The squat. It’s no secret this is one of the greatest exercises that can be performed no matter what your goal. Everyone from body builders to powerlifters to football players can benefit from some variation  of this classic lift. 

The movement is as simple as bending at the knees and hips until your hip crease is below the top of your knee and then returning back to standing position  via extending the knees and hips. It can also be as advanced as controlling intra abdominal tension, creating torque at the hips and even leveraging your upper back and shoulders/elbows to create the most efficient bar path. 

There are many ways to squat and for the purpose of simplicity today I am only going to talk about the barbell back squat as a variation. This is NOT for everyone and I genuinely believe that consulting an experienced coach is the best way to ensure you are practising correct technique. 

For body building the squat is often used to grow the quads (and as a secondary, the glutes). To get the most stimulus and hypertrophy in the quadriceps a high bar position (across the upper traps)  with a somewhat olympic (narrow with toes straight ahead) stance is recommended. The movement is initiated with a forward movement of the knees and the lifter should maintain as upright torso position as possible. Generally for maximal hypertrophy we recommend squatting twice a week for 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps. Adding in simple variations like pauses or tempo squats can adjust where the lifter most “feels” the movement. Even if muscle growth is the primary goal it is important to focus on progressing the amount of weight lifted. More weight moved = bigger muscles.

For powerlifting most often we see a low bar position (across the rear deltoids) and a moderate (feet just outside of shoulder width, often with some amount of external rotation at the hip) stance used. This leads to less forward knee travel, increased loading at the hips (allowing the glutes to help more) and a shorter back lever (generally allowing a slightly greater total load to be lifted). Typically we see powerlifters using the 1-6 rep range for a large number of sets, but it is also very important for them to get their volume training (sets of 8+) done when further away from competition. 

The squat for the competitive athlete is still an extremely valuable tool, but must be used much more sparingly. Typically we see the high bar, olympic stance used for several sets of 3-5 reps with a focus on power. This means weight is kept moderate and control + bar speed is the lifters focus. This also helps to make sure that their resistance training will not impact their sport specific practice or competition (game day) performance. 

No matter what your goals are it is important for all lifters to warm up correctly. Paying attention to the hips (glutes, adductors, hip flexors) and core (transverse abdominals and obliques) in particular is very important. If you are unsure then get in touch and we can help out. 

Want to improve your squat? Or just want some more guidance with your health and fitness goals? Then get in touch and see how SFF can help you.