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Boosting squat performance

I read a brief article on Adam Archuletta recently that highlighted a weakness in my physique. Specifically, power-generation.

Let me rephrase.

I can’t squat worth a damn and it’s starting to bother me. I’m 6’1", 180 lbs, length slightly skewed toward my legs. I squat something like 215 lbs, which is 60 lbs less than my bench and about 175 lbs less than my deadlift.

My form is a rough approximation of BB-style. Feet just wider than shoulder-width, toes 30 degrees out, back arched throughout.

It’s been some time since I’ve had a truly decent squat workout. Until recently, I worked legs once a week with roughly 8 sets of ass-to-grass squats, starting at 12 reps and pyramiding up to as much weight as I could take for 6.

I was a distance runner for years prior to and during lifting, and the speed at which I perform the concentric portion of the lift seems to reflect it. When I stall out, it’s always at parallel. When the set concludes, it’s always because of muscle failure, but never pain. I simply can’t lift the weight. I feel like I ought to be able to lift it, but something just doesn’t fire and it stalls.

So, in short I ask:

How can I learn to fire what I have? How can I boost the concentric speed of a given lift? What ancillary exercises should I be performing?

Much thanks,


What are your goals? Are you training for pure power? If that’s the case, then your squatting style needs to be changed up pronto. Peruse any of the three Westside threads running on the T/N board and you’ll start to see a pattern. In addition, it seems evident that your weakness is in the glutes.

Try box squatting ala Westside. No, you don’t have to completely switch over to a powerlifting style workout but if you start squatting off a box as per the prescribed set/rep/weight scheme for westside dynamic effort squat day, your going to develop speed from the bottom of the squat.

Check this out:

Oh yeah, jared’s got the link for you.

I’m much in your same boat KnightRT, albeit with slightly different bw and poundages.

Box squats have helped greatly in my poundages, I used to be slow as hell coming out of the bottom with say my 5x5 weight, now I can make the bar jump with that and it’s a piece of cake.


You suffer from long leg disease. Welcome to the club. While I am only 5’ 10" (compared to your 6’ 1") I too have this problem. Relativily long legs compared to my upper torso.

Longer legged people are less comfortable setting back with a loaded barbell on their back. It has to do with balance and a certain comfort level.

Here is what I did: I started getting comfortable going down all the way, rock bottom squat. I did this with very little weight, and with feet only about 12" to 18" apart. What was I doing? Getting used to squating in the most difficult stance while going as low as possible! I did 6 sets of this three days per week for about 3 months.

I did not gain a lot of size or strength. What I did gain was something that all people with long legs need, “balance” and confidence dropping into the squat!

After this period I went back to conventional squatting and it was so much easier for me the gains came rapidly. While I am still far from what I would call great in this exercise I can now full squat double body weight (380lb.).

Never give up! You can make your weakest point into one of your strongest with determination and the right formula- GOOD LUCK!

Box squatting it is, then. I’m unfamiliar with Westside methods; time to surf the back issues again. And perhaps EliteFTS.


I’m less enamored with size than power for now. When I break 300, I’ll reevaluate.


You pinpointed another problem: instability in the bottom range, particularly toward the end of a set. I’ll try what you suggested, as depressing as it may be for poundage.

Again, much thanks to all for the advice,


Bro it hink you just need to suck it up and squat…
Benching more than you squat is a fineable offence in some countries (ok thats i lie, but it should be).
Sure, start the Westside protocol but give some balls, dont go half assed about it.


Nothing you’ve said in this forum allows you the grounds for such arrogance.

Please stop wasting my time.


Glenn Pendlay said -

personally, if your training for power in the legs, which as a footballer you should be, id say you need to squat at least twice a week… once heavy and once fast is a good idea, a really tried and proven technique for power gains. also, simplifying your leg routine all the way down to just squats and glute-ham raises (or simply back raises if you dont have a glute-hem machine) would probably be smart.

getting stronger legs isnt rocket science… but it requires you do a few things really hard and consistently. squat deep, and put a lot of effort into it, really bust your ass. work hard on the posterior chain, preferably with a glute-ham machine. back raises or stiff leg deadlifts will work also, but in my opinion they are a second choice. eat a lot of good food. get plenty of rest. cut back on the other stuff your doing. sounds too simple, but it works.

i have several high school lifters squatting olympic style, thats ass to ankles, no belt, no knee wraps, with over 600lbs, weighing under 200lbs, they have never done any leg exercise except for front and back squats, glute-ham raises and back raises. the occasional romanian deadlift has been thrown in, but only to teach proper back position, not really as a strength exercise. i think this shows at the very least that all the extras arent really neccessary for developing leg strength.

as a football related sidenote, one of the kids i used to train just finished his first year playing football at a division 1 school, at 180lbs he broke most of their strength records as a freshman. he started and played as a true freshman, including one game on national television and a bowl game.

as a high school senior he squatted 585 for a double in the full squat weighing 180lbs, and by full squat i mean ALL the way down, this was without a belt. he also cleaned 330, and front squatted over 500lbs. as a college freshman, he has the highest squat and clean on the team, even though some of his teammates outweighed him by over 130lbs. he sent me a nice little video of him running right over a 300lb lineman from a team that was ranked in the top 5 nationally, he was carrying the ball and lowered his shoulder and put the guy flat on his back and stepped on his chest as he ran over him. nice little video, nice way to say thanks, i guess. this particular kid squatted 3 times a week for 4 years. never was able to gain a lot of weight, but you could see his abs through his t-shirt, kind of like batman or something.

Knight–good post, I’m in a similar situation as you. I stand 5’11" and just feel like the weight is pressing down on me. I’m actually more comfortable in the front squat than the standard (I lift more weight with it on my back, but I’m more comfy the other way). When increasing my poundages becomes my priority, I’ll look into the Westside box squat techniques.

Whetu–you mean to tell me that you think we get under that bar with anything less than 100% intensity and focus on moving more than we’ve done before? C’mon man! I won’t say I have the biggest balls, but they’re there when I lift weights. Take a step down off that high horse…

great story CoolColJ. Unbelievable.


Interesting post.

For the first time, I’ve started to focus seriously on deadlifting. Thus I train heavy pressing, and then deadlift four to five days later. Four days after that, it’s back to pressing. My poor Gold’s Gym doesn’t have a GH raise that I’m aware of, though I can emulate the movement with cables.

Impressive numbers for a 180-pounder.


For the reasons you list, I dislike pressing movements right now. Deadlifting, however, is great fun.



eat me :slight_smile:

I box squatted 180kg (easy, but gave up there) yesterday, so its closer to my bench

and mah back didnt hurt :slight_smile:

but I basically benched 200, so that still is in front…

Doing Hyper Back extensions (single leg and normal) and Ham raises on the floor will do the trick nicely.