Squat: 5 things I wish I knew 25 years ago

Squat: 5 things I wish I knew 25 years ago

Squat: 5 things I wish I knew 25 years ago. I will throw out these tips I would have significantly needed 25 years ago while training at the local Powerhouse gym. As the saying goes, “it’s the little things.” Those little things make the most significant difference in anything and everything we do.

Start the squat with the hips, not the knees 

It doesn’t matter your style (narrow, wide, moderate). Most solid (not all) squats start with a “hip hinge.” This is not just good for your back; it’s optimal for getting the most power and strength out of that squat and keeping you in your groove. Some people have trouble finding their bar path/groove, and it’s due to breaking at the knees first. Easy correction! And for more specific coaching on the squat, you can check out this YOUTUBE SERIES ON THE SQUAT. 

 Do not watch yourself in a mirror while squatting.

If you are still stuck training in a health club, try your best to turn away from any mirrors. Watching yourself removes your focus from the task at hand, impacting your squat groove. If this is impossible to do (because of the position of the racks), one little tip that may help is hanging yoga mats on the mirror to prevent any mirror gazing while lifting.

Keep your elbows down and your lats locked in.

 I’ve seen this all over YouTube with so-called experts with zero back tightness trying to teach a squat. Locking in your back is one of the most important things you can do for power and safety. Remember, the last runs approximately from the back of the arm to your hip. Don’t underestimate its influence on a big squat. The tighter your back is, the stronger and SAFER you will squat.

Wear skateboard shoes, Chuck Taylors, or an excellent flat sole shoe, NOT your running shoes.

Have something that stable and complex and not going to have you swimming around as you’re trying to squat a significant weight. A running shoe is a terrible choice for stability while lifting. I suggest simple Van’s or Chucks, or any skateboarding shoe. Much better than a running style or cross-training style. 

Do not squat heavy every week.

There is a good chance your body will break down, or progress will reverse. In all likelihood, it will happen sooner than later. Have a plan where you have timed deloads and breaks from the heavy squat sessions. This isn’t a race, and it’s a project. As I suggest in 10/20/Life, every three weeks is a good start, and go from there.

I had to learn the hard way about pushing too hard. Not only in the squat, but in all of the lifts. You can read about my story here in Gift of Injury and the many mistakes I made. Also, for those that are stuck and need programming help, or for those who want to take the thinking out of the process, book a virtual consult with Brian. 

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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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