Here are some notes from the squat seminar we had here at RPTS a month ago.
Warm ups: These are a combination of active and direct warm ups. Active can be cardio, rolling etc. Direct warm ups are done with the actual lift itself. Never tire yourself out during warm ups and always use this as assessment time to see how you are feeling. If things feel heavy maybe go lighter. Seems like common sense but too many times people are married to the idea of the set numbers. Flexibility in programming is a precursor to long term success and longevity.
Set up: Bar placement, bracing and the walkout are all part of the set up not excluding feet spacing as well. Bar placement is the foundation to you success in the squat. So long as the bar is stable and works with your mechanics that is what matters whether low, middle or high bar placement. Keep the humerus pulled in tight to keep the upper back engaged along with the rear delts. This will keep you from rounding as much when in trouble. Bracing is just learning to take in air in the stomach and lungs and holding to support the spine to a higher degree than the belt alone. The idea is to push into your belt while sort of crunching down. Brace when lifting the bar off the rack and before you start your squat. Walkouts need no explanation beyond what we discussed but please practice them.
Environment: Be aware of your surroundings particularly in a mainstream facility. Never be afraid to approach people to give you space. Safety is paramount.
Foot placement: This is partly comfort based but also based on the bar placement and the shoes you wear. Be aware how these variables impact you as a lifter. A close stance in heels with a high bar is prone to balance issues for example.
Bar placement: Already mentioned but learn and understand why you use the bar the way you do. Understand which placement is best for your mechanics. This is always going to be something that is individual. Be willing to experiment.
Depth: If not competing find a comfortable range of motion period. If competing learn to lift every time like on the platform which includes depth on every rep. Know what is good by feel not others telling you. The ping effect of the lifter hearing creates tentativeness and is very robotic. The first sign of an unprepared lifter is bombing out of a meet for depth.
Mobility: Your feet, bar ride and depth are all factors of mobility. Heels can come up because of high bar position pitching the lifter forward as can tight achilles and hips. When squatting your descent is based on bending at the hips first. Lifters than bend at the waist often get stuck being pitched forward and can even “lean into parallel” which is a crap shoot for white lights.
Bar Path: Sitting back is incorrect. Drop. Drop it like its hot. Whatever helps you to understand. Raw lifters drop but we do stick our butts out. The bar should really travel in a straight line up and down. Try some of the apps around to see the difference of a box squat and a regular squat. Perfect practice makes perfect so consider box squats as a secondary or assistance exercise at best.
Getting out of the hole: Squat, pause squats, low box squats, high bar close stance, front squats, safety bar squats
If you are struggling with exercise creativity here are a few to add to your training programming.
Supplemental lifts for the squat: Pause squat, Pin squat, Front Box Squat, Slow Squat, Front Squat, Wide Front Squat, Anderson Front Squat, Safety Bar Squats, Manta/High Bar Squats
Developmental lifts for the squat: Wall Squats, Zercher Lunge, Front Lunge, Hack Lunge, Duck Foot Squat, Negative Squat, Belt Squat, Lockouts, Squat with Chains, Leg Press, Leg Extension, Ham Curls, Squat Jumps, Depth Jumps, Box Jumps, Calf Raises, Hyperextensions/Weighted in various ways, Seated GM, Reverse Hypers, ABS ABS ABS