4 Ways to Increase Your Squat - FAST
Talking about the back squat (though some of these movements and concepts will help increase the front squat as well), we have to first recognize some of the differences in the back squat. So if we do a high bar back squat with the bar higher up on the traps, I prefer the elbows just under or slightly back, feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, and my feet pointing out. From there, I control the eccentric, catch the bounce, and come up out of the bottom as rigid as possible with an upright trunk.
The second movement we will utilize to identify a back squat, a low bar back squat (which only heathens…just kidding, lol) with the bar sitting just around where the rear delts and shoulder blades come across. The hands will be wider out on the barbell and the heels will be out a little bit more than they were on the low bar. We can squat to parallel, or, if the mobility is present in the hips, we can go full range of motion. Same upright posture while thinking to drive the sternum up.
Let’s go into the four key concepts to increase your back squat as fast as possible!
1. Low Bar To 90° With Wider Stance
Remember, this is to increase the back squat as fast as possible. Imagine today is a Tuesday and on Sunday, six days from now, you have to increase your back squat as fast as possible. Being a high bar back squatter that squats ass to grass, I can cheat. As a heathen who sumo deadlifts, I can cheat and arrange the test to fit the model. So someone like me with long limbs can go ahead and squat low bar with partial range of motion, utilizing a shallow range, or just around ninety degrees.
The simplest thing to do, as a high bar back squatter, is a squat low bar with shallow depths with a little bit wider of a stance.
2. Back Squat Daily & Increase Volume
When my first son was born, Lincoln, in 2011 my front squat was pathetic. I judged myself as a horrible human being because my front squat was so bad. So I met with one of my strength coaches, Dan Marrone, and what we decided is that I would front squat every single day for two years straight. My front squat went from 165 kilos to about 212 kilos. That happened from front squatting every single day. A 100+ lbs increase just from squatting every single day!
What that means is, if trying to increase your squat as quickly as possible, before going to the test means we need to squat daily. This also means to increase the volume to allow you to find your groove, speed, and find different points in the movement that can be worked on. You’ll start looking at the squat as a technical movement.
This doesn’t mean that you have to squat to a max every single day. What it means is somedays four doubles will suffice. The next day maybe one set of five. Maybe on the third day, it can be pushed to a heavy single. Playing around with sets and reps is a nice manner to keep things fresh. Adding the volume allows you to feel more zeroed into the movement to increase the overall max back squat.
3. The Variation Contrast Method
Let’s lead in with after we describe it, is that we can do micro or macro. What does this mean?!?
A variation on the back squat means we could do a high bar back squat with a pause in the bottom before driving up. Another variation could be a double bounce in the bottom and then drive up. We can do a variation of a squat first.
In the micro setup, on day 1 we can do pause back squats for five sets of doubles. The contrast would be, on that same day, we would do a set or two of a normal back squat to bring in the contrast. So five sets of the variation and then one or two sets of the traditional high bar back squat.
From a macro perspective, on day 1 we may do a pause back squat, day 2 double bounce back squat, day 3 pin back squats, and then on day 4 do normal back squats. This means we are doing it with higher volume but we are also utilizing the variation contrast method.
We can utilize the various movements to increase positions that you might struggle with. Going high volume will allow you to discover what positions you struggle in, like collapsing forward. This creates a window to add in pin squats, box squats, safety bar squats, duffalo bar squats, or whatever squat is needed.
4. Get Used To Squatting Heavy
The best thing that can be done is to get used to squatting heavy. So if the test is to squat to a max, squat up to 90%, 95%, or 100% on specific days of the week. Since I tend to be a little lazy is I might do five singles at 90-95% or five doubles at 90% and over time that pushes my maximum back squat. What happens is I get used to the position with the heavier load, the feeling with the heavier load, and the speed I need to have with the heavier load. Then when you come in the gym and feel could just tell you’re juiced up and got great sleep the night before, it is go time to push the squat.
Utilize this concept once, twice, maybe three times a week. Just be aware this is when you can get banged up so make sure you monitor your body and take care of mobility.
Ultimately, if the test is squatting heavy, you have to figure out which technique is needed, how to get in the groove, use the variation contrast method, or undulate between higher volume and squatting heavier. Take these four key factors into effect and watch that squat blow up as fast as possible.
Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.