As I keep mentioning I recently hit a plateau with my squat, my progressive overload did not increase, and I was stumped. I had not encountered this problem before and it caused the end of many squat sessions. A change was needed and much research followed- I eventually found a few exercises that were commonplace in blogs and articles covering the solution. Today I will share them with you.
1. The Split Squat
This a unilateral (single leg) exercise either performed with dumbbells or a barbell. It takes the basis of the squat and uses it to gain not only strength throughout your quads, hamstrings and glutes but it also heavily incorporates your abdominal muscles- this is due to the fact that all the weight is passing through one leg forcing you to account for trunk flexion and trunk rotation. To perform a simple split squat make sure the back foot is raised- it doesn’t really matter how much, but the higher the back foot the more hip orientated the exercise will be. Here is a little picture of the exercise…
2. The Box Squat
The box squat was developed and is used heavily by the powerlifters and training at Westside Barbell. Known for their strange training methods the box squat is no different. The box squat is very similar to the back squat- with the set up and position under the bar the same- however, there is one fundamental difference… Instead of going the full way down on the squat you sit down on a box at parallel or a little below parallel. To be very clear this is not a muscle building exercise, it is not a strength exercise it is in fact an exercise to practise the power transfer in the squat. As you go down in the squat you do not let the weight take you, you use your muscles in your quads, hamstrings, glutes and abs to do so. Then you suddenly need to change the direction of the force to force the weight upwards. The box squat trains this transfer of power.
3. Pause squats
Much like the previous exercise this practises proper form and the transfer of power at the bottom of the squat. Just set up like a normal back squat, although it can be done with other squat forms, and squat down until you reach your preferred depth. Then hold it for 3 seconds if your a beginner up until 6 or 7 seconds if your more advanced. This a little more knee friendly than the box squats and so can still be done if your are coming out of knee tendinopathy or a knee injury.