Boosting Your Back Squat


By Michael Schletter, CPT Men’s Fitness


The squat hits every muscle in the body in some way, shape or form, and is one of the moves that people use to measure strength. Squatting twice your bodyweight is considered a huge feat of strength, but those big number lifts don’t come overnight, and without practice.


The three most common snags or roadblocks that people face when trying to boost their squat are: weak glutes, weak hamstrings, and limited mobility. Here’s how to fix them.




When coming out of the bottom position of a squat and driving upward, some athletes experience an inward buckle of the knees. This condition is known as valgus collapse and it’s an indication of weak glutes. If not corrected early on, injuries can occur such as tears in the ACL, PCL, and most commonly the meniscus, meaning long-term recovery from surgery.


How to Fix It


Incorporate barbell hip thrusts into your routine to directly target the glutes. Perform 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps on your leg or lower-body days.




Yes, squatting hits the quads hard, but when the weight gets heavy enough, the hamstrings and glutes become much more important muscles to activate properly. Weak hamstrings can leave you struggling while trying to come out of the hole, or bottom position.


How to Fix It


Romanian deadlifts will strengthen the hamstrings and teach the body the correct order in which to fire these muscles in order to improve squat technique. Shoot for 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps on your leg or lower-body days.




If your body is tight and stiff, it’s going to be challenging to move fluidly through a range of motion, forget even thinking about packing on significant weight.


How To Fix It


Foam rolling is a good option for loosening up tight areas, but dynamic mobility work is the most effective option. After a foam rolling areas including the shoulders, chest, mid-back, lower-back, hamstrings, and glutes, perform overhead squats to stretch, open up, and mobilize all the major parts of the body. Start with 1-2 sets of 10-12 reps with a PV pipe, progressively move to a barbell for 2-3 sets while increasing the weight with each set.



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