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How To Perform ATG Squats

ATG squats – or “at the ground” squats are very popular in the bodybuilding and powerlifting world. Many fitness professionals believe that this is the best and most effective way to squat and that all lifters should learn this technique. 

In this article, I will discuss the difference between ATG squats and regular squats, the benefits and disadvantages of performing ATG squats and how you should incorporate them into your current leg workout.

It is well known that the barbell squat is one of the best exercises for building lower body strength and muscle mass. A regular squat will have the lifter lowering the weight until their hip joint is parallel to their knee joint.

This is a perfectly acceptable way to squat, and the technique that should be used most of the time. Sometimes however, you may want to add ATG squats into your leg workout. ATG squats differ from regular squats in that you lower the weight below parallel – almost as if you are going to sit on the ground (hence the name).

The increased range of motion during ATG squats is thought to increase muscle involvement, stretch the muscles out completely, and provide a better workout for your legs overall. On the down side, ATG squats are tough for beginners to get the hang of.

There is also a greater risk for injury because of the increased range of motion and distance your body has to travel. If you want to add ATG squats to your leg routine, be sure to perfect your squat technique. You should also spend some time each day working on hip flexor and hamstring flexibility. This will help prevent injury to both areas.

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As I mentioned, understanding the technique is very important when performing ATG squats. 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.

ATG squats can be added to your current leg workout by substituting them with some regular squats. They are much tougher than regular squats, so you will probably need to lower the weight when you perform them.

Because ATG squats are much harder and tax the muscles so much more, it may be beneficial to move ATG squats to the beginning of your workout and then perform regular squats after. As always, practicing the technique as much as possible will help you learn the movement faster and avoid injury.

As you can see, the addition of ATG squats to your leg workout can be incredibly advantageous. Think about adding ATG squats to your next workout!

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