Use your quads when you squat!
Disclaimer – There is more than one way to skin a cat, all exercises are just tools, tools that coaches can use to help there clients or athletes work toward specific goals. I am aiming to increase peoples squat with the goal of increasing a persons Snatch or Clean and Jerk. This involves an upright trunk with minimal lean forward.
The Olympic squat, high bar squat or back squat is one of my favorite tools to use to increase a persons leg strength, predominantly anterior chain strength. In this day an age we are very posterior chain focused, this is definitely for many positive reasons, which I won’t be going into today.
Today we will be focused on increasing your quad strength. I don’t mention the glutes only because with a lot of clients it varies due to their anthropometry. A high percentage will struggle to grow their glutes with high bar squats. If I was trying to grow a person’s glutes using squats, I would use more of a hybrid version similar to the low bar. I would not use with my weightlifters, instead I would use RDL’s, back extensions or pulls.
So why are quads important to weightlifters? Many reasons, in no particular order let’s go through over a couple:
- Knee extension is very important for weightlifters, due to the weight being further forward than say a deadlift the pull off the floor is very quad dominant.
- Positional strength, weightlifters need to hold certain positions while keeping the right muscles involved. The Squat (along with pulls) helps to increase this positional strength.
I give a brief explanation of keeping your knee’s over your toes for as long as you can. By keeping your knee over your toe for longer it helps keep your quads engaged and your trunk more upright. If your knee’s go back too quickly your trunk will be pitched forward, due to the weight sitting so high up on your back this then places a higher load on your low back (some could argue posterior chain) taking the load off your quads. If you never fail a squat by leaning to far forward or always get buried and just can’t stand up my suggestion would be to increase your low back/glute strength. This is something I see very little of, I see a lot more of people leaning too far forward in the squat due to having a stronger back than quads.
So the next time your squatting with the aim of getting bigger quads, trying to increase your snatch or CJ or improving mobility aim to use your quads more. By keeping your trunk more upright and your knees over your toe’s for longer.