If ever there was an exercise synonymous with leg training, the barbell squat
is surely it? Squats are very much in the public eye at the moment, as people are finally realizing that they aren’t just exercises performed by meat heads in the gym for the sake of showing off. No, instead, people are realizing that squats are not only great for building a great booty and muscular set of legs, but they’re also very practical and functional too. In fact, in terms of functionality, you’d struggle to find a more practical and functional exercise than the squat. After all, just stop and think how many times you have to squat down a day. Whether you’re sitting in a chair, standing up, putting on your shoes, tying your shoe laces, grabbing something from a cupboard, or even going to the bathroom, you squat literally hundreds of times per day without realizing. It makes sense then, that improving your squat in the gym will yield benefits that go above and beyond building a great butt, but can it be done? Well, yes it can, and to prove it, here’s a look at a few simple ways of improving your squat. Work on your form –
To begin with, when it comes to squatting you simply must make sure that your form is absolutely perfect, no matter what. If your form is off, even slightly, not only will the lift itself suffer, but more importantly is the fact that you run the risk of seriously injuring yourself. If you want to improve your squat and lift heavier weights with better form, you must first begin by concentrating on getting your form perfect. Practice with just the bar and use very light weights to begin with. To work on your form you should focus on your posterior chain, which is comprised of your spinal erectors, your glutes, and your hamstrings. Squat down with no weights or bars, keep your weight on your heels, and try to sit back as far as you can go. Strengthen your back –
Although the squat is predominantly about working the legs, you should actually strengthen your back if you wish to improve it. You see, when you apply the force required to execute a squat, you do so via the spinal column. In order to strengthen your back in order to generate the force necessary to execute a powerful squat, work on compound exercises such as bent over rows, deadlifts, and hip extensions. Strengthen your core –
As important as it is to build a strong back, this pales in comparison to the importance of building a strong core if you wish to perform a strong squat. You see, you use your core muscles in your abdomen to create the pressure in the spine needed to perform a squat, so if your core is weak, so too will be your squat. When training your core, make sure you include plenty of variety, instead of focussing just on crunches. Train heavy –
To increase the amount of weight you can squat, you will need to train heavy and you will need to know your 1 rep max for this particular exercise. If you don’t know, there are tools you can use online to work this out. Once you have this figure, aim to squat at around 90% of your 1RM a couple of times each week. Aim for 3 sets of 2 – 3 reps. It will be tough, but it works, and boy does it work well.