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Squat: How to improve

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Apr 18, 2017 10:01:00 AM


Barbell squat example

Squat: How to improve

These are more general points on how to improve on your squat. If you want a very specific example of a program please refer to my review of the smolov squat routine. If you have any questions or additional information please post them in the comments.

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Improving the barbell squat is hard and takes years. If you are one of the people who start in their teenage years to take the squat serious you have a head start. This is usually where you progress the quickest. Even if you start early at some stageyou will stall. One of the most important things to progress on the squat is to keep going to the gym on a regular basis. This might seem trivial to you but more often than not other things in your life start taking priority. The new girlfriend when you are a teenager, your wife and kids when you are older. Your job and the business trips which come with it. If you want to improve your squat work at it consistently. Put some time in your calendar and defend it.

In addition, you should also stick to your program and be consistent with that. Stick with a program for at least three months and see the results rather than switching it every week because you get bored or feel in pain.

Weak points

Once you get the consistency bit right and picked a program to achieve your goals it is time to focus on your weak points. Once you have squatted for some time banging and clanging on the three main lifts, the squat, bench press and deadlift will not be enough anymore. Usually, the limiting factor becomes a weak spot in the execution of the movement. Two widespread hinderances are mobility, here especially ankle mobility, and the lower back. Two very good ways to keep your back squat progressing for years is to pay attention to your ankle and hip mobility with regular stretching and building additional lower back strength. I personally use morning yoga for the former and good mornings and back extensions for the latter.


There are two big challenges with doing everything yourself when it comes to the squat. First is that you can not see yourself and therefore hardly can give yourself real time feedback on the lift. Second is that you can only gather the experiences which apply to you. This is where a coach comes in. A coach has the experience of looking at multiple different people and having a bigger resource pool of athletes with whom he or she tried different things to make people stronger. Having a good coach is not a sign of weakness. It is smart.


Especially in their teenage years people waste a lot of time by not documenting what they are doing in the gym. With no documentation, it becomes very hard to track what works for you and what does not to become better. The things you want to keep track of are

  • Number of sets
  • Number of repetitions
  • Weight used
  • Overall tonnage 
  • How hard it felt to do the exercise
  • Weight
  • Biceps size
  • Forearm size
  • Thigh size
  • Calf size
  • Waist size
  • One repetition maximum
  • Two repetition maximum
  • three repetition maximum
  • Five repetition maximum
  • Ten repetition maximum

This helps you to always know whether you are trending towards becoming a stringer individual who improves their squat or not.


You can not expect the results of Hercules when you train like a mouse. If you train with the intensity of a soon to be forgotten choir boy do not be upset when your squat does not improve. Always push yourself into an area in which you feel slightly uncomfortable to get better. Theline between injury and growth is slim. Test your limits and get to know them well to then push beyond them. 


If you want your squat to improve than focus on your squat. I made the most gains on my squat from 140kg to 170kg when I was on the smolov routine. More squatting makes you squat better it is as simple as that. When you are doing bicep curls, sit-ups, deadlifts, bench presses, burpees and a 10k run on the weekend be not surprised that your squat will only increase ever so slightly. Maybe even not at all. If you really want to boost your squat, squat every day and be humbled.


To improve on the squat is about having a goal and focusing on it. Apart from consistency, I think the most overlooked part is to address your weaknesses and work on them. The rest will follow with years of training.

Further reading

Topics: Lift stronger, Squat