Barbell Squats – Tips and Techniques for a Better Squat
Barbell squats are probably one of the most difficult exercises to perform correctly and are often slaughtered beyond recognition by most people. The old saying “form first” couldn’t be truer when it comes to performing this exercise. However, most people put weight before form in an effort to stroke their ego and impress onlookers. Putting your ego before form in barbell squats will eventually catch up with you and lead to severe lower back and knee pain or even torn ligaments.
Follow the tips below to improve your barbell squats:
1.) Line up your hands using the same barbell grip you use when you bench press your one rep max (this works for most people). Going with too wide a grip can cause the bar to roll down your back, which can cause injury. Going with too close a grip can put a lot of pressure on your wrists, elbows, and shoulders.
two.) Try to set the bar in the drop between your medial and rear delts. Depending on how much muscle mass you have, this can help keep the bar stable and in place at all times.
3.) Your chest should look flat in the mirror in front of you at all times during the squat. By flat, I mean the same way you see your chest as if you were standing in front of the mirror with good posture.
4.) Squat down until the tops of your thighs are parallel to the ground. It’s best to use a mirror next to you to measure this because the mirror in front of you can make it look like you’re much deeper into the squat than you really are.
5.) Your stance should be at shoulder height or a little closer. This will help you isolate your quads and take some weight off your spinal erectors at the end of the rep.
6.) Barbell squats are one of the few exercises where you have to hold your breath at the bottom of the rep. Begin by taking a deep breath before slowly lowering yourself to the end of the rep. By the time you’re at the bottom of the rep, your lungs should be maxed out and hold as much air as possible. Keep holding your breath all the way until you’re about five inches from the top of the rep, then exhale and repeat. This will help fill in the cavities in your torso, which will ultimately help stabilize your spine and prevent back injury at the bottom of the rep.
7.) Make sure you have a lot of flexibility in your calves or you won’t be able to perform a barbell squat properly. Not having enough flexibility in your calves will cause you to lean forward onto your toes at the bottom of the rep, eventually leading to back injury. Take time to stretch your calves every day to gain more flexibility.
8.) Always push with your heels. This will help you isolate your quads and take a lot of the weight off the arch of your foot. Putting this kind of weight toward the front of your feet can cause sunken arches. Try to wear a shoe that offers some support for the arch of your feet when doing any type of heavy leg exercise.
9.) Wear a belt when performing heavy barbell squats. This will keep your abs tight throughout the set, which will help stabilize your spine. Make sure your belt is snug and that you wear it low enough on your waist.
10.) Wrap your knees in your heaviest sets. This can prevent you from squatting too low and hurting or tearing a quad muscle. It’s important not to use knee wraps like springs using momentum to bounce up and down at the bottom of the rep.
If you implement these ten tips, chances are you’ll need to lighten the load on your next squat day. It can also take a long time to get back to the weight you used in the past without using these tips. Just make sure you stick to the techniques and eventually you’ll be squatting more than you ever dreamed of and you’ll have the legs to show it. Just remember that bodybuilding isn’t about weight, it’s about form and building a well-balanced, muscular physique. Patience, hard work, consistency, and perseverance will ultimately prevail in the sport of bodybuilding.