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How To Load The Squat

The barbell squat is one of the most complicated exercises to perform. It is also, not surprisingly, one of the best for overall muscle strength and growth.

Learning how to load the squat for optimal growth is just as important and perfecting the technique. This article will include a brief overview of squat technique and examine the best way to load the squat.

Read on to find out how you can make the squat one of the most effective exercises in your strength training program!

If you are new to the squat, learning the proper technique and form is critical. The better your form, the more efficient the exercise will be and you will decrease the risk of injury dramatically. To start, unrack the weight and place you feet a little wider than shoulder width apart.

Your toes should be slightly pointed outwards and your abdominals should be tight. To avoid bringing your knees ahead of your feet, stick your butt out as far as possible while keeping your chest up and sit back in a slow, controlled manner.

Watch your knees as you lower and stop when your hip joint is as far below your knee joint as possible. This is called the bottom of the squat or the “hole”.  Pausing in the hole for a couple of seconds can be a great way to stretch out your muscles, so consider this during your warm up sets.

Explode upwards, keeping your chest up and knees perpendicular to the floor. Focus on driving your hips upwards during this part of the movement. Remember these cues for your next rep and repeat! Try to watch as many videos on proper squat as possible. People often learn better when they see someone else perform the activity.

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When loading the squats, you can take two different approaches – high intensity or high volume. High intensity refers to the amount of weight you lift while high volume refers to the amount of sets you perform. Obviously, the greater amount of weight you use, the less sets you will be able to perform and visa versa.

If you decide on high intensity training, you will be able to shorten your workouts and lift a greater amount of weight each set. If you decide on high volume training, you will be able to fully exhaust your muscles and increase your endurance.

Whatever strategy you decide on, you should make sure you are following the principle of progressive overload. This means that each session you should be increasing the amount you are able to lift and therefore continually challenging your body. 

Progressively increasing the weight will keep your body guessing each workout. This will prevent plateaus and decreases in strength. For the squat, it is a good idea to calculate you one rep max and perform sets based of percentages of your one rep max.

For example, if your one rep max is 100 pounds, 80% of your one rep max is 80 pounds. Try performing 5 sets of 5 reps – the first set will be 50% of your max, the second 60%, and so on until you reach 90%. Follow these simple principles for loading the squat and watch your strength increase exponentially!

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