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Resistance Training

How to Get Stronger in Your Squat

By Joe Talarico on May 22, 2024 9:00:00 AM
5 Minutes Reading Time

No matter where you are on your lifting journey, at some point you should be doing the big compound lifts. One of those involves squatting. It can take quite some time to squat before you switch it out. Even if you plateau, there are a series of tips and tricks you can implement to keep getting stronger before swapping it out with another exercise.


There is a lot that can go into performing the perfect squat. Your foot placement, proper posture, hip mobility, scapular retraction, and more. A common way to practice technique is to squat more often. This can look like 3 days a week, but all spent focusing on something different. Maybe day one you are focusing on intensity. Day two can be spent focusing on technique by using much lighter weight (50%), slowing the pace down and practicing proper foot and hip position. The third day can be spent doing more explosive work, or higher volume work to build your power or stamina.

Change Up the Training Style

There are several methods you can use to change up the style with which you train squats.

Tempo - You can increase or decrease the time spent during the concentric, eccentric, or pause at the bottom.

  • Concentric is when you are coming back up to standing position. You can play around with longer and slower concentric time coming up. Shorter times will focus on lowering the weight and being as explosive as you can while maintaining proper form.
  • Eccentric is lowering the weight down to the bottom position. You can implement a 3-4 second lowering period where you are controlling the weight while bringing the weight down, making sure your quads are taking on the tension for optimizing muscle growth.
  • Pauses allow you to practice getting comfortable in the hardest part of the lift. By taking a 2-3 second pause you can learn to come out of the bottom position stronger. It also allows you to work on opening up your hips and achieving proper depth. Again, this may require lowering the weight.

Mobility Work

As mentioned before, you want to make sure your hips are mobile. The same goes for ankles. Achieving proper squat depth involves getting to the bottom position by opening up your hips, and having enough range in the ankles to get to the bottom without your heels coming up. If you find you are weak in either area, consider including some priming work to help practice gaining some range of motion back in one or both areas.

Eating Enough Food

If your goal is to get stronger at the squat, you can have all the proper technique in the world, but the weight won’t go up if you aren’t eating enough to grow. This means eating at least 1 gram of protein per pound of your lean body mass to ensure your muscles are getting enough fuel to recover. You may also want to consider eating a higher amount of carbohydrates to give you a source of energy for your squat days. Eating carbs also pulls in water, which can help support and cushion the joints. You’d be surprised how many people’s squats don’t go up simply because they aren’t tracking how much food they are eating and the quality of that food.

Advanced Training

After you’ve tried all these methods, and you’ve gotten your squat pretty high, it may be time to try more advanced techniques. 

Chains - Using chains allows you to make parts of the lift more difficult. Typically, chains will make exploding through the top a lot more difficult, when traditionally that is the easier part of the lift. It helps you practice follow through with the movement.

Bands – You can also hang bands from the top of a squat rack, and use them to add more resistance to the movement. Bands can also be applied to the bottom of the rack to make the other part of the movement tougher.

How to Squat Like a Pro | Mind Pump

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Joe Talarico

Joe is a certified Precision Nutrition and strength & conditioning coach. He assisted the UCLA Women’s Tennis team in winning their 2014 NCAA Championship Title, as well as study under the great strength coaches at Pepperdine University. He was a collegiate rower at the University of Rhode Island (where he got his Kinesiology degree) as well as an amateur physique competitor. He is currently the master trainer at Upgrade Labs in Santa Monica where he is combining his years of training clients in the gym with newer technology to optimize their performance and recovery. He also cohosts The RelationSH*T Show Podcast with his fiancée where they discuss all relationship topics unfiltered from who pays on dates, to open relationships.

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