Improving your squat strength

If you’re looking to increase your squat strength then progressive overload can only get you so far. Eventually you will hit sticking points and when this does happen it’s good to have some squat variations in your arsenal to turn to to blast through those plateaus and increase your squat strength. Whether you’re looking to be a competitive powerlifter or just bring up your wheels so you don’t look like ball of muscle on stalks.

1. Box squats

The box squat allows you to squat to desired depth and develop explosive strength in the squat movement. Begin in a power rack with a box at the appropriate height behind you. Typically, you would aim for a box height that brings you to a parallel squat, but you can train higher or lower if desired.

Begin by stepping under the bar and placing it across the back of the shoulders. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and rotate your elbows forward, attempting to bend the bar across your shoulders. Remove the bar from the rack, creating a tight arch in your lower back, and step back into position. Place your feet wider for more emphasis on the back, glutes, adductors, and hamstrings, or closer together for more quad development. Keep your head facing forward.

With your back, shoulders, and core tight, push your knees and butt out and you begin your descent. Sit back with your hips until you are seated on the box. Ideally, your shins should be perpendicular to the ground. Pause when you reach the box, and relax the hip flexors. Never bounce off of a box.

Keeping the weight on your heels and pushing your feet and knees out, drive upward off of the box as you lead the movement with your head. Continue upward, maintaining tightness head to toe.

2. Anderson squats

The Anderson Squat offers lifters a unique solution to poor starting strength (concentric), positional weaknesses, and stubborn sticking points in the squat.

By starting from a dead stop at the bottom of the lift (or at the bottom of a certain height), the strength-shortening cycle is minimized, resulting in:

Improves the rate of force development

Increases awareness and allows lifter to feel what a “correct” repetition is

Enhanced tension development and maintenance throughout entirety of lift

Regardless of the sport, most strength, power, and fitness athletes can benefit from including Anderson Squats into their current assistance training program.

To perform an Anderson Squat:

Set the safety support height based on the squat depth you want. Place a loaded weight bar on the safety supports themselves. From there you will get into a squat position under the bar and stand up completing the concentric (positive) portion of the rep. Then lower the weight back down and place onto the supports to complete the eccentric (negative) part of the rep.

3. 1 ½ Rep squats:

Basically you take an exercise and “extend” the set by incorporating a “1/2 rep” in between full-ROM reps.
The idea serves a few purposes/benefits:

Increased Time Under Tension.

Can be used to address a technique flaw/weakness (which should be the main objective of accessory work anyways).

Awesome alternative to use as a finisher at the end of a workout. They also serve as a nice way to increase total work done in any given session.

Be sure to include the half rep at the bottom of your squat below 90 degrees not at the top end of your squat.

Koben Moore
Team ASF