The squat could be argued as one of the more technical lifts there is. Sure, the bench and the deadlift require a great deal of technique to be uber strong at, but it’s pretty easy to muscle up a deadlift, right?
The majority of people I work with (or videos I critique, or meets I watch) could ALL benefit from a few technical pointers that would instantly put 20 pounds on their squat. Instead of listing them all here, I want to start from the beginning: unracking and walking the weight out.
Setting up under the bar
When setting up, start with the feet slightly narrower than width you plan to squat with. This will give you a solid base without having to take big steps sideways when walking back. As you watch my video, you can see how I set the bar into my shoulders. I find that sweet spot on my back where the bar sits nice and everything feels solid. Shoulder blades are retracted, upper back and is tight and lower back is arched. Take a big breath before standing up with the weight. Again, notice that I stand up strong with the weight and my position remains the same.
Once the bar is set, you should take 2+ steps back. The first step should be back and slightly out. The second step will also be back and slightly out, but your goal is to get as close to your final setup with those two steps. The + is not for more steps, but rather for any tiny adjustments that you might need to make. You should be able to wiggle your feet for any small adjustments.
Once you have walked the weight back, go through your check list again. This check list will be very similar to your set up in the rack. Shoulder blades retracted, upper back tight, elbows cranked under (lats tight), and big breath.
Watch the video to see how the setup is the SAME every. single. time. Do not get in the habit of messing around with your warm-up weights with crappy form. Get in the habit of doing it right every time. It doesn’t matter whether you are a raw lifter, geared, or even if you don’t compete. The setup will be critical to each rep of your squat.
And remember: Treat your heavy weights light and your light weights heavy.