4 Little Known Tips to Increase Your Squat

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Today’s guest post comes from a very good colleague of mine, Jordan Syatt.  Jordan actually interned for us at Cressey Performance a few years ago and since has gone on to do some pretty fantastic things in the industry.

Not only is he one of the more passionate coaches I’ve ever met, but he’s just an awesome human being.  There aren’t many people who are more genuine and gracious than Jordan.

I sincerely mean that.

Oh, and he’s also one strong son-of-a-bitch (no offense to Jordan’s mom.  She’s wonderful, too). My man deadlifts over 3x bodyweight, and he’s also an IPA World Record holder in the squat.

No big deal.

Jordan’s Elite Performance Squat Seminar went on sale this week, and to speak candidly…..it’s awesome. It’s two hours of anything and everything you’d need to know about the squat from someone who knows a thing or two about squatting.

Jordan was nice enough to write up some unique content for the site regarding some (not so common) tips that will help to increase/improve your squat.


I struggled with the squat for years.

No matter how hard I tried or how much I read, I just couldn’t pin-point which style worked best for me.

To make matters worse, I was beyond confused with the programming aspect. Some coaches were telling me to squat once per week while others told me to squat every day.

I was lost.

As the years went on, though, I eventually figured it out. Following my internships at Westside Barbell and Cressey Performance, I learned not only how to squat but, more importantly, how to adjust my technique and programming based on biomechanics, goals, and preferences.

Fast-forward 3 years and I’m currently an IPA Powerlifting World Record Holder, I raw squat 2.9x bodyweight, and have helped countless lifters improve their squats by hundreds of pounds.

In this article I’m going to share with you four little-known tips to help increase your squat as quickly as possible.

By the end you will understand the squat better than most strength coaches and be armed with four new tips to help you achieve your ultimate strength potential.

1. Drive the Floor Away From You

We’ve all heard popular squat cues like:

Head back!”

Chest Up!

Knee’s Out!

Cues like as these are known as internal focus cues because they force the lifter to focus on how the body moves in relation to itself.

While they aren’t completely useless, internal focus cues have been shown to be drastically less effective than their counterparts: external focus cues.

Note from TG:  For those interested, and who want to explore the rabbit hole a bit further, you can check out THIS article I wrote on internal vs. external cues.

Contrary to the former, external focus cues force the lifter to focus on how the body moves in relation to its environment. Take, for example, one of my all-time favorite cues:

Drive the floor away from you!

Rather than trying to move your body in relation to itself, this cue allows you to focus on moving your body relative to the environment.

On paper it might seem arbitrary, but research has consistently found external focus cues to be drastically more effective than cues with an internal focus.

So what does this mean for you?

When squatting, think about driving the floor away from yourself as hard and fast as humanly possible.

Don’t think about pushing into the ground or pressing as hard as possible.

Instead, try to push the floor away from you so forcefully that you leave a foot-print in the ground.

2. Nix the Box Squat

The box squat is overrated.

It’s great for geared lifters and doubles as a fantastic teaching tool but for intermediate & advanced raw lifters it’s a waste of time.

With my Westside background I know I’ll get a lot of flak for this but, in my experience, the box squat will not only do nothing to improve your squat…it will actually de-train it.

First and foremost, sitting on a box takes the stretch reflex out of the equation. While geared lifters don’t need to worry about this, raw lifters depend on the stretch shortening cycle (SSC) to rebound safely and explosively out of the hole.

Second, box squatting often changes the mechanics of the lift. Since geared lifters predominantly depend on the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, erectors), sitting back to a box is in their best interest. For raw lifters, however, it’s of the utmost importance to squat using a more knee-dominant approach that includes the quads. When performing box squats, though, most lifters focus entirely too much on maintaining a vertical tibia which reduces quad involvement and makes it less specific to raw squatting.

Plain and simple, if you aren’t a beginner and/or a geared lifter…nix the box squat.

3. Grip the Bar As Hard as Humanly Possible

Try it.

Next time you un-rack the bar and let it sink into your traps I want you to grip the bar as hard as you possibly can.

Tony has a great cue for this which works extremely well: “Try to melt the bar in your hands.”

^^^ Yep, I do use that one a lot.

Dean Somerset uses another good one: “Squeeze the bar so hard it oozes through your fingers like play dough.”

I’m more of a simpleton and stick with “Choke the bar,” but they all work.

Regardless of which cue you use, I guarantee if you squeeze the bar as hard as you possibly can you’ll immediately squat more weight.

Don’t believe me?

Give it a shot. I’ll be the guy laughing in the back of the gym saying “hate to say I told ya so!” even though I really love saying it.

4. Grip the Floor with Your Feet

Many powerlifters and coaches advocate squatting with all of your bodyweight centered directly under the heels. Some lifters take this to such an extreme that they literally pick all of their toes off the floor and visibly rock backwards to make sure they’re only on the heels.

I think that’s excessive.

While it’s important to keep some weight on the heels, it’s also important to create a stable base of support through using what’s called an “active foot.”

Watch this short clip to see what I mean:  CLICK ME!

As you saw in the video, an active foot only works if your bodyweight is centered on three points of contact: the knuckle under the big toe, the knuckle under the pinky toe, and the heel. This creates a tri-pod, of sorts, from which you can “grip the floor” with your feet.

To grip the floor, imagine centering your weight on the tripod while trying to pinch the floor in the middle of each foot. Done properly, you’ll stimulate the nerves of the feet while improving overall foot position to give you a stable base of support off of which you can squat more weight.

Wrapping Up

I hope you enjoyed this article and were able to take away some valuable information.

If you’re still looking for more information to improve your (or your clients) squat performance, my Elite Performance Squat Seminar covers all the topics mentioned above in more detail…..and then some!

In just under 2 hours I cover everything including:

  • Self Assessment and Correction
  • Technique Analysis
  • Progressions and Variations
  • Programming Considerations
  • And much more!

I legitimately cover every single thing you could ever want to know (and then some) related to the squat.

The best part?

For this week only the seminar is on sale for just $29! The sale only lasts until Friday (2/21) at midnight at which point the price will nearly double so if you really want to learn the secrets behind optimal squat performance don’t miss out – download your copy today!

Never Minimal. Never Maximal. Always Optimal.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.

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