Article by Deanna Gerdesmeier Photo by 10Leaves
It’s no secret that the GWPL community loves to squat. Between what it does to our backsides, (Ladies amIright? #PeachGang ) and the fact that it’s a competition movement which trains multiple muscle groups, squats are a girl’s best friend. Primary movers in your squat include your quads, glutes, and hips. Squatting also works the upper and lower back, hamstrings, and calves as secondary movers. That’s a lot of work.
This article will address common sticking points and ways to train through those with your accessory work. Myself, I tend to be a “Weak in the Knees” squatter. What’s your sticking point? Do you have any other ideas that have worked for you? Comment below or on Instagram and tell us!
If when you miss a squat because you can’t get up from the bottom of the hole, then your weakness probably is stemming from a speed issue. You can train through these issues a few ways. Training with Paused Squats (Another pause Squat video) or Pin/Anderson Squats are great ways to teach your body to keep constant tension and train reversing the movement from a dead-stop.
Another potential problem if you find yourself stuck in the hole is you may have too slow of an eccentric contraction. When you’re moving eccentrically – Lengthening of muscles while maintaining contraction, or controlling the weight of against gravity during your decent in a squat, there is a point at the bottom of the lift your muscle build of an elastic tension or “stretch reflex.” This can be used to spring through your sticking point. This does not mean you can dive bomb, but maybe descend a little faster. I would also suggest using knee sleeves in competition to get a little bit of extra bounce.
Stuck In the Middle With You
Once you come out of the hole and start the concentric contraction, or shortening of the muscle while contracting – which happens during the upward movement against gravity in your squat; there is another sticking point about halfway between the bottom of the lift and lockout. Typically we see the lifter start to shift forward as they slow down and fail the lift. That forward tilt is typically a sign of quad weakness as the lifter is shifting their prime movers to their hips and low back which to compensate for weaker quads. (Please note that some lifters squat with more forward lean based on their limb lengths – Someone with a quad weakness will usually their bar path drift forward toward the toes.) Great movements to fix imbalances in quads are front squats, high-bar squats, leg-press, and hack squats.
Weak In The Knees
The last of the most common sticking point results from a glute strength issue. You’ll notice that a lifter’s knees will start to cave in about half-way up in the squat. If a lifter struggles to keep their knees in line with their foot during the concentric movement, their glutes, specifically the gluteus medius, are probably in need of some additional work. Some of the best ways to correct this issue is through direct glute work and using technique work with lighter weight for high volume. You can also use a light band around your knees to help cue the correct pattern.
Now, go through your squat vids (If you don’t video your sessions, you should start now!) and look to see where your weak points are. Are you a Hole-y Moly Squatter? Stuck in the middle? Or weak in the knees like me? Do you have different accessory work I missed that has helped your squat? Comment below or on Instagram and tell us what’s worked for you!
Further reading: Greg Nuckols article with hamstring in squat
Deanna Gerdesmeier is an elite 84KG+ USAPL powerlifter. With a 425kg total.