If you’ve been following me on YouTube or just keeping up with my coaching log, then you’ve already learned how to Unfuck Your Squat mobility and technique.  In the last part of the trilogy, Mike Lusby, Dominic Morais and I share three exercises that you probably haven’t seen before to help address common weaknesses in the squat.

Keep Your Knees from Caving with Banded Goblet Squats

These suckers look easy, and they’re simple to set up, but they’re extremely difficult to execute.  To do them:

  1. Grab a light dumbbell and an Elitefts light band, and loop the band around the post of a power rack around knee height.
  2. Loop the other end of the band around one knee, and step away from the power rack so that the band is pulling your knee out.
  3. Grab the dumbbell, pick one leg up off the floor, and squat down as deep as you can while keeping a tight core and glutes.
  4. Repeat for 3-4 sets of 10-20 reps.

When you set up with the band pulling your knee out, your adductors really have to work to keep your knee tracking properly over your toes.  You can switch it up, though, and set up so that the band is pulling your knee in to really hammer that glute medius.  Don’t forget to train both legs!

Stop Good Morning Squats with the Power Pohl

A post shared by Ben Pollack (@phdeadlift) on

The Power Pohl is a harness that loads weight directly to the front of your hips, putting you in a great position to easily activate your glutes and hamstrings.  Just load up the harness, grab a low box, and squat, making sure that you’re breaking at the hips while keeping your core tight and tension on your glutes and hamstrings -- there’s not much quad activation with this one.

Strengthening and learning to activate the glutes and hams will help to keep you upright in the hole during your squat, and carry over to the deadlift, too.  If your gym doesn’t have a Power Pohl. you can substitute a goblet squat variation -- just hold a kettlebell at hip level instead of at your chest.

Stay Upright with Single-Leg Deep Lunges

Falling forward in the squat is a tricky one because it usually involves a combination of technical, mental, and physical breakdown in the movement.  This exercise forces you to stay upright while keeping all of your core and lower body musculature engaged, so it’s a great way to address the problem without any heavy loading.  To do it:

  1. Grab a kettlebell and hold it close to your chest.
  2. Drop into a deep lunge, with your weight evenly balanced from side to side and front to back.
  3. Stand upright by driving through your front foot, paying careful attention to not lean forward as you do.
  4. Repeat for 3-4 sets of 10-20 reps.

If you give this exercise a good try and are still falling forward, make sure to check out Dave Tate’s classic article on the issue here!

Remember: You’re Training a Movement

The squat (and bench press and deadlift) is actually a pretty complicated exercise, and if you’re struggling to perform it correctly, it’s important to identify the cause of your struggles, not to just address the symptoms.  A good coach can walk you through the process, but if you’re on your own, be careful not to rely on these or any other assistance exercises as a crutch.  Instead, work to develop your body as one unit, paying close attention to the physical, mental, and technical aspects of every movement you perform.