Core Stability/Strengthening for the Squat.
I'm currently struggling to increase my Squat. The biggest problem I have isn't a lack of hip or leg strength, but I lack of core/midsection stability.
When I drop down into the bottom part of a squat (with maximal loads) the weight is forcing me to far forward. I just can't keep my torso up. I squat low bar and I understand that some lean is to be expected, but this I believe is going beyond the normal mechanics of the movement.
I believe the problem is my core/ab/midsection strength. It just feels like this is the weak link when I am performing this lift.
My question is:
What assistance exercise(s) do you guys recommend to specifically increase core strength and stability for the Squat?
I currently do 3 sets of 8 weighted crunches on the decline bench and 3 sets of max (currently 15, once I do 3 sets of 15 I'll bump it up to 16 and so on) with just bodyweight. I do these 2 movements on different days. I only do ab work twice a week, one day weighted, the next just bodyweight.
My thoughts are maybe I need to switch out the bodyweight crunches with something else or I need to add ab/core work a 3rd time a week.
It depends how bad the lean is Josh, and also how you're built. Heavy (subjective) forward lean isn't necessary indicative of bad form, not everyone will squat pretty. I certainly don't. At various points I've tried to 'fix' my forward lean, there was nothing to fix though. That's just the way I squat.
Having said that the biggest contributors to good form for me are:
1) Toes out, knees out so I can drop between my thighs rather than on top of them.
2) Slightly higher bar position. On top of your rear delts is fine, I've seen some guys take low bar too far.
3) Drop faster.
4) Stretch prior.
The best thing would be to see a video of a max set. We can go from there.
As far as the good form contributors are concerned:
1.) I am confident that I am good. I get my legs open enough that I can drop in between.
2.) This is something I may have to look at. It is quite possible I am going a bit to low. Interesting that you bring this up, because at one time I played with barbell positioning a bit. I went really low and basically came to the conclusion that placing the bar lower wasn't necessarily better.
3.) I make an effort to commit to the descent and really drop fast.
4.) I stretch my groin, but that is about it.
What stretches do you use?
This isn't the first time it's been recommended to me that I get a squat video posted. I am not avoiding it for fear of criticism or trying to hide something, it is the logistics of getting someone to go with me that is also willing to film me. Having said that, I am going to make the commitment to go ahead and make it happen. If that's what it takes to improve my squat, then I need to do it.
Sounds good Josh. Regarding the video, no-one will take the piss around here.
Those form pointers were my own, things that I would get you to watch for if we ever trained together. You may have a different set of pointers but the best way to know is that video!
To answer your question, I'm very inflexible around the hamstrings/hips/quads/calves. I wasn't always but that hamstring injury I suffered in 2007 really screwed me over in that regard. So I tend to stretch, quads, hamstrings, groin, calves in that order.
Dynamic stretching is great. Increasing my ankle and hip mobility has noticeably helped my squat.
Abs: I like weighted planks, side bends, weighted sit ups, front squats, heavy front squat lockouts.
Oh, your back strength may not be a problem, but extra back work is never a bad thing.
I agree with everything said above, but just some other suggestions for core.
I think walking with weights overhead is an awesome ab builder! Does not have to be heavy, just something. Also, maybe some overhead squats would help.
I also am a fan of front squats. Especially if you have the problem of going forward. If you go forward on a front squat, you lose the weight. I think actual ab exercises on do so much for stabilization. Heavy decline sit ups are really all I do.
I wouldn't worry about posting the video Josh, I had the same worries but the lads here sorted out my depth. At least I now know that when I do get depth, my technique is actually quite decent but of course I can (and will) improve. Hopefully, the MAB posse can sort you out.
Interesting that you mention the forward lean, I've been nailed on squats a couple of times recently and being forced forward because of excessive weight was one of the main reasons.
Personally, I am going to add some ab work to extra sessions when I have the energy.
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