Any advanced weightlifter can attest that a 60lb increase in strength is absurd and very uncommon, especially in a single training session. Yet, it happened. Eyes Straight Ahead
Elbows Pulled Inward
Elbows Under The Bar
Crush The Bar
Shoulder Blades Tight
Big Breath; Push The Belly Out
Stay On The Heels
Butt Moves Back, Stays Back
Keep The Knees Moving Back
Try To Keep The Shins Vertical
Knees Over The Toes
Spread The Floor
Push Out, Not Up
Bar Speed! Bar Speed! Bar Speed!
These are some of the most common squatting cues you would hear from just about any coach. In short butt back, chest up, and stay grounded.
Yes, these are great for a beginner, but what about the more advanced lifter who isn’t hitting big numbers? And what about the foot, ankle, and toes? What about the pressure points or torque?
Yes I know, knees out, butt back, spread the floor, I got that. But what exactly does that mean? Pronation, supanation, or neutral?
For most individuals, the cues above have lead to this type of movement
The heel contact was great but did you notice the toe box and instep of the foot? They move away from the ground.
This, my friends, is the common error left unattended to by most coaches.
You can’t jump high by driving your heels into the ground. Try it. Seriously, stand up drive your heels into the ground, pull the toes up slightly, bend through the hips and knees, and jump as high as you can.
Let’s back track for a second. Let me paint the background to this story real quick.
Over the past year and a half my squat was decent, 1 rep max at 305lb, deadlift at 405lb, bodyweight at 175. (BW X ~1.75 and BW X ~2.33)
Based on my bodyweight, a 350lb squat and 440lb deadlift would be appropriate. (BW X 2 and BW X 2.5)
These numbers also indicate and reveal my hip/ham dominance vs my hip/quad strength or lack there of.
“The squat is a quad exercise. Most people have forgotten that.” Jason Ferruggia
So what the heck has been holding back my gains?
Certainly not my training programs or nutrition, no way.
Stuff like this bothers me to no end. So much that I have a Rogue S2 squat rack in my bedroom, no joke, I take things like this seriously.
The good thing is that on Wednesday (November 6) it clicked; my horribly weak front squat went from 115lbs for 6 to a clean and deep 175lbs for 8,
That’s a 60lb gain incase you weren’t in the mood to do the math.
Any advanced weightlifter can attest that a 60lb increase in strength is absurd and very uncommon, especially in a single training session. Yet, it happened.
With just one single small movement that helped my quads fire up in effort to push the bar back up to a standing position.
Here’s what I did.
Instead of driving all of my weight into my heels, I simply redistributed my weight throughout my foot, ~70% through the ball of my foot with the remaining ~30% through the back half of my foot. I also made sure that my instep did not leave the ground, therefore increasing my ability to utilize my entire foot as a stable foundation of force.
In short, I adjusted the angle of my shin and pushed more through my forefoot.
Remember the video from above? The evaluated toe box and ankle roll? I redistributed the weight to ensure ground support, and then utilized the support.
Driving the majority of your weight through your heel simply reduces the amount of quad activation you can get through the dominant and strong quad muscles.
The quads push, the hamstrings pull, and the glute contracts in an effort to stabilize the pelvis.
Check out the differences between my old squat position compared to the new.
Old left, new right.
Here's what it looks like in motion. Watch the set up and execution.
Dedicated to your strength gains,
Comments Submitted by David on 12/21/13:
Very useful Carmen, followed the link from RIC and jay's tip -off in the weekly wrap. I was interested in the BW to lifting ratios you quoted and the dominance / muscle imbalances behind max load capabilities. Would love to here more of this stuff in the future.