One of the fundamental training principles is called the SAID principle, the abbreviation SAID stands for specific adaptations to imposed demands.

So, if you want to have a stronger Back Squat, you need to Back Squat!

Step 1: Set your goal

How much more would you like to Back Squat and what is a realistic time frame? From my experience, our younger and less experienced athletes (they can squat their body weight) the sky really is the limit, they can make improvements of 20 – 50% within 12 weeks.

For our more experienced athletes (who can squat more than 1.5 times their body weight), they can make improvements of 5 – 10% in 12 weeks.

For the really experienced athletes (who can squat more than 2 times their body weight) the margin is small. They are happy, if they improve from 195 kg to 200kg or from 215 kg to 222.5 kg (this are real cases). So we are talking 2 – 5% increases.

These numbers are a guideline, not a rule. I hope it can help you to set realistic expectations.

Step 2: Clean up your Back Squat Technique

The first step is to get your Back Squat technique right, you simply can’t squat heavy, if your technique is flawed!

If you are unsure, how to Back Squat correctly, have a look at the video and explanation How to do a Back Squat

Just by cleaning up your technique, you will experience that you are able to lift more weight, without necessarily getting stronger. Getting stronger will come in the next steps.

Step 3: Detect your sticking point

Usually, your sticking point will fall into one of the three positions

  • Bottom position
  • Mid-range
  • End position

The easiest way to detect your sticking point is through a 1RM (repetition maximum) test, a prerequisite for that is that you have proper Back Squat technique (see step 1) and are experienced with 1RM testing.

During the 1RM test, you will immediately see, which position is most difficult for you. Because this is where you will get stuck and miss the lift.

If you are not familiar with high intensities and 1RM testing, I would advise you to seek out for help. Get an experienced coach or training partner, who can evaluate your Back Squat form and give you the feedback. You can also go to platforms like Reddit or other forums and ask others for advice.

Step 4: Attack your sticking point

Once you know where your sticking point is, you need to find the appropriate exercises to attack the sticking point.

Remember the SAID principle, so all exercises we chose will still be Back Squat variations!

For the majority of athletes and people the sticking point will be the bottom position and usually, they descend into a full squat, will come up a few centimeters and then fail. In this case, you can choose for

Paused Back Squats:

  • descend into the full Squat position and hold the full Squat position for 2 – 3 seconds
  • hold the full Squat position for 2 – 3 seconds
  • ascend into start & end position

1.5 repetitions Back Squat:

  • descend into the full Squat position
  • ascend half way (usually to 100 – 120 degree knee angle)
  • descend back into the full Squat position
  • ascend into start & end position

Have a look at an example of 1.5 repetitions in the video below

If the sticking point is in the mid-range, the athlete usually descends into a full squat, will come up half way to a knee angle of 90 – 100 degrees (definitely above a parallel position) will literally get stuck (he or she will try hard and push, but the bar just won’t move) and then fail. In this case, you can choose for

Back Squats from the rack:

  • Put the bar on the exact height of your sticking point in the rack
  • Position yourself under the bar
  • ascend into start & end position

Heavy Half Back Squats

  • descend into the full Squat position
  • hold the Half Squat position for a second
  • ascend into start & end position
  • a Half Squat refers to a knee angle of 90 – 100 degrees knee flexion, you can find more information on the different classifications of a Full Squat, Half Squat or a Quarter Squat in the article The Fundamentals of the Back Squat

Back Squats with accommodated resistance

  • descend into the full Squat position
  • ascend into start & end position
  • Important: adjust the chains and bands that they offer the resistance in the sticking point, the biggest mistake here is to adjust the bands (or chains) so that they offer the extra resistance after the sticking point

Have a look at an example of accommodated resistance in the video below

 

In very rare cases, the sticking point is at the end position. The athlete usually descends into a full squat, will come up to a knee angle of 120 or more degrees and can just not fully lock-out.

In this case, you can choose for

Back Squats from the rack:

  • Put the bar on the height of your sticking point in the rack (usually 120 degrees knee angle)
  • Position yourself under the bar
  • ascend into start & end position

Heavy Quarter Back Squats (a Quarter Squat refers to a knee angle of 120 degrees knee flexion)

  • descend into the full Squat position
  • hold the Half Squat position for a second
  • ascend into start & end position

Back Squats with accommodated resistance

  • descend into the full Squat position
  • ascend into start & end position
  • Important: adjust the chains and bands that they offer the resistance in the sticking point at 120 degrees

Back Squats with accommodated resistance (with reverse bands)

  • Attach the bands at the top of the rack and adjust it to the bar
  • descend into the full Squat position
  • ascend into start & end position

A video example will follow, the benefit of the reverse resistance bands are, that the athlete will get the feeling for how it feels to have a heavier load on his back than he or she is used to (the technical term is supra-maximal resistance).

The options are not limited to these exercises, there are much more exercises that can be used. Important is, that the exercise you chose is congruent with what you want to achieve. It needs to fulfill the purpose of what you want to achieve.

Step 5: Plan and execute

Strength Training Back Squat Power Clean Front Squat

You have polished your Back Squat technique, you detected your weak point and know how to attack your sticking point with the appropriate Back Squat variations. Now you need to plan the work and then work the plan.

What does that mean?

Pretty straightforward, there is no point going into your next training and train ‘aimlessly’ with the exercise that is supposed to help you overcome your sticking point. You need to carefully plan that over at least 2 cycles of 4 weeks of training.

12 week Back Squat Training Plan Strength Training

12 week Back Squat Training Plan

This is an example  how a training could look like for an athlete with the sticking point in the bottom position. A 12 week plan, with 2 sessions a week. In session 1 the athlete trains regular Back Squats and in session 2 the Paused Back Squat. Intensity increases over 3 weeks and the 4th week is an unloading week. In week 11 the athlete tests the Back Squat 1RM.

Step 6: Evaluate

Did you get a stronger Back Squat?

Did you accomplish your goal you have set in Step 1?

If you did, what worked well? What are the lessons learned?

If you didn’t, what did not work? What are the lessons learned and what are you going to do differently?

I personally think and evaluation can be short and precise and you don’t need to overthink and overanalyze. Compare the goals you set out with what you achieved and draw your conclusions.

Step 7: Repeat

Use the lessons you have learned and repeat the cycle. For us, the Back Squat is a means to an end, which means our priority is the performance in competition and we schedule our strength training around the competitions calendar. Consequently, we repeat this cycle once or twice in a year.

Concluding How To Get A Stronger Back Squat

In order to get a stronger Back Squat, you need to Back Squat.

If follow these simple steps, you will get a stronger Back Squat for sure.

  • Set a goal
  • Clean up your Back Squat technique
  • Detect your sticking point
  • Attack your sticking point
  • Plan and execute
  • Evaluate
  • Repeat

More information on the Back Squat:

The Fundamentals of the Back Squat

Increasing your Back Squat – How much and how often to Squat

How to do a Back Squat

Why Back Squat

What Is A Back Squat

Back Squat video library