The Squat Walkout

By Paul Oneid & Lisa Guggisberg

There is a lot of information out there about how to squat correctly, how to build a bigger squat etc., but what a lot of people tend to overlook is arguably the most important part of a squat – the set up and walk out. You can’t squat big weights if you can’t get the bar out of the rack and into position safely and efficiently.  Most people think the walkout is the least technical part of the squat.  This could not be farther from the truth.  The way you unrack the bar and walk it out WILL make, or break the lift.  How do approach the bar?  How do you prepare yourself to nail that PR lift?  More than likely, you don’t take as much care as you should and you’re leaving pounds on the platform, instead of the bar.


The Set Up

If you’re a raw lifter, more than likely you are walking out your squat.  Brian Carroll and Jason Pegg have previously discussed the monolift unrack here.  Setting up under a mono and walking out are very similar, with a few key differences; the height of the barbell and the placement of the feet.  For a walked out squat, the barbell will be slightly higher than a monolift, ideally around the upper chest/clavicle.  The feet will be set parallel to one another, directly underneath the barbell and slightly narrower than your squat stance.  This will give you more strength to push directly up into the bar.  In both scenarios, you must approach the bar with purpose, while going over your mental checklist. Set your hands in the right position (will vary for each individual lifter), grip the bar while thinking white knuckles and bend the bar.   With your lats pulling down hard, lock them in and wedge yourself under the bar. Your body should be lined up straight underneath the barbell. Tighten yourself, pushing straight up into the bar, grip the floor with your feet drive through your heels. Look slightly up with your head tall, take a deep breath, brace the core and stand the bar up out of the rack.  Do not relax and let your air out.

The Walkout

After you have taken the bar out of the rack and are standing tall, remain as tight as possible, lock your quads, push against your belt and keep your lats locked it.  Your steps should be deliberate and controlled.  Do not waste any energy.  Ideally, you should take 2 steps in your walkout, with a 3rd needed only for a readjustment.  Taking more steps than this is a waste of time and energy.  Once the bar is on your back the clock starts.  The longer you take to walk out, or the more distance you travel, the more time you are under load.  You need just enough clearance from the rack to squat, so practice accordingly.  The first step should be back and slightly out.  The second should follow suit.  In a perfect world, you are now in your squat stance.  Take a moment and feel where you are.  If you need a 3rd step to adjust your feet, do so. It should be noted that some lifters will look down, but this is not ideal because you’ll lose a lot of tightness, keep your head up.  If you feel the need to look down to check your foot placement, practice walking out with an empty bar and work on setting your feet without looking down.  Once your feet are set, you may release your air, but not fully.  Stay tight!

The Reset

Your feet are set and you have released your air slightly, while staying tight.  This is not a full breath, just enough to re-breath and not pass out.  Some lifters can get away with no breathing from the unrack, but for the sake of this article, we will assume you aren’t one of those people.  You can read more about how to properly breath and brace for a lift here.  By this time, you should have received the start command from the head judge.  Take a few small breaths, gather yourself and take your big air.  With this breath, you brace the midsection as hard as possible, reset your wedge tight, pull the head tall and squeeze the glutes and quads.  Grip the floor with your feet and root yourself in.  Now you are loaded up to squat that PR.  Attack the bar with violent intent.

Key Take Aways

  • Approach the bar with a purpose
  • Bar placement and posture
  • Lifter’s wedge
  • Get tight and stay tight
  • Be deliberate and efficient with your movements
  • Reset and brace hard
  • Root yourself into the ground
  • Violent intent

Check out this video of Brian Carroll teaching the squat set up and walkout.

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