak squat.

Work on your mobility

One of the most common problems with people and squat is a lack of mobility in the ankles and abductors.  This can cause the lifter to either lean forward too much in the lift as depth increases (inflexible ankles stopping knee travel) or having the lifter’s knee’s collapsing at the bottom of the lift due to tight abductors pulling the knees in this can also cause forward lean.

Quick Fix

Between every squat set perform the following stretches: calves x 15 seconds each side and goblet x 30 seconds.

Goblet Squat

Your form needs a lot of work

More than any of the other powerlifts the squat is a complex “ish” movement that requires a lot of coordination, mobility and flexibility therefore if you don’t get it right straight away it can be a nightmare to perform since you are not clicking how to perform the lift correctly.  Therefore some variety might help you take certain parts of the movement and put them into a different context helping you to learn the movement without having to stress constantly about doing the same thing wrong over and over.  Short of hiring a coach you can do a simple thing yourself to help yourself learn the movement.

Quick Fix...

Squat 3 x per week and each time perform 2 different squat variations and mix the part of the week they happen.

  • Work out one – Overhead squat – 3 sets of 5, front squat – 5 sets of 5
  • Work out two – Box Squat 5 sets of 5, pause squat – 3 sets of 5
  • Work out three – Safety Bar Squat – 3 sets of 10, Deficit Trap Bar Deadlift – 3 sets of 10

This way you put the skill into a different context every workout which will help you to learn the skill much more quickly without having to rehash the same errors time and time again.

Perform a 3 week block of training like this and come back to squatting every workout and see how different and fresh the movement feels.

You need to squat more...

You just don’t get under a bar with enough frequency to be any good at it.  If you're like most lifters you squat 1x per week, this works for a lot of people. However for people who get no traction with this approach it is normally a great bit of advice to perform a programme with a higher frequency.

Here are three programmes that will help you to squat better if your form and mobility are reasonably good.

Russian Squat Masters (2x per week)

Russian Squat Routine (3x per week)

Smolov Base cycle (4x per week)

Happy Squatting!

Marc Keys

Written by Marc Keys of Cast Iron Strength Marc is a full time strength and conditioning coach based in Edinburgh Scotland. Working in the field for 6 years he has accrued a wealth of experience working with professional & international rugby and cricket teams, Elite athletes from over 20 sports including Commonwealth, Olympic and Paralympic medallists.Marc also spends his spare time working with non-elite and recreational athletes trying to help them improve as optimally as possible. He keeps a blog and website where he is trying to develop a strength and power training education tool and community for athletes and coaches.Marc offers his services to anyone who has programming or training based problems he can be emailed via the following address with any queries.

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