There is no exercise that gives you the same total body benefits as a back squat. From strong and powerful legs to a sturdy and stable upper body, the back squat does it all.
If you’re ready to take your athleticism (and overall physique) to the next level, it’s time to push the throttle on this lower-body staple. By increasing your squat numbers, you’ll build more muscle and more strength, which translates to better speed, explosiveness, and endurance.
In this article, we’ll help you squat your best weight ever. First, we’ll start by fine-tuning your form; even if your squat is “decent” right now, enhancing your technique just a little morewill help you push more weight. (With better biomechanics, your body will more efficiently transfer energy.)
Second, we’ll give you a program to follow for the next month to take your squat to new heights.
By improving your squat technique, you can push more weight than before — sometimes as much as 10 or 20lbs.
This 3x/week program starts by building your foundational strength and ability to handle volume; then it transitions into pure gains. (Replace your current lower-body routine with this.)
You’ll use a technique called “eustress” training where you do many sets of only one rep while staying as relaxed and calm as possible — this trains your body to handle more and more volume without stressing yourself. You’ll also fix common weak links like asymmetrical leg strength or weak glutes.
FYI, I won’t make you do heavy back squats with every workout. (That’s a recipe for a sore low back, cranky joints, and boredom.) Instead, you’ll incorporate different, joint-friendly exercises to rest your body between back squat days.
Also, eat. This is NOT the time to go on a juice cleanse; this is the time to go on an all-you-can-eat buffet.
One final thing: Increase your weight on every exercise by 5lbs each time you workout. That’s how you make gains. And as the volume drops, you’ll see your numbers continue to rise.
(To compare before and after, estimate your current one-rep max with this calculator.)
A1) Back Squat: 30 x 1*
* Use a weight that feels heavy, but you can lift verysmoothly. 60% of your one-rep max is a good starting point. Do one picture-perfect repetition without grunting, slowing down, or struggling. Take as long of a break as you need.
A1) Barbell Hip Thrusts 5 x 5
A1) Bulgarian Split Squats 5 x 5 each leg
A1) Back squat: 40 x 1*
* This should be a weight that feels heavy, but you can lift very smoothly. No grinding, grimacing, grunting, or slowing down — just a comfortable weight where you can do picture-perfect reps.
A1) Barbell Hip Thrusts 8 x 5
A1) Bulgarian Split Squats 8 x 5 each leg
A1) Back squat: 5 x 5
A1) Bulgarian Split Squats 8 x 3 each leg
A1) Back Squat: 8 x 3
A1) Back Squat: 5 x 3
A1) Barbell Jump Squat: 5 x 3 (use 30%of your normal weight and jump as high as you can)
A1) Back Squat: 3 x 1
Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS, is a fitness expert at Esquire, GQ, and Men’s Health and the founder of Unlock Your Fitness .
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