Tips and Techniques on Fixing a Disproportionately Weak Squat
March 30th 2019
You must squat more and make your training harder. One of the biggest reasons why lifters have a weak squat is because they are sandbagging their training.
The squat, commonly referred to as the king of all workouts, is one of the most promising strength training exercises you can do in the gym. The exercise focuses on all leg muscles and engages glutes, thighs, buttocks, hamstrings, and hips among other lower body parts. It is the recommended exercise in case you want great quads, strong glutes, and body-wide lean muscles. But again, achieving these fantastic benefits of squatting doesn’t come easy. Squats need proper coordination of various muscles, ligament, and joints. In case one or group of them isn’t activated, then you’re more likely to experience slow, dangerous and potentially ugly squats.
How to fix weak squats
When tackling weak squats, you have to address issues such as mobility, form, squat depth, knees caving in, coming back on toes, round back, and falling forward.
Squat more and more
Although most people squat once a week, it may not work well in case you’re trying to fight off slow or disproportionately weak squat. Squatting more can help you improve your chances of success.
Most beginner squat programs have you squatting three times a week. Some specific squat programs have you squatting every day. How come you cannot improve your squat when there are so many different resources to help you? Stop playing the victim and start squatting more. Now.
Work on your form
As mentioned earlier, squats need proper coordination, flexibility, and even mobility. For you to perform squats correctly, there is no shortcut as doing the same wrong thing time and again can hurt you more. There are several ways you can improve your form. Some of them include overhead squat, box squat, and safety bar squat.
But overall, you will need to keep doing squats. Again and again. With perfect form on every rep.
This type of squat seeks to improve shoulder and core strength and stability. It also mobilizes the ankles, hips and thoracic spine. It makes you feel comfortable when doing the front squat or snatch. To do overhead squat, begin with a barbell held overhead. The grip should be wide. Descend slowly as you keep the lumbar spine unextended. With the full foot on the ground, keep your hip crease slightly below your knees. Repeat as you ascend.
When doing box squat, place it at the desired height and try to remain very close to the box but don’t touch it. Squat till you sit on the box. Don’t bounce off the box or allow knees to cave in.
When doing the safety squat, try to look forward and not up or down. Continue till the thighs remain parallel to the ground then go back up. Try to avoid the mistake of pulling the handles downwards.
Learn to squat three times a week. Each squat should include up to two variations. You can also interchange the times of the week you perform.
Improve your mobility
Poor mobility in the abductors and ankles can lead to weak squats. It can either make you to excessively lean forward or collapse your knee due to tight abductors. If you have a very stiff or tight body, then it becomes a challenge to move your body fluidly when squatting.
The best way to fix limited mobility is through dynamic mobility work. Although you can do foam rolling to loosen tight areas like the chest, shoulder, lower back, mid-back, glutes, and hamstrings, performing overhead squats can open up and mobilize major areas of the body. You can begin with a one or two sets consisting of 10-12 reps using a PV pipe. Move progressively to the barbell and do 2-3 sets as you increase your weight. Additionally, you can do stretches in between every squat set. You can do goblet for 30 seconds and calves for 15 seconds.
Calf stretches help to loosen tight calf muscles. It increases and helps you to maintain flexibility which consequently leads to a better range of motion at the ankles. It also prevents you from various lower leg injuries. Remember that in case you lose your range of motion in your ankle, then the body looks for compensation elsewhere.
Improve your squat depth
You can fail to reach your squat depth due to various reasons. It could be a problem in your mobility, particularly the joint in your knee or hip. For lower back pain, you can work on your upper back and hips. Other reasons that might make it hard for you to reach full squat depth include:
• Constricted ankles
This can be caused by wearing rigid footwear. If you wear tight shoes throughout the day, you are at risk of experiencing immobile ankles which can force your shins to adopt a vertical shape which can throw you backward or forward. This can lead to hip-related issues. Ankle mobility drills can help you re-establish your squatting mechanics. One way to fix this is to stand while facing a wall at about 1 foot away. Keep your foot flat then drive your knee towards the wall.
• Immobile hips
This is often caused by shortened or tight hip flexors, poor alignment of the pelvis, weak glutes or tight hamstrings. You are more likely to experience this if you sit all day long in front of a computer or spend much of your time on the couch. To resolve this, try stretching to elevate your hip flexor. It should be done prior to lower body workout. Striders can also help with hip mobility. It also helps to stretch your hamstrings. To do striders, consider doing it in a push-up manner then step your right foot outside your right hand. While remaining on the ball of your right leg, drop your torso down to stretch your hip. Repeat the same on the left side. You can also activate glutes by doing hip stretches, glute bridges, and lunges.
• Glute bridges
With your foot shoulder width, lie flat on the floor on your back. Spread your legs 45 degrees apart then breath in to engage your core. Contract the glutes, engage then squeeze them as much as possible. Push the glutes up while keeping your shoulders in a straight line. You can do it for some minutes then release them down.
• Hip stretches
To do hip stretch begin by kneeling with one knee then place the other in front. Try leaning back to feel the stretch in your hips. Stay in the same position for about 10 seconds. To improve your stretch, you can hold your arms up in the air then lean back more. You can progress by adding small pressure.
This is quite simple. Start by leaning one foot forward and other knee bent down flat on the floor. Repeat using the other leg.
All these can help improve the alignment of the pelvis which leads to improved posture.
Resolve the problem of bending knees first
This applies to low bar and some hybrid squatters. If you experience bending at the knees instead of sitting back, then you can limit your squat. It is a clear sign that there is too much pressure at the patellar tendons which often limits your ability to squat. To fix this, try to learn sitting back not down. While it may take time especially when working with heavy loads, you can begin with an empty bar with light bands attached. You can then try sitting back as if looking for a chair.
The inability to sit back can be caused by poor hamstring strength. It even becomes very challenging when working with heavy loads. To fix this, go back to the glute-ham machine as it can help improve weak hamstrings.
Knees coming inwards
This is a common challenge that most squatters experience. You can descent pretty well to hit the full depth and try to come back upwards, your knees begin to cave in leaving you in a dangerous position. Weak hips are the major cause. The solution is to work your hips to improve strength. The best way is to use a band, loop it twice then put in around your legs at knee height as you squat using light weights. Repeat it severally as you progress on weight.
Resolve the round back problem
The lower back can round at the lowest section of your squat. This might be due to tight hamstrings and hips. To correct this, try practicing dynamic stretches and hip mobility exercises. Weak upper back can also lead to this problem. Doing lots of pull-ups, heavy shrugs, bent over rows and rack pulls can improve your mid-back strength.
Improve your core strength
Sometimes you can be incapable of remaining firm and upright while holding the load on the bar which can make you collapse. Fatigue is the major cause but you can resolve by coordinating your breath, bracing up your torso. Other exercises such as kettlebell get-ups, dumbbell, abs roll-outs, heavy rack pulling, and back tensions can help resolve this.
Signs that you have weak squats
Glutes are very essential when squatting. If you have weak glutes, then you can be quickly thrown off posture, balance and even your athletic performance. Weak glutes lead to a decline in mobility particularly around the hips. This prompts the body to over-compensate the reduced mobility and function which often results in poor use of muscles. The best way to test whether you’ve got weak glutes is by doing a single squat. If your knee can flex to 90 degrees, then it’s a sign of good gluteal muscles. The signs that can show weak glutes include hip and knee pain, poor posture, abnormal gait, blisters, and plantar fasciitis. If you’re currently battling with weak squat, then below is a comprehensive guide on fixing a disproportionately weak squat.
Regardless of your workout goal, one of the best exercises you should never leave out is the squat. The workout comes with several compounded benefits. However, squatting sometimes can be a big challenge for most people. In case you’ve tried but experienced slow, disproportionate and potentially dangerous squat, then the above are some ways on how you can fix.