A big obstacle for many coaches, trainers, and athletes is attempting to improve the bottom of the squat, so you can maximize your ascent and lift more weight to ultimately become more athletic in the process.
Due to biomechanical factors, more often than not the area or phase of the squat where athletes fail is indeed the bottom of the movement when you are attempting to reverse motion and return back to an upright starting position.
So it’s only fair to dedicate a quick article that briefly outlines some very effective strategies you can implement into your training today to help cure the bottom of your squat and raise your numbers up as much and as fast as possible. Here is the list of selected topics we will discuss:
#1-DYNAMIC EFFORT WORK or SQUATS W/ CONTRAST:
A very evidence-based and time-honored way to increase your strength at the bottom of your squat when you have poorer leverages and a lot of other issues to tackle simultaneously is to focus on building more speed. More speed equates to more force potential during the rep and more weight lifted. It’s that simple.
You may have heard of the CAT training principle and others that reinforce this training theory, and it definitely works. There are quick apps you can buy to assess velocity measures, or you can quantify them to a degree through visual performance feedback and feel. Bands load the body and apply resistance much quicker than standard weight alone, so you automatically express speed and power faster.
#2-PAUSED SQUATTING PRACTICE
Paused squats are a guaranteed way to rule out any reactive strength or rebounding that is derived from the stretch-shortening cycle or stretch reflex. Although I just mentioned that speed is great, you also need to be able to access more strength and generate force from a dead or still position. Hex bar deadlifts, paused squats, and any other isometric-based scenario will demand you to build greater starting strength at the bottom of your squat and target that specific position or series of joint angles which makes it very specific to your training goal in this case.
Sub-parallel squats are a very useful psychological tactic that also provides some physical benefits to your functional anatomy as well. Obviously descending lower than you normally would be going to be much harder, and has been shown to provide a positive and less daunting perception when you return to normal parallel ranges of motion.
Not to mention you can tap into your glute strength a little more, apply more potential muscle growth in your legs due to increased muscle damage and time under tension (TUT), and may improve some bounce and reflexive contribution from your elastic muscle and tendons as well.
You are only as strong as your weakest link and the harsh truth is that all areas of your core will be exposed and challenged to the maximum when you are face to face with the bottom of a squat.
The only way to climb out of the depths of the movement is to possess more levels of core stability and stiffness through your spine by way of what’s called IAP (Intra-abdominal pressure) levels and earn your body’s trust. There is a whole training category dedicated to this function, but the more pressure you can muster through proper breathing patterns, conscious focus on tightness, mental and physical preparation strategies, and much more the better.