If you’ve been hitting the gym and doing your squats, but you’re not seeing any improvement in leg size or strength, there are a few ways you can adjust your routine to get the maximum benefit. Try these tips to get your squats to the next level.
1. Focus On Technique
You should always remember that technique is more important than weight or speed. You need to be sure you’re doing it right before you start adding more weight, or else you’re putting yourself at risk. When you squat, you should keep your chest up, hips back, and knees out. As my high school weight lifting instructor used to always say, you should imagine that you’re pooping in the woods.
A good way to practice this technique is to try wall squats. Stand facing a wall with your feet about six inches away and squat down without hitting the wall. This will help you maintain proper form and keep yourself balanced. Then, when you’re doing an actual squat, just imagine there is a wall in front of you that you can’t hit.
2. Strengthen Your Core
A strong core is key to maintaining balance and focus while you’re squatting. In order to be successful while squatting, you need to have full body strength. That means you can’t ignore other exercises. Make sure to do lots of core exercises like planks and crunches to maintain a strong core.
Before each squat, take a deep breath, expanding your chest and abdomen. This will help you hold your position and balance more effectively through the whole motion. Go slowly and focus on your breathing while you squat.
3. Strengthen Your Upper Back
Because squats are a full-body workout, you need to develop strength everywhere, particularly your shoulders and upper back. When you’re not squatting, fit some upper back exercises in, like bent over rows and band pull-aparts. Plus, you should always make sure to fit in pull ups and chin ups into your exercise routines.
4. Tighten Your Grip
A good squat involves solid tension through your whole upper body to hold the weight and posture required. The first step to building that tension is a strong grip. Grip the bar as hard as you can and take a deep breath before every squat to create strong tension that will carry you through the motion. Chalk your hands to get a better grip and avoid hurting yourself.
5. Get Different Shoes
If you have tight ankles that don’t allow you to squat low enough, try some weightlifting shoes that have an elevated heel. They will allow you to improve your squatting technique and stay upright. You should also practice ankle stretches to get yourself more limber and ready for the task at hand. Most ankle stretches are easy to do and can be done anywhere. You should stretch a few times a day, whether you’re at work or at home watching TV, so you’ll be nice and limber when you squat.