How to Squat for Strength and Powerlifting

Apr 28, 2023

Squatting is one of the foundational movements of strength training, and it's essential to get the techqniue right if you want to build strength and improve performance. There are two big rocks for squat techqniue and performance that you should be focussing on. Once these big rocks are in place, the squat becomes quite easy to improve.

Big Rock 1: The stack

The first big rock we'll examine is the relationship between the rib cage and the pelvis. Many people who come in for technique sessions struggle with controlling this relationship, often favouring an extension bias where the lower back is arched and the pelvis is rolled forward in anterior pelvic tilt. This means that they begin with extension, causing them to jam up at the front of the hips when they start to squat. As a result, their lower back takes over during the up phase, and they struggle to hit depth.

The stack refers to the ribcage being stacked directly over the pelvis. This position improves bracing and intra-abdominal pressure, which is critical when squatting, as it helps to lock in position and lift greater absolute loads. By stacking the rib cage and pelvis the diaphragm is better positioned to push down into the abdominal cavity down and create intra-abdominal pressure. This increased intra-abdominal pressure makes for a more rigid trunk and heavier loads to be lifted.

We like to teach people to 'close the scissors' with an exhale which brings the ribs down.

In order to learn how to stack the rib cage and pelvis for deadlift we would recommend using a 90/90 Hip Lift and Plank w/ Full Exhale.

Big Rock 2: Mid foot pressure

The second big rock we'll discuss is what's happening at the feet. As your feet are in contact with the ground throughout the entire squat, it's crucial to pay attention to what they're feeling and the feedback they're getting from the ground. One common mistake that lifters make is over-cuing "heels", in order to feel pressure build under the heel. This pressure is actually a reflection of where the center of mass is positioned. If you feel your heels in the squat, the mass is shifted back, if you feel the balls of your feet, the mass is forward. Pay attention to where the pressure in your feet is. As you move down into the squat, any movement of the barbell can affect the center of mass of the system. Your goal should be to maintain mid-foot pressure, which is pressure above the middle of your foot, between the heel and the toes.

By feeling pressure in the middle of your foot it means the systems center of mass is balanced. Too far back in the heels and your only option is for the bar to shift forward, too much pressure in the front of the foot and you risk the bar shifting backwards. mid foot pressure provides balance of the systems mass for optimal squat technique and performance.

To improve your squat technique and performance, there are two big rocks to focus on. The first is the relationship between the rib cage and pelvis, known as "the stack". Keeping these aligned improves bracing and intra-abdominal pressure, which is crucial for squatting heavy loads. The second big rock is maintaining mid-foot pressure throughout the squat. This ensures that the system's center of mass is balanced and the bar stays in the correct position. By paying attention to these two big rocks, you can build strength and improve your performance with the squat.

Are you looking to take your training to the next level?

Do have a specific goal you would love to achieve?

We can help build an actionable plan for you to succeed! 

Click Here To Learn More About Our Coaching