There are many mistakes made by lifters when squatting. The most common of these is the mistake of not breaking parallel at the bottom of the lift, which can occur for several reasons, including:
- Not pushing the feet outward, which results in the knees rotating inward
- Not arching the back (rounding the back instead), which results in bending over without the hips actually going lower
- Not pulling the elbows forward and not arching both the upper and lower back, which results in the bar not maintaining its desired position over the hip joint (or as close as possible) to ensure the greatest leverage
When the hips break parallel, the lifter must push upward against the bar, not downward towards the floor. The goal is to lift the bar, so logically the lift should be initiated by driving the back into the bar. If not, the lifter will transition into a bent over position as when doing a good morning, resulting in excess stress on the lower back and a position of poor leverage.
Bands placed in front of the power rack or monolift attached to the bar will teach the lifter to arch the back and push the knees out automatically. This builds a stronger back and perfects form.
All lifters must box squat. If the lifter’s box squat is at or below parallel and the lifter sits down on the box properly, the lifter will break parallel on every rep. Sitting back on the box far enough that the shins break past perpendicular to the floor places the load directly on the hamstrings and hips. This cannot be done in a regular squat or the lifter would fall backward.
The most effective methods to develop explosive and absolute strength are static-overcome-by-dynamic actions and relaxed-overcome-by-dynamic actions. Box squats involve both methods.
Finally, Converse Chuck Taylor® is the best shoe for squatting. The soles are completely flat, allowing the lifter to push the feet out to the sides.
At Westside, the ratio between the classical lifts and special exercises implemented is 20:80. Choosing the correct exercises is crucial to success. It does no good to be strong in the wrong exercises.
For squatting and deadlifting, the glutes, hamstrings, and hips are the most important. Reverse hypers, glute-hams, inverse curls, leg curls of all types should be included, but the lifter must never forget the abs! The abs must start every lift. That is why the lifter should take a deep breath before starting the bench or standing press, squat, or pull.