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How to Increase Squat Weight for Powerlifting and Bodybuilding

Squats – basic elements in bodybuilding and powerlifting – are used to build muscle mass and develop leg strength. Today we will look at the classic squatting technique from different disciplines, their features, and also give recommendations that will improve the results in these exercises.

Powerlifting Squats

When it comes to powerlifting, it’s not muscle volume that’s important, it’s the weight you lift. Therefore, basic exercises, including squats, are aimed at developing the strength characteristics of the athlete.


Choose a comfortable grip of the palms. Typically, this distance is 12-15 cm wider than the shoulder joints. Place the bar on the top of the shoulder blades, approximately at the level of the rear deltoids:

  1. After removing the bar from the stops, take a step back, spread your feet wider than your shoulders and turn your toes at an angle of 40-45 ° outward.
  2. While inhaling deeply, at the same time pull the pelvis back and bend the knee joints.
  3. Smoothly “passing” 2/3 of the trajectory, slightly accelerate to create an inertial pushing motion downward.
  4. Exhaling , rise to the starting position and fully straighten your knees at the top.

Technique Tips:

  • Before performing, straighten your shoulders, arch your lower back forward, keep your head straight. This will keep your back steady.
  • Try to keep your knee joints in the same plane as your feet. Avoid pinching the hips inward, as this can cause injury.
  • At the lowest point, the back is at a 45 ° angle. Leaning lower will increase the stress on your knees. Keeping the spine upright will increase the tension in the lower back.
  • Squat to full range. This is to engage the tendons. Thanks to the elasticity of these tissues, you will be able to overcome the “blind” point in the lower phase.

The reasons for the low performance of squats

How usually it is:

  • Genetics . Many aspiring powerlifters fail to squat due to weak tendons and an undeveloped neuromuscular connection.
  • Incorrect technique . To maximize your barbell squat, you must adhere to the element’s rules.
  • Excessive loads . A common mistake is that strength training of the lower body and back is put side by side in the program.

Ways to increase the effectiveness of squats


  • Work to strengthen your tendons and improve endurance. To do this, add light barbell squats for high reps (2-3 sets of 25-50) to your training plan.
  • Powerlifting squats should be performed according to strict technique. Therefore, seek help from a trainer. An experienced mentor will help identify critical errors and find ways to eliminate them.
  • To increase strength, abandon the scheme of 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions. Pick up more weight, but do 5-6 sets of 1-6 reps. Use a pyramid scheme – decrease the number of squats and increase the weight of the bar with each set.
  • Increase the recovery time between sets. In strength exercises, it is allowed to rest for up to 4-5 minutes. A long pause is necessary to restore the heart rate and replenish energy costs.
  • Additional elements will help to increase the squat in strength training. Include a “utility room” in the program. For example, hyperextension to strengthen the lower back or plyometric exercises to increase the elasticity of the tendons and develop explosive power in the legs.
  • Start taking creatine. This supplement helps to increase energy reserves and muscle strength. Creatine is not doping and has practically no contraindications. The recommended duration of admission is 4 weeks. After that, you should take a break for 10-14 days and repeat the course.
  • Use weightlifting accessories. To “spur” the weight gain while squatting, wear a jumpsuit and elastic knee wraps. This will help you overcome heavy loads and reduce the likelihood of injury. Get flat-soled barbells.

About squat increase programs

We do not recommend developing your own training plan for enhancing results. Powerlifting is a competitive discipline that has a complex system of training an athlete.

A powerlifter’s program consists of several cycles and periods (strength, preparatory, competitive, recovery). For each stage, an individual plan is built, taking into account the physical condition, weight, anatomical features of the athlete. Therefore, in order to progress in powerlifting, it is necessary to practice only under the guidance of an experienced trainer.

Squats in bodybuilding

In bodybuilding not so important is the maximum weight of the bar. Much more important on the result is the time spent by the muscle under power load, which leads to the subsequent hypertrophy of the fibers.


Straighten the shoulder girdle, bend the lumbar region , keep your head straight. Maintain this back position until the end of the set:

  1. Grasp the bar with a comfortable grip and step under the bar. Then straighten up and press the upper part of the shoulder bones to the projectile.
  2. After removing the weight from the racks, step back.
  3. Place your feet at shoulder level or slightly wider, spread the toes to the sides (at 45 ° ).
  4. Inhaling air, gently move the pelvis back and at the same time bend the knee joints.
  5. Go down to a right angle between the lower leg and thigh, then exhale back to the upright position.

Technique Tips:

  • Do not “fall” forward with the body. Otherwise, you risk injuring your knees or falling.
  • Do not bring your hips inward. Such a mistake can damage the ligaments of the knee joints.
  • Control both phases of the exercise. Smooth squat and the same smooth rise.
  • Keep the center of gravity in the middle. If you shift your body weight forward onto your socks, there is a risk of injury to your knee joints.

Reasons for low squat performance

As a rule, these are:

  • Incorrect execution technique, shifting the payload from the lower body to the back muscles.
  • Overextension of the legs in beginners, arising from a combination of strength and aerobic types training.
  • The weight of the bar is too small, which cannot create the necessary load for the muscles of the lower body.

Ways to Improve Squat Performance


  • Follow the correct technique. Ask an experienced athlete to watch your squats and note any mistakes.
  • Add a helping hand to the program. For example, do power lunges, machine leg extensions, or a farmer’s walk.
  • Choose the right barbell weight. You should feel rejection at the end of each set.
  • Use sports nutrition. Creatine, protein, vitamins will help build muscle volume and strength.
  • Use weightlifting accessories – belts and bandages. This will increase your squat weight.
  • Do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps. This amount of training is considered optimal for leg enlargement.
  • Try different squats: front squats, Smith machine, narrow / wide stance squats, Hackenschmidt squats, etc.
  • Increase with each workout. load. This will prevent the leg muscles from adapting and will encourage them to grow steadily.
  • Lose weight and try “in-range” squats. That is, do not lower the pelvis below the knees, and at the top point, do not straighten your legs to the end. At the same time, increase the number of repetitions to 25-30 per set.

Interesting fact. Six-time “Mr. Olympia” Dorian Yates said he was disappointed with the squat as a bulking exercise. The famous athlete completely abandoned this basic exercise and replaced it with a leg press in the simulator.

He explained this by the fact that when certain weight loads in squats are reached, the risk of injury to the knees or spine is critically increased. Therefore, for athletes training over 200 kg, Yates recommends switching to platform presses.

Note that this advice applies only to experienced bodybuilders. For beginners, squats remain the best exercise for developing muscle mass throughout the body.

How to increase the load in a squat girl?

As a rule, women’s workouts are aimed at losing weight, strengthening the muscles and rounding the buttocks. In such exercises, you do not need to regularly increase the weight of the weights to the maximum values. Otherwise, the athlete runs the risk of increasing the hips in volume, which can lead to a deterioration in the proportions of the figure.

Присед со штангой для девушек

The main thing in “women’s” squats is to focus on stretching and contracting the gluteal muscles. And in order to improve the effect, girls are recommended to additionally do various exercises: plie squats, cross lunges back, gluteal bridges and others.

If an athlete is purposefully preparing for bodybuilding or powerlifting competitions, then she it is necessary to follow all the rules of squats and regularly increase the weight of the bar. The difference with men’s training is only in the loads. The rest of the nuances are the same for both genders.