How to Increase Squat Max – Introduction
What are the best ways how to Increase your squat weight fast?
Squats are one of the most productive exercises you can do.
Working almost every muscle in your lower body and several in your upper body, they truly deserve their title of the king of free weight training.
Whether you want to build muscle, improve athletic performance, get lean, or just stay fit, squats can help!
But, for some people, the squat is a way to develop and test strength – the weight on the bar is what really matters.
After all, squats are the first discipline contested in powerlifting competitions and often feature in strongman meets, too.
As a beginner, your squat weight should increase naturally and gradually.
Simply squatting a couple of times a week will make you stronger.
Add more weight to the bar weekly, and your squat strength will grow.
But, unfortunately, those linear beginner gains won’t last forever, and in time your progress will slow and may even stall.
It’s very frustrating!
The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to continue squatting more and getting stronger.
In this article, we reveal the strategies you can use to increase your squat weight.
How to Increase your Squat Weight
Before you start using any of the following strategies, remember they’re only necessary if your squat progress is beginning to stall.
If you’re still adding weight to the bar week by week, you probably don’t need to use these tricks and tips.
But, if you’ve been training consistently for a year or more, and despite your best efforts, your weights are starting to stall, these methods could help keep things moving.
#1. Become a squat master
To squat heavy weight, your technique needs to be close to perfect.
Any technical errors will limit the amount of weight you can lift.
For example, if your hips rise faster than your shoulders, you’ll waste energy that could have been used to lift the bar.
So, analyze your squat and make sure that you aren’t inadvertently sabotaging your performance.
Eliminate the energy leaks that could be hurting your squat.
Pay extra attention to your form and, if necessary, spend some time practicing and perfecting your squat technique.
Video analyses can be especially helpful if you don’t have access to a knowledgeable coach.
#2. Squat more often
A lot of lifters squat once a week and then wonder why they’re not getting stronger.
Strength is a skill, and to get stronger, you need to practice the movement you want to improve more often than once a week.
Olympic lifters do their competitive lifts multiple times per week, and that approach is good for squatters, too.
So, instead of doing one big squat workout per week, try doing two or even three.
You don’t have to train with 100% intensity each time.
In fact, you’ll probably benefit from varying the intensity of your workouts, like this:
- Monday: Heavy squats 6 sets of 3 reps
- Wednesday: Light squats 3 sets of 12 reps
- Friday: Moderate squats 4 sets of 6 reps
You could also use different squat variations to avoid overtraining and boredom.
For example, you could do back squats for one workout, front squats for the next, and then Zercher squats for your last training session of the week.
#3. Choose the right assistance exercises
Powerlifters supplement their workouts with assistance or accessory exercises.
These lifts are designed to eliminate the weaknesses that could be limiting their performance of the “big three” – squat, bench press, and deadlift.
Your choice of assistance exercises will depend on what you need to address, as every lifter has different strengths and weaknesses.
Here are a few of the most common squat assistance exercises and the common problems they’re meant to fix:
- Pause squats and box squat – for increasing strength “out of the hole”
- Partial squats, band squats, and chain squats – for increasing strength at lockout
- Good mornings and Romanian deadlifts – for increasing lower back strength
- Booty band squats – for improving hip stability
- Squat jumps and box jumps – for increasing speed and power
- Hip thrusts – to increase glute strength
Assess your squat performance and then choose 1-3 assistance exercises and use them to strengthen your weak links.
#4. Include unilateral exercises in your workouts
Squats are a bilateral exercise, meaning they involve both legs.
Unfortunately, it’s entirely possible to have one leg stronger than the other and not realize it.
Left-to-right strength imbalances can significantly undermine your squat performance.
The best way to fix any strength imbalances is to include unilateral or single-leg exercises in your workouts.
Strengthening your weak side will improve your squat performance massively.
Squat-boosting unilateral leg exercises include:
- Bulgarian split squats
- Single-leg squats
- Skater squats
- Single-leg Romanian deadlifts
#5. Strengthen your core
While squats are very much a lower body exercise, you need a strong midsection to transfer the forces generated by your legs into the barbell on your shoulders.
If your midsection collapses, you’ll lose energy, and that will limit the amount of weight you’ll be able to lift.
So, if you want to squat big, you need a strong core.
The core is the collective term for the muscles that encircle your abdomen.
They include the rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis, diaphragm, and pelvic floor.
When they contract inward, these muscles stabilize your spine and prevent unwanted movement.
In short, they act a lot like a weightlifting belt.
Forget things like crunches and sit-ups.
Instead, you need to train your core as it works during squats, that is, by bracing.
Good core exercises for a bigger squat include:
- Single-arm farmer’s walk
- Hollow holds and hollow rocks
- Barbell rollouts
- Side planks
#6. Try the dynamic effort (DE) method
Ask a bodybuilder how to do squats, and they’ll probably tell you to descend slowly and come up slowly, too.
Squatting like this keeps your muscles under constant tension, which is good for hypertrophy or building muscle.
But, if you want to lift heavy weights, moving slowly will make your reps harder, and you won’t be able to use as much weight.
Instead, you need to move quickly, or at least TRY to move quickly!
The faster you try and move, the more muscle fibers you’ll recruit, and the more likely you are to blast through your rep.
Heavier weights lifted more easily.
Power exercises like the box squat and squat jumps can help increase your speed and power, but the dynamic effort (DE) method could be an even better choice because it’s so squat-specific.
With the DE method, you squat lighter weights as explosively as you can.
This is a common powerlifting technique, and as those guys are amongst the strongest squatters on the planet, if this method works for them, it’ll probably work for you too!
Here’s how to use the DE method:
- Load up the bar with about 50-60% of your one-repetition maximum (aka one rep max or 1RM)
- Adopt your normal squat stance and brace your abs.
- Descend under control and then, on reaching the bottom of your squat, explode upward and stand up as fast as possible.
- Reset your core and repeat.
- This method works best with sets of 2 to 3 reps.
#7. Increase your squat depth
When it comes to squatting, depth is key.
Not only does this allow you to use more weight, but a deeper squat also helps you activate more muscle fibers and improve your overall squatting performance.
Here are six tips to help you increase your squat depth:
1. Practice with a heavier weight.
2. Use a box to improve your depth.
3. Take a deep breath before you squat and hold it while descending into the squat position.
4. Keep your back straight and chest out during the descent and ascent of the squat, and maintain an upright posture throughout the entire movement.
5. Use a belt or band to help support your lower back when squatting deeply.
6. Practice regularly – even if you don’t see immediate results – as improvement will come with consistent use over time.
#8. Use a 20 rep squat program
A 20 rep squat program is an excellent way to improve your squat strength.
The theory behind this type of program is that you will gradually build muscle and strength by adding weight to the bar every time you squat.
Even if you only add half a pound, you are still gaining strength.
How to do the 20 rep squats program:
If you want to add muscle and strength to your lower body, then you need to do squats.
Squats are one of the best exercises for overall fitness because they work a variety of muscles in your legs and hips.
The 20 rep squat program outlined below will help you achieve those goals.
It is a challenging but achievable routine that will help you see results fast.
So get ready to squat!
You will squat 3 days per week for an entire month, but you won’t be working out on consecutive days.
Instead, you’ll work out on an alternating day format so that you have a complete rest day after each workout.
Every workout must start with a proper warm up.
If you don’t have time to warm up, you don’t have time to train!
- Do some light cardio walking, jumping jacks, jump rope, jogging in place, or on an air bike, treadmill, or rowing machine for 5 to 10 minutes to raise your body temperature
- Start with a light weight, 50 percent of your estimated one-rep max
- Do 3 to 4 reps using the best squat form possible
- Do 2 to 3 more sets using the same light weight
- Now you are ready for your one work set.
- It will be harder than you think!
- Do 20 reps
- If you need to rest a bit at the top of the squat do so
- That is your first workout
If that is not abbreviated or minimalist training, what is?
Take the next day off and the following day you will do 20 rep squats again.
However, you must add weight to the bar.
You cannot continue using the same weight.
Fractional plates are very useful in a 20 rep squat program because you can add as little as a half pound to your squat each training day.
These plates typically come with 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, and 1 pound weights.
As you gradually add weight, no matter how minuscule, you will likely feel exhausted by the end on one 20 rep set.
Take a rest, you earned it!
#9. Experiment with your stance
The width of your feet can have a significant impact on your squat performance.
Squat too narrow, and your quads end up doing all the work.
Squat too wide, and lack of hip or ankle mobility may mean you can’t get down to parallel.
Most strength training texts say that you should squat with your feet shoulder-width apart, but such a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t take into account your leg length, shoulder width, torso length, or height.
The only way to establish the correct squat stance is to experiment to find what works best for you.
A wider or narrower stance may suit you better.
A straightforward method for determining your ideal squat stance is to do a single squat jump and take note of where your feet land.
This will often be the biomechanically best foot position for squats.
If nothing else, this test will provide a useful starting point for future squat stance adjustments.
#10. Equip yourself correctly
You need a decent barbell, power or squat rack, and some weight plates to squat safely.
But, in addition, there are a few more items that will help you increase your squat.
While none of the following items are essential, they can be beneficial:
- Knee sleeves – for more joint stability
- Knee wraps – for increased rebound out of the hole
- Weightlifting belt – for more core stability
- Squat shoes – for a more stable base and better squat mechanics
- Lifting chalk – so the bar doesn’t slip
- Compression shorts – for increased lower body muscle activation
- Pre-workout – to increase workout energy and focus
- Resistance bands or chains – for increased overload at lockout
#11. Bulk up
One of the most surefire ways to increase your squat performance is to increase muscle size and body weight.
As powerlifters often say, it takes mass to lift mass.
So, if you really want to get stronger, you need to get bigger.
Of course, you CAN get stronger without gaining a whole lot of weight, but bulking up is one of the most reliable, rapid ways to increase strength.
Bulking up involves eating more – lots more!
Ideally, you should eat clean and fill up on healthy foods that are naturally high in calories.
Good bulking foods include:
- Potatoes and other starchy vegetables
- Whole grains and cereals
- Healthy fats, for example, olive oil, peanut butter, coconuts, avocados, etc.
- Weight gainer shakes (homemade or commercial)
Aim to consume 500 calories above maintenance every day to increase your muscle mass and body weight.
As you get heavier, your squat weight should also increase.
However, bulking invariably involves gaining both muscle and body fat, which may not be what you want from your workouts and diet.
How to Increase your Squat Weight Fast – Wrapping up
Squats are a great exercise for both men and women.
They can help you increase your muscle mass and strength, and reach your weight loss and fitness goals as well.
While you don’t have to try and squat progressively heavier weights, getting stronger can be very motivating.
It can be a real buzz to see the weights on your barbell squat increasing.
Squatting big weights will also increase your muscle size, especially if you combine low-rep powerlifting squats with medium-rep bodybuilding training – an approach known as powerbuilding.
But, if you DO decide to squat heavy, you MUST do your squats in a power rack with safety bars.
That way, if you cannot complete a rep, you won’t get crushed under a barbell with a heavy load.
Needless to say, failing during a squat can lead to severe injuries.
To a newbie exerciser, squats and deadlifts can look very similar.
After all, they are both compound movements; that involve bending your knees and can be utilized for building muscle and strength.
However, they are very different.
This article Deadlifts Vs Squat: Which is Better for Strength and Fitness will take a look at the distinctions between these two powerful lifts so you can select the best one for you.