T Nation

How to Improve Squats?

I had been following Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength routine for about two weeks when I injured my hip, I believe it was because I rushed into deeps squats without preparation. I gave it a few weeks rest and it feels much better now, I have just started getting back into squatting with proper stretching beforehand, but I noticed my squat strength has decreased quite a bit.

I still trained upper body while taking time off squats without straying too far from the program outlined, Wednesday will be my day to get back into the starting strength routine.

I’m still a beginner but to give an idea my lifts at about 180lbs, I don’t know what my body-fat is but I’d guess 18%.

Deadlift: 1x5 - 255lb
Squat: 3x5 - 185lb
Bench: 3x5 - 165lb
Power Clean: 5x3 - 135lb
Wide grip pull ups I can do about 5 with good technique
(Fixed the sets and reps)

So my question is how can I get my squat strength back up the speed other than obviously doing it several times a week and how to prevent further injuries that would result in taking time off squatting again.

Are there specific stretches or supplementary exercises I can do on non-training days or cardio/conditioning days? I really like the SS routine and plan on sticking with it for as long as I’m still making any gains.


Honestly bud, at your level the best thing you can do to improve your squats is squat… squat often, squat with intensity and squat with perfect technique.

If you want to also add in some assistance then lifts that I found really improved my squats are bulgarian split-squats and good-mornings. When it comes down to it though, they are called assistance for a reason… you really just need to squat.

If you’re having trouble getting into a squat (flexibility wise) then a good exercise to do is the 4 part squat:

  1. start standing with your feet in your squat stance (roughly shoulder width. maybe a bit wider)
  2. bend over maintaining lumber arch and grab your toes (this should stretch the shit out of your hammies)
  3. slowly sit back into a squat, forcing your knees out with your elbows, all the while maintaining your low-back arch (this should stretch the shit out of your hips)
  4. stand up and repeat

I find that this works best if you take about 5 seconds at each phase (the hammy stretch, the sitting back and the actual bottom of the squat)


^^^^best advice ever.

Also try to go always for a PR, it doesn’t matter if it’s only 5 pounds, always try, give 100% of you on working sets, if you don’t feel the need to wonder why the hell are you doing such a hard set, then you’re not lifting with enought intensity.


Sounds like you need to strengthen your hips/ hamstrings/ glutes. These are the muscles that get you out of the hole. WRPL is spot on. Squat- then find your weak points, do accessory movements to bring up the weakness. I’d recommend pull thru’s, Zercher squats and if you squat wide (ie shoulder width or wider), Sumo deadlifts. At this point don’t really focus on how much weight you got on the bar…do what you can do with the proper form and work up from there as you get stronger. Good luck.

Rippetoe’s calls for 1x5 deadlift, not 3x5. Probably a typo, but just in case.

I’m also doing Rippetoe’s and didn’t really injure myself, but I definitely had a slight inner leg muscle pull at around 150 pounds (I know, weak right?). I stretch religiously now after my rowing warm-up and it has not only done wonders for my squat flexibility, but I’m basically pain free now.

Thanks for the tips, I knew it came down to just doing more squats but I guess it will just take time to get used to the Rippetoe’s squat technique. The one problem I have with doing heavy reps is I work out alone at home. I have a squat rack however the issue is that I have no safety pins or any aid that would save my ass if I can’t bring myself out of the hole. I’m not trying to use this as an excuse to slack on the weights, it’s just something I have to factor in to prevent injury.


[quote]JT778 wrote:
I have a squat rack however the issue is that I have no safety pins or any aid that would save my ass if I can’t bring myself out of the hole.


No biggie, go to a hardware store and get two sets of long chains to make loops around the top of your rack and around the bar. One for each side if you have to bail the chains will catch the bar as a spot pin would do. Another use is you could hang the bar to do good mornings suspended from whatever height you wanted. You could also do the same for the bench.

This brings me to your original post. Were you benching alone when you went for max?

[quote]StrengthDawg wrote:

This brings me to your original post. Were you benching alone when you went for max? [/quote]

When I went for max on bench I called my brother down to make sure I was able to rack it. I can’t depend on him for consistent spotting so I’m left to train alone.

The squat rack does not have an overhang like a typical power rack, it just has two supports and a pull-up bar overhead holding it together and another horizontal support at the base. So hanging a chain wouldn’t work out, though I like the idea. I can see about getting a picture up later if possible.