|Putting a picture of a random jacked dude in the article thumbnail doubles my views. America.|
1. Read Starting Strength: As you may have been able to infer from a couple of my past articles, I am a big fan of Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength book. I can't say that I have always been a believer, though. When I read through Starting Strength for the first time, I was still entrenched in the hip-dominant squatting nonsense that the rest of the Internet was wild about. I tried out a couple of the squatting tips from the book, but I never made an effort to fully adopt the style Rippetoe was advocating. The truth is, while I read the book and thought I understood it, I was too stupid to understand that the book is a advocating a specific squatting style rather than presenting a collecting of technical tips. I was trying to combine Rip's style with information from other entities and, in the process, was creating a Frankenstein power squat that was just plain ugly. From what I see on the interwebz, this is actually fairly common. Everybody claims to have read Starting Strength and is quick to proclaim it's brilliance. But, when you actually see these people squat, it is clear to see that they have not taken the time to understand the information. If you really want to learn how to perform a well-balanced squat, then buy the book or, at the very least, read through the abundance of free information that Rippetoe has published to the web. I wish I had done this sooner because, now that I know how to squat, making progress in this movement is as simple as showing up and squatting.
2. Consider buying squat shoes: In addition to buying in to the wide-stance, sit-back squatting hype, I also adhered to the standard footwear recommendation that accompanied this style; I squatted in Chuck Taylors. Everyone on the Internet said they were the best shoe to wear when lifting, and they certainly worked better than my old running shoes. But, as anyone that has made the transition to squat shoes will tell you, you don't realize how soft Chucks are until you put on a pair of squat shoes.
|Conveniently, VS Athletics has a retail store in the town where I go to school.|
3. Learn to shove your knees out: When I first attempted to make the transition from a power squat to a Starting Strength-style squat, my biggest issue was my inability to shove my knees out. All of the squatting movements I had done up until that point had been initiated by pushing my hips straight back. I thought that forcing the hips back was what Rippetoe advocated as well, as one of his main points was that lifters should utilize "hip drive" on the ascent of the squat. In my mind, it only seemed logical to focus on the hips on the descent as well. During the first training session that I did with Ian and Jake (who I mentioned in the first article of this series), they cued me over and over again to force my knees out to the sides to initiate the descent. Due to my old habits and my faulty beliefs, I had a lot of trouble doing this.
|A perfect example of shoving the knees OUT.|
4. Do goblet squats: Goblet squats were an absolutely essential component of my successful squat transition. Before every session I did while retraining my squat, I grabbed a 20kg kettlebell and drilled my new technique. Doing this helped me gain the mobility to adopt sound squatting positions while simultaneously improving my strength and my ability to hold sound squatting positions. When I first started doing goblet squats, I had trouble getting my knees out, particularly in the bottom position. My adductors were tight and I did not have the hip strength to keep my knees out to the sides. Therefore, I initially had to use my elbows to force my knees out as I sat in the bottom of the squat. Over time, my hips and ankles loosened up and my hips got strong enough to keep my knees from caving in. These improvements carried over wonderfully to the squats I did with a barbell on my back.
|DJ, the goblet squat originator?|
5. Get your shoulder mobility under control: Having the requisite shoulder mobility to hold a bar on their back is not a problem that every lifter faces. But, it was a pretty significant problem for me and, from what I see in other lifters' videos, is something that others struggle with as well. Poor shoulder mobility makes it difficult to maintain upper back tightness during the squat. A lack of upper back tightness, as I have stated in the past, can cause your chest to drop and your torso positioning to falter as you fatigue. The more shoulder mobility that you possess, the easier it is to create and maintain upper back tension.
|Mob', adopt this position, squat.|
|Rib cage down, son!|
If you want to get big and strong, then you should want to squat well. Squatting well rarely happens on accident; it takes a good plan and hard work. If you are unsatisfied with your squatting style, then the five tips that I shared can definitely get you pointed in the right direction. Additionally, I have five more tips to share in part 3 of this series. Make sure you return for the final installment, as the last five points will be especially helpful. But, in the meantime, get squattin'.