THE SQUAT EXERCISE
This workout uses the squat exercise to increase your power for the Squat event in Powerlifting. We will explain the proper form for the Squat and the benefits of the Squat also.
The proper form for the Squat exercise begins with bar placement. You want to have the bar rest on your traps, not your neck. By squeezing your shoulder blades together, you create a shelf on the top of your traps. Position the bar on top of this shelf and across the rear deltoids. Hold it in place by gripping the bar with a hand spacing that is comfortable for you, and tucking your elbows under the bar.
The next step in proper form for the Squat is stance. Now that you have the bar in position, take a deep breath and hold it. Stand up with the bar, clearing the racks. You want to have a fairly wide stance, say at least 24 inches between your feet. Some will want to go wider, but you will have to experiment to find out what your flexibility and balance will allow. Step back with your left foot to the spot that you want it to be for squatting. Now do the same with the right foot. You should be close to where you want to be to squat. If you need to adjust your feet slightly, do so, but don't waste your energy! When you are in position, you may exhale. This whole process should only take a few seconds, so you shouldn't be holding your breath for long. The reason you hold it is to remain stable with all the weight on your shoulders while you are moving around.
The proper form for the Squat exercise begins with the hips. Take a giant breath and hold it. Rotate your hips back and simulate reaching to sit on a chair behind you. Only after you have begun the movement in your hips, may you bend your knees. The majority of movement during the squat is in your hips. Your lower legs should remain parallel to the ground throughout the movement. Keep lowering your hips until the top of your hips is below the top of your knees. When you reach that point, reverse directions, leading with your head and shoulders. What I mean by that is that you should conciously look up slightly and straighten your upper body at the same time as you squat out of the bottom. If you fail to lead with your head, your hips will rise first and leave you leaning forward, making the squat more difficult on your back and maybe too much to complete. When you have returned to the starting position, exhale and take another breath. Repeat the same process for each repetition.
Now that you have the proper form for the Squat exercise mastered, it is time to get to the workout. The first thing to do is warm up with a light weight. I usually start with 135 pounds. Brent Mikesell, who has squatted 1141 pounds in a contest, begins with only the 45 pound bar! I am not very flexible, so I need the extra weight to help push me down into position. Do about 10 to 15 reps with your warm-up weight and then stretch and rest for 3 minutes.
Add weight to about 50 percent of your 1 rep maximum and do a set of 5 repetitions, making sure to set up properly and complete every rep in perfect form. The squat is an awesome exercise, but if you want to lift the heaviest weights you can, you must perfect your form by working on it constantly. After each set, stretch and rest for 3 to 5 minutes.
Load the bar to approximately 80 percent of your 1 rep max in the squat exercise, and complete a set of 5 repetitions in proper form. Do this for a total of 5 sets at this weight, stretching and resting between each set as prescribed.
Do this number of sets and reps for 3 weeks and then change it to 5 sets of 3 reps at approximately 85 percent of your 1 rep max for 2 weeks. Everything else remains the same. After 2 weeks, do 3 sets of 1 rep at 90 percent for 1 week and 3 sets of 1 rep at 95 percent for 1 week. If you are feeling good and have spotters, you can try for a Personal Record, but be careful!
The squat is not only beneficial for Powerlifting, but for bodybuilding as well.
Tips for improved strength in the Squat exercise!
In competition it is almost a necessity to use special squat equipment to compete in the squat exercise. This is to include a power belt, knee wraps, groove briefs, and a power squat suit. There are a variety of these available, in various quality and price ranges. I will include some of this information in future articles. Sign up for our free newsletter, the No Limits Physique News, for this kind of information in the future!