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How to Build A Bigger Squat

by Ben Thompson

One of the most common questions we get asked as trainers is, "How do I build a bigger Squat?".

The answer isn't simple and there are a number of considerations you should be aware of. The first step would be to ensure you have perfect technique. No training program or method will help, if you have bad technique. Like all other lifts, ensure each rep is perfect.


Our advice to you if you find your reps don’t look identical or you are unsure if you are using the right technique is to find a coach in your local area who can assess you. This needs to be your starting point because adding load and volume to a bad pattern will only make the problem worse.   

What to look for in a perfect squat.

  • Hamstrings touching your calves.

  • The lifter maintains tension throughout the lift.

  • Torso should remain as upright as possible.


Below is a picture of American weightlifter Kendrick Farris who demonstrates perfect squat technique.  


Note:
Your individual mechanics will differ which means there is no one size fits all approach for things like stance width, toe angle and whether you should use a hip or knee break.  

 

What we recommend

Once the lifter has progressed past the novice stage and can execute reps with perfect technique, its time to add volume. Often when we take on new clients at Movement Enhanced they are in a mindset of breaking up the week as body part splits.


While there is nothing wrong with this, we find there are more optimal training splits for strength than training a movement once per week.


When trying to master a lift there is the technical aspect as well as the frequency at which you perform it. What we recommend if you are struggling to increase your squat is to increase the frequency in which you perform the lift.  Instead of squatting once per week, look at adding 1-2 more squat session per week. What this does is increases your weekly training volume but also improves your technique as you're performing the lift more frequently.

What does this look like? 

Below is an example layout of how we have programmed squats for our members for Phase 1 in 2018. In this first phase we have a squat focus, meaning it is done more frequently than all other lifts. As you can see below, we squat three times per week.


The squat variations and intensities are varied each day. On Monday we use percentage based prescription and on Wednesday and Friday we apply a tempo to the lift. 

  • Monday: High Bar Back Squat 

  • Wednesday: Front Squat 

  • Friday: Paused High Bar Back Squat


 

Summary

The key take home point for this post is, frequency is a misunderstood training variable for progress. Focus on mastering the lift first, then increase the times it is performed. Add weekly volume by performing the lift 2-3 times per week rather than trying to complete a ridiculous about of training volume in one session.


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