Most avid gym-goers, even beginners, want to get better at the back squat. The back squat is an exercise that involves squatting with a barbell placed on the top of your back or across the lower portion of your trapezius muscles. Whether it’s bragging rights, getting quads of steel, or becoming an all-around stronger athlete, improving your back squat is an impressive and admirable goal that will translate into immeasurable fitness gains.
Here Are a Few Quick Tips to Improve Your Back Squat
- Engage your muscles: Tighten up your muscles, especially in your glutes, core and back, before you even start your squat. When you recruit the surrounding muscles, your ability to lift will significantly improve!
- Have a mantra or mental image: Want to take your back squat game to an entirely new level? Go into a lifting session with a positive affirmation or some type of visual image that gets you in the zone. Whether it’s an uplifting statement like “I am a warrior” or visualizing yourself competing for a gold medal in power-lifting, find your go-to psychological state, and you’ll be amazed at what you can lift as a result.
- Grip with intent: Grab the bar like you mean it before you squat. This initiates a contraction or tension throughout the muscles and sends a signal to your brain that you are confidently going to make the back squat successful.
- Check your stance: Stop dancing when you’re about to squat with weight on your back. Get your feet firmly planted, with most of your weight centered and in the heels. If performing a traditional back squat, make sure your feet are at least hip-width apart, and your toes are pointed directly ahead of you. Visualize and “feel” the ground as you prepare to squat, and continue using a firm foot-placement the entire time you’re performing the exercise.
- Squeeze your lats: Don’t put the bar on your vertebrae or begin resting it on your neck. Keep your shoulder blades retracted (or down and back), contract your lats, and place the bar firmly onto the musculature of your upper back. If you contract your lats, you’ll create a specific shelf or muscular rack on which to place the bar before you descend into the squat.
- Drive up: Once you slowly descend into the squat position, contract your lats, glutes and core, push up through your heels with a firm foot placement, and drive up in a vertical motion to the ceiling. Don’t just casually go through the motions to “hopefully” get back into a standing position. Keep your elbows under the bar with everything aligned and finish the squat powerfully by driving up with purpose.