How’s the squatting going? Lose the skinny jeans yet? For the sake of generations to come, let’s all hope so. I know it may seem slow moving, and light weight at five to seven reps may seem like you’re going nowhere fast, where in reality you’re going somewhere great… just slowly. But you’re on the right path. Remember, anything gained quickly, is lost quickly. Let’s build a wide base and a tall tower.
Let’s start putting some weight on the bar. Those sets of five to seven need to be stepped up and now is the time to do it. Since you’ve been practicing on a box for quite some time now and know how to land gently, let’s up the weight and box squat. Set the box to 90 degrees or just below, and if your options are limited, lower is better than higher. You never know when you might compete in the IPF. What would be ideal here is to pick a tough weight that’d be very tough for five sets of five at a deep box squat where you “tap and go”.
**Tap and go meaning your ass taps the box and you come up with the weight.**
If you’ve made it through four sets and gotten all five, slightly increase the weight for the fifth set and hit your five reps. The following week increase your reps by about five percent and proceed the same.
Keys with the box squat:
Keep a vertical shin angle. Using the box allows you to sit back more than you usually would with a free bar squat. Get used to sticking that ass out. It’ll help you grow one.
Spread the floor. I also like to coach “press on the outside of your shoes” or “spread your knees”. This helps engage your glutes, which help with hip extension… this means more muscles helping you squat!
Drive your heels! Don’t roll up on to your toes and try to squat with your quads. They’ll be recruited as necessary, try to press your whole foot through the floor and use your hamstrings and glutes to extend your hips.
Have a higher rep day in your program with no box. I like to squat on my deadlift day, even if it’s just two or three sets. Take about 60-70% of what you’ve been using for your heaviest set of successful five reps and do it for two or three sets of 12 reps.
Familiarize yourself with proper depth without a box there to cue you when you’ve hit depth. Also start getting some reps to condition your erectors.
These reps will not only help you correct yourself as far as depth goes, but help build some mass on your stems. Nobody wants to walk around with legs looking like they should be hanging from a nest.
Train your low back! Every body new to squatting, or avoiding squatting is concerned with either their knees or low back. By sitting back we focus the bulk of the work to our posterior chain. In doing such, we take care of the knees. But what about our backs? We have to train them to prepare to be awesome (awesome = huge squat)!!
Start by doing either 45 degree or parallel back extensions with a long hold at the top, 6-8 seconds. Once you can successfully do three sets of 12 reps, start adding weight. I start most by holding a weight at their chest. Once they get to 25lbs or so, add a barbell to your back. If you have at your disposal use a safety squat bar, if not, get comfortable holding a regular barbell on your back.
Work up to three or four sets of eight to 12 sets of weight back extensions and watch your squat go through the roof! Generally when focussing on my squat my low back feels like (insert graphic adjective here) every day of the week. By the time it starts to feel better, I’m training it again.
Keep working hard. Remember, squatting cures 87% of the world’s problems.