10/20/Life: Fixing Your Squat

Identifying your weak points and fixing them is the most important part of any program. I can’t stress this enough. Instead of following a cookie-cutter program and getting mediocre results, you need to learn how to coach yourself by customizing your own training program to meet your particular needs. That’s how this works.

This is the first installment of a series designed to show how 10/20/Life will teach you how to do this. The idea is to show a video of someone performing one of the big lifts, followed by an explanation of what the person’s weak points are, and how they should be fixed. Today, we’ll address the squat, talking directly to the person who submitted the video:

APPROACH: This isn’t too bad. You set up pretty well, but you need to be tighter and more direct with your walkout. Your back gets a little soft, and your elbows come up slightly as your chest lowers. This isn’t a dealbreaker, but it will definitely hurt on your max attempts.

FORM: You’re a little bit “slinky” here. This causes you some back movement, along with a big hinge in the middle of your squat. See below for more suggestions, but in terms of your form, focus on pulling your elbows down and locking in your back. You can’t move your back like that and expect to stay tight and healthy. Aside from this, you’re okay, but the things I mentioned are pretty big.

WEAK POINTS: Mid and upper back, big time. Strengthening your core in general will help your walkout, along with your tightness on both your descent and your ascent. More lat and upper back power will prevent you from folding up the way you are, and it’ll keep you locked in. Refer to my lifter’s wedge video for both the squat and the deadlift to learn how to lock in your back. Grip the floor like a monkey—see how you’re rocking back and forth?—and lock your gaze on the point where the wall meets the ceiling.

FIX: Along with the cues I gave you above, here are the exercises you should be adding to your routine. Add the back work in on deadlift day, and the core work can be done at any time:

McGill Pull-ups: 4-12 singles (use band if necessary).

Barbell Rows: 3×10

Double-Overhand Shrugs: 3×10

Stir the Pot: 3×50

Lifter’s Wedge (with empty bar): A few sets


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Brian Carroll

Brian is a world-class powerlifter with over two decades of elite and pro-level powerlifting under his belt. Coming back from a devastating back injury in 2012 that broke multiple bones and that most experts said he would never recover from, he has returned to the pinnacle of world-class lifting (while 100% pain and symptom-free) and is now dedicated to helping others avoid the same mistakes that he made in the past through private and group coaching in Jacksonville, FL. Brian’s impressive recovery has given him the opportunity to teach and deliver talks to physical therapists, chiropractors, medical doctors, professional strength & conditioning coaches and experts from all facets of sport, on how to avoid injury, while building anti-fragile strength and resilience in athletes.

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