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9 Ways to Double the Effectiveness of Squats

Squats are one of the most effective lower body movements around! They engage every muscle in your legs--from your quads to your hamstrings and glutes even to your calves. This recruitment of so many muscles means your lower body gets a more complete workout, leading to faster strength gains.

If you want to make your squat workouts more effective, here are a few tips to try:

  • Strengthen the supporting muscles -- Your quads only do some of the work. Your hips, lower back, glutes, and hamstrings also help with the pushing motion. Spend time training these secondary muscles, and you'll have more strength and mobility when it comes time to squat.
  • Work singles -- One of the best ways to seriously increase your muscular strength is to work low reps with high weight. Squat with 90% of your 1-Rep Max, and perform 4 to 6 sets of single-squat sets with this very high load. You'll see strength gains a lot faster than you'd expect!
  • Train to failure -- Your leg muscles are capable of a lot more than you'd think! Don't stop squatting when you feel the burn, but train until failure--meaning total muscular fatigue. If you're not struggling to complete the last two sets of your squat workout, you're not working hard enough to see real results.
  • Throw in a jump -- Jumping helps to build explosive power, which will enhance your muscular strength. Jump squats, jump lunges, box jumps, and other exercises that involve a jumping motion will increase your endurance and explosiveness. Plus, they're a great cardio workout!
  • Squat faster -- Increasing your squat speed helps to increase your explosive strength, as well as works your eccentric strength. Do speed squats with lighter weight, and focus on controlling both the ascent and descent of the movement.
  • Change up the stance -- Regular squats aren't the only way to build leg strength, but there are MANY more! Sumo Squats help to work the hips, Box Squats develop power, and Olympic Lifts can help to enhance your explosive strength. The more variety of squats you do, the more well-rounded your lower body workout.
  • Go deep -- Deep squats can help to increase the stability of your knee and hip joints as well as increase muscular strength. You'll also enhance the flexibility of your knees and hips. The "ass to grass" style of squat will do wonders to make your lower body more mobile.
  • Train each part of the movement -- Some people struggle at the bottom end of the squat, while others get stuck in the middle. To make sure you are squatting as effectively as possible, perform exercises that train each part of the movement--low, middle, and the "lockout" (legs straight).
  • Squat more regularly -- The only way to build serious strength is to train the muscles regularly. If your squats are suffering, mix squats into your workouts no less than three times per week. Work with light weight if it helps you to clean up your form, but perform squats as often as you can.

Squats will help you to build serious lower body power, so follow the advice above to help you make your squats a whole lot more effective.

[Image via Getty]

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