elitefts™ Sunday Edition

Originally Published: December 2, 2005

Rule #1 – Clear your head

Get rid of all the numbers in your head. Sometimes they can be limiting factors. Only put a new goal in your head once you attain one, and that is your opener! Several years ago, we all thought that an 800-pound bench was out of reach, but now it is fairly common. Remember how Roger Banister was the first to break the four-minute mile? Everyone thought that this milestone would never be shattered. However, as soon as people saw that Banister had done it, numerous people repeated his feat. Don’t get caught up in the numbers. What is good today will be average tomorrow.

Rule #2 – Get a stance

Find what stance works for you. This takes a long time and will take some experimentation. Examine your squatting style and see what top lifter is similar. What stance does he use? Remember not everyone can squat like Chuck Vogelpohl or Steve Goggins. They have perfected their form and technique to suit them. You must do the same. Many people have jumped on the “wider is better” bandwagon when some people need to squat a little bit narrower. Everyone is built differently and has different strengths. It’s your job to find yours.

Rule #3 – Find your shelf

In order to be comfortable under the bar, you must find where you need to place the bar on your back. Having a bar too high or too low will result in failure. Not everyone can use a low bar position, so if this feels uncomfortable, change it. You have to find what works for you.

Rule #4 – Learn to love the hole

Most people are scared when they reach depth. They are nervous at parallel because this is their weak point. Learn to be comfortable and strong in the hole. Don't be scared when you go low. Make it your strong point! This is where many lifters lose their air, their confidence, and their squat. Instead of being afraid, embrace this part of the squat. Learn to love the pressure and the feeling that your head is about to explode. If you learn to love this and expect it, you will do much better. If you are always scared, then your squat will reflect it.

Rule #5 – Have a big bag of tricks

Use every means necessary to get your squat stronger. (i.e., boxes, bands, chains, weight releasers, and/or combo of these). Find what works for you the best and then attack your training cycle aggressively. Again, this is going to take some time to find out what works best. I advise any beginner to use basics, but eventually you are going to become advanced and do something different. This doesn’t give you license to put every gadget and device on the bar either! Don’t dig your head into the sand. If you want to make progress, you are going to have to use a number of different means. You are going to have to talk to others, read, and experiment.

Rule #6 – Be at one with your gear

Try all the gear you think will work for you. See what the guys who are better than you wear. Ask them why they chose what they did. More gear does not equal better results. Better gear equals better results. But better means something different for every lifter. Use the gear that works for you and learn it. Get comfortable in it. ''A comfortable lifter lifts more weights!" I think Socrates may have uttered that on his way to the monolift.

Rule #7 – Improve your form

Always work on improving your squat form. You are never as good as you think you are. There is always something that you need to work on. In this case, you had better have good lifting partners and honest lifting partners. This will make a huge difference. There are so many different aspects of squatting, and your training partners need to be able to look at your squat and see everything. You must also be able to take criticism. If you do not have training partners, you may have to record your lifts. This will allow you to look at your squat and really examine it.

Rule #8 – A strong squat has a strong mind

To squat big, you need to think big. Have no limit on your end result. When planning your meet strategy, your opener is the only lift that is your limit. Don't plan your other attempts; let them happen on game day!

Rule #9 – Treat your lighter squats like they are heavy

Don't over-compensate your lighter squats. Always execute your squat with perfect form and make sure that your mind is “on.” Most people get injured when squatting with light weights because they don’t treat them with respect.

Rule #10 – Squat big in the meet

It does not matter what you do in a gym. What you do at a meet reflects what you learned in training. Aside from judging, you are responsible for everything else. Any excuse you have is only your fault and your fault only.

*Bonus Rule -If you want to squat big, train with other guys who squat big. You need to train with powerlifters if you plan on being one.