Workout Tips

The 8 Best Ways to Improve Your Squat

Follow the Lift Doctor's workout prescription for improving training performance and results.

1. Work on Better Technique

Above all, you need to dial in your technique first. If you’re technique is poor, it makes no sense to start adding more weight and injuring yourself further. There are 3 very simple cues you need to always be thinking when you squat; chest up, hips back, and knees out. Most people squat straight down, instead of pushing their hips back into a hip hinge pattern while  driving their knees out, which forces them into a vertical and more quad-dominant squatting pattern. This type of squat requires great mobility at the upper back, hips and ankles and a strong core and upper back. If you don’t have all of these qualities and your movement is limited, you are more likely to fall forward when the weights gets heavier.

Two drills to help you keep your chest up, push your hips back and drive your knees out are wall squats (which will load your posterior chain to a greater extent) – where you face a wall with your feet about 6” away and squat down without hitting the wall, trying to go as deep as possible – or goblet squats – where you hold a dumbbell vertically on one end and squat down keeping your chest out and driving your knees outward – will teach you proper positioning during the conventional squat pattern. 

2. Try Different Bar Positions

Try different bar positions on your back.  If you have a higher bar position – right at the base of your neck – you will need to have good mobility in your upper back, hips, and ankles to be able to keep your torso vertical during the squat.  If you don’t have this mobility and you are weak, you will more than likely tip forward as you descend into the bottom of the squat.  It is simple physics. The longer the distance from your hips to the bar (high bar position = increased moment arm), the greater the torque at the hips.  If you have a lower bar position (around mid-trap) and slightly wider stance (slightly wider than shoulder width) – you will decrease the distance from the bar to your hips (shorter moment arm) and you will have better leverage. This might allow you to stay more vertical when you squat if you have good core stability and enough hip mobility. Play around with the bar position to find the one that works best for you.