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Any Input to Bring My Squat Up?


After 1rm testing this week, I just barely hit 375 on a safety bar box squat after a failed attempt, yet I pulled a very solid 505 deadlift. I'm frankly sick of this discrepancy and thought it's time I come here for some feedback. I have a strong feeling that given my DL numbers I can bring my squats up substantially on sheer technique modifications.

The following are just some speed sets at 50%. What jumps out at me is how little speed I have right off the box. If I set the box up just 2 inches above parallel I could most definitely handle well into the 4s.

So I appreciate any critiques on my technique as well as what I can do to improve my bar speed. Though I am not a powerlifter, I do train at a powerlifting gym so all the typical equipment is available.


A 375 SSB squat isn't bad man. It is not the same as a straight bar, and can play differently against your leverages.

My best SSB Box Squat is 355, my best pull is 625. How's that for a discrepancy?


I did 392 x 5 yesterday on the yoke bar. In June I pulled 605. The ssb is just tougher. I estimate my max in the 450+ range in the ssb and my deadlift 625-650 now.


Yea man, the SSB is brutal. I am at least minus 100lbs when compared to a regualr straight bar squat.

Anyway, in your second video, you have a pretty significant shift to your left hip. Which tells me you have either had an injury to your right hip/knee, your right leg is longer, your hips are tight as shit, or all of the above. Do some banded hip distraction/traction (youtube hip mobility and mobilitywod) and get your hips opened up a little bit. That will make a huge difference.

Also, turn your feet in a little more. The arches of your feet, especially on your right foot, are collapsing. That shortens your posterior tibalis and pulls your knees in. This happens when the feet get turned out past 9-10 degrees. You seemed to have pretty good control of it on the first two but your right knee valgused (is that even a word?) hard as shit on the third rep.


first thing that comes to mind is to ditch that safety bar for a while


From what I'm seeing, your squat is too segmented of a movement. You are smooth till about 2-3 inches above the box, then you are releasing your eccentrically loaded glutes and hams and collapsing onto the box. Look at the start of your squat, it is a smooth controlled lower until just above the box, and then you release the tension.

But all that said, if you're hitting 375 on a safety bar, and you're pulling 505, thats not as big a discrepency as you might think.



Here's my heavy set from yesterday. I'm weighing 210 now btw. I can only shoot side views the way things are laid out.

On the first rep I blew out my boxers. Thought at first I tore a muscle. That's why I got a little off balance . I have no idea what my straight bar would be due to my shoulders. My current goal is a raw 500 with this bar at 200 or so bodyweight.


I'll second turning the feet in a little. And you do need to roll and stretch everything to do with your hips (maybe especially the adductors) and strengthen the glutes (they can never be strong enough). And arch the upperback really hard.


Well, this is why I speculated a technique issue. Last week was the first time I ever tried safety bar box squat and I hit a 1rm of 375. One month prior, the last time I worked up to a 1rm on straight bar box squat my top was 355.


I had arthroscopic surgery to my right knee last Christmas. My right leg is a little longer. I wouldn't say my hips are tight as shit, lol, but like everything they could always use work. I haven't been using wide stance for that long. One of the trainers at the gym is trying to push my form in that direction.

Feet in? And push out against the floor with the outside of my foot. The arches of my feet aren't collapsing, because I don't have arches...lol. My soles are flat as a pancake.


This was only my second time using.


Ok thanks. I was thinking some banded squats for awhile, just to force me to control the eccentric, since I'll get pinned to the box if I don't.


Here I am with the straight bar. I was going for a 3rm max this day and couldn't even manage 3@345 with the straight bar. This was just a week before I hit 375 with the safety bar.


Jesus. You might want to look into getting some arch supports for when you lift. Your knees shouldnt cave at all. Turning your feet in some will help even though your arches are non existant.


He should. I'm not big on pushing them but for someone like him it would help. Many times when people talk about fixing these imbalances in leg length they over correct. If your short leg is due to a tight ql on that side you just reinforce the problem if you attempt to correct that side .

Bilaterl flat feet are an issue that needs to be addressed .


A few tips that might help.

  1. Squat deeper. I am also pretty weak off the box and off the floor in the deadlift. I feel that squatting deeper and pulling from a deficit helped me. Be careful with the knee on this though.

  2. Quad/Hamstring work. You are plopping on the box and you are barely sitting back. My leverages are probably different than yours, but I can sit back until my shins are completely parallel without plopping. Quads, because I feel a whole hell of a lot stronger in the squat when my quads are stronger.

  3. Technique. The plopping could also be technique. The fact that it took you 10,000 steps to even get set up shows me that you could use work in this area.

  4. Volume. Squat, squat, and squat some more. Squat deep. Some good advice I heard was to take a look at your loading patterns when working up. Do you only make jumps with plates and quarters? Taking smaller jumps at heavier weights could add the volume you need.

A few other things I feel I should throw in just in case you want to listen. I personally feel that box squatting doesn't help my raw squat at all. I get a whole lot better at box squatting, but as soon as I start free squatting I feel like I wasted my time. I feel that box squats can be good for speed work and working the posterior chain when sitting far back and going below parallel, but as far as strengthening the squat I think it is a waste. I personally think that a lot of people that box squat also use gear and have a tendency to neglect training the quads. I attribute my stalled squat to this way of thinking.

I'm certainly not the strongest person in these forums and others may have conflicting opinions but this is my 2 cents.


You have very good points there. It mimics my experiences.


Unfortunately, squatting deeper is not an option yet. Last christmas I had knee surgery on my right knee. I have been able to take my front squats deeper though due to the front loading and the lighter overall load. I will look to slowly hitting more depth in my training future though.

I actually just started incorporating GHRs. As far as quads, I'm still a little limited as excess knee flexion is a no go. I have recently found dragging a sled with a shit ton of weight for short distances backwards has been destroying my quads though without destroying my knees. I'll usually get down in a narrow squat to parallel before I start walking backwards.

If you have additional suggestions I'm all ears. Unfortunately, I've only been at those two for about 2-3 weeks and can't really assess their effectiveness yet.

Noted. It looks like I need to work on eccentric control? What do you think of adding some variable resistance like bands or chains?

Again, at this point my volume is limited by what I can handle for the day and my ideal frequency for giving my knee a chance to still recover is once every 4 days. One of those days I back squat, the other front squat.

I'll usually make jumps in increments that are about 10% of my intended top weight for the day. So if I want to work up to 315 I'll make like 30lb jumps.

Well, I feel exactly the same way. I don't see how in the hell it's going to carry over to my free squat, but one of the trainers at my gym is insisting I stick with box squats until I drill in the technique...and this is a guy who coaches elite lifters (like 1000+ squatters). But like you said, these guys are all geared.

I don't see how box squat will help me in the hole on a free squat considering whenever I fail on a free squat, it's because I'm falling backwards...not forwards!

I don't worry about such things as long as you know what you're talking about =)


As far as strengthening goes, deep front and back squats, safety bar squats, and lunges should do it for quads, but like you said you had trouble with too much knee flexion so be careful. Just do what you can. For hamstrings, I GHRs are great, as are good mornings with the safety bar and straight bar.

Because of your knee you could use chains, but I would probably stay away from bands until you are fully healed. Bands (not reverse bands) will pull you down faster than the speed of gravity causing a greater stretch reflex and working reversal strength. Personally I only like to use bands with box squats because of the groove it throws you into. You really don't need chains for bands so I would use them sparingly. These tools are much better for training geared lifts in my opinion.

As far as eccentric control goes, chains won't really do much, and bands will just slam you into the box even harder. The only way to fix this is to get the right areas stronger and work on staying tight the whole time. Perhaps practicing with lighter weights and gradually adding more as you get stronger?

Note: Sometimes geared lifters will plop on purpose when free squatting to get more stretch out of the gear. DO NOT DO THIS RAW! All you will do is lose tightness and make it harder to get up.

Volume I would play by ear. If I don't feel too great I may just work up to heavy 5s with moderate jumps, other times I may work up to 3s, and if I feel good I may go for a single or double. The other way to get volume is through assistance work. This is a very individual subject so you will have to experiment to see what helps you and what you can do with your injury.

Again, for raw squatting I think free squats are the way to go unless you are trying to work speed or target the posterior chain. With gear you sit back far to push against the fabric so you can get pop out of the bottom. This is doable because the gear will literally stop you in the hole and keep you from falling backwards a lot of the time. If you sit too far back in a free squat there is no gear or box to catch you so you will fall on your ass. (If you aren't sitting that far back, but still feel like you are falling it could be balance, or you could just be weak as shit in the wrong places.) I think a large problem with box squats these days is people constantly screaming "SIT BACK" but a lot of people don't fully understand and sit WAY too far back.

Simply put...

If you are training for squat with gear:
1. Train with a box
2. Sit back until your shins are close to perpendicular with the floor.
3. Free squat closer to a meet to learn the movement and learn where parallel is.

If you are training for raw squats:
1. Free squat more often
2. Don't sit back so far (Find me a raw squatter that doesn't have some forward movement of the knee)
3. Limit box squats to speed work and days when your knees are bugging you.

Another important thing to stress again is SQUAT BELOW PARALLEL! Regardless of whether or not you are free squatting or squatting to a box, ALWAYS GO BELOW PARALLEL!

I hope this could help. Sorry my posts are so long winded.


^Cool. My thinking was that chains would be perfect for me right now, since it deloads the bottom portion of the lift, where I'm most weak and my knee is at highest flexion. Overloading the top half of the squat I thought would be good for me to get used to having more weight on my back and packing some more meat on my legs than if I let my strength out of the hole be my limiting factor.

Does this sound reasonable? As I mentioned at the end of my OP, I'm actually not a powerlifter or intending to compete. My primary goal is packing on mass right now and my secondary goal is developing some speed.