Sunday, January 26, 2014

Powerlifting 101: How to Improve Your Squat

Powerlifting 101:


How to Improve Your Squat


How can I improve my squat? I hear this question frequently at the gym from aspiring powerlifters and rightfully so. It’s an excellent question. Let me answer this as directly as I know how. If you want to improve your Squat….you need to squat! (For that matter if you want to improve your Deadlift you need to squat. But that is another subject for another time.)

Not to be redundant, but squatting and more squatting is the answer if you want to build a powerful squat. I know this seems simplistic but it’s the truth. There is no exercise that can duplicate the strengthening effect on the complete posterior chain (particularly regarding hip extension) more than the squat. This fact I think would be undisputed by most accomplished squatters and strength coaches. You wouldn’t know it by watching lifters train. More often than not I see powerlifters spending an excessive amount of time doing other exercises that they think will improve their squat numbers. In my opinion your squat potential will never be realized by doing leg presses, hack squats, leg curls, leg extensions etc.

In most cases, barbell exercises are far more effective than machines.


Here are two reasons why machines are not the answer.

  1. When using machines all movement is restricted by the machine design.
  2. Muscles are isolated and forced to function separately.

There are many more convoluted reasons including balance issues why machines are not beneficial but these two are enough for now.


It is not uncommon to see lifters improve certain muscle groups while failing to improve others because they train on machines. Obviously this can become problematic for powerlifters when trying to develop an all inclusive full body movement such as the squat.


Barbell exercises such as the back squat allow all body parts to work in unison in natural movement patterns. This can not be duplicated by using a machine.


Powerlifting 101 articles are focused on primary fundamentals of powerlifting and are designed to help novice lifters. For more Powerlifting 101 articles visit

Please contact us with your comments and/or questions.


Keith Payne CPT, YFS


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