WSBB Blog: Advanced Squat Exercises
Time to Read: 3min
As a competitive powerlifter, the squat lays the foundation of any meet you compete in. It is a lift that not only gets you into the meet, it also makes up a large portion of your total. To build this lift, we must attack an array of muscle groups every workout to make sure we are training as efficiently as possible.
This is achieved not only through intelligent main exercises programming, but also by implementing effective accessory exercises. This article will go over some of the advanced ways we set up accessory exercises that contribute to gains in squat strength.
Front Squat with Bands
Front squatting against bands is one of the best ways to improve quad strength, trunk strength, and overall squat strength. This exercise will also assist in improving chest elevation and posture during the squat. We typically use the olympic bar, the bar bow, or the safety squat bar to perform this exercise.
Anyone squatting under 700lbs will usually use a miniband up to a green band. Anyone squatting over 700lbs can use up to a blue band for their front squats. If you have shoulder issues we recommend using a zercher harness to carry the barbell.
We recommend working up to max effort singles when performing this exercise.
Beltless Giant Cambered Bar Squats
This exercise is simplistic in its setup, but difficult in its execution. By using the giant cambered bar you are placing a great challenge on the back, glutes, and hamstrings to keep the chest elevated and negotiate the bar sway. Eliminating the use of a belt only increases the training effect, placing a greater demand on the lifter to properly brace and use the aforementioned muscle groups.
This exercise can be done as a main or accessory exercise. When done as a main exercise we recommend working up to a top set of three or five. When performed as an accessory exercise we recommend performing three to five sets of eight to ten reps.
Safety Squat Bar Squats with Forward Pulling Bands
This is an exercise that can be brutal. If you are someone who has an issue dropping your chest and maintaining proper posture during your squat, this is the exercise for you. The safety squat bar loads the weight onto the body in a way that a majority of the bar weight is placed onto the quads, while adding the forward pulling band tension forces the hamstrings and glutes to engage and forces the lifter to drive using the whole foot.
As far as band tension goes, the most we use is monster minibands. We recommend anchoring the bands to dumbbells, adjust the dumbbell position if you want to increase or decrease the forward tension. This exercise can be done as a max effort exercise working up to a heavy single, or it can be used as an accessory exercise to get some rep work in and improve positioning.
Beltless Pause Squats
One of the best workouts to not only test your squat ability, but also identify weakness in your squat. This exercise is used to improve squat positioning throughout the entire movement, as well as improve reversal strength. Pausing the weight without a belt forces the lifter to be near perfect with their breathing and their technique.
This exercise is best performed for single reps, working up to a max. What makes this exercise valuable is you are able to test, identify weaknesses, and improve position confidence all in one exercise. If you keep missing competition squats and can’t figure out where your weakness is, give beltless pause squats a try and see if the weakness doesn’t become evident.
On the path to great strength, you have to increase the difficulty factor. Doing the same tired squat exercises week in and week out will only result in accommodation and a decrease in program efficiency. By adding in these exercises, you will avoid accommodation all the while getting stronger and more confident in your squatting.