If the squat is considered the king of all lifts, why are most people terrible and weak at it?
In this article, I will lay out a useful strategy for improving your squatting strength and technique. If you are a novice athlete, have taken a long layoff from squatting, or aren’t confident in the lift as a whole, this article is for you.
Option 1: Increase your squat training volume
You’ll need to check your ego at the door for this first option.
During a training session with squats, try dropping the weight and increasing the total reps each set. You should still use a load that’s heavy enough to be challenging during the last few reps of each set, but light enough where you can complete every rep in every set with excellent form.
A great starting point is 2 sets of 20 reps.
If you periodize and progress your training correctly, you can quickly work up to 3 or 4 sets of 20 reps. From there, you should have a sufficient base of squatting reps to slowly increase the weight while decreasing the total reps per set.
Obviously, you won’t be using gut-wrenching, ball-busting weights for this kind of scheme, but the foundation a high-rep squatting protocol lays for your technique and confidence with the lift will set you up for longterm training success once you start moving into more traditional set and rep combinations.
Option 2: Increase your squat training frequency
One of the fastest ways to learn a new skill, or improve on an existing skill, is simply to do it more.
Unfortunately, with the prevalence of bodybuilding-style body part splits (separate days for muscle groups), too many young athletes are only training their lower bodies once a week.
You will have very stagnant results if you adopt this strategy during the early years of your training.
Instead, make sure you hit each area of the body at least twice per week. The easiest way to do this for a young athlete is to follow a three-days-per-week full body program.
Squatting twice (or even three times) per week is ideal for young trainees. By exposing yourself to the squat more often, you build confidence and resiliency in the movement. And you don’t necessarily need to use a traditional barbell back squat every single time – what’s important is that you are addressing squatting movement pattern multiple times per week instead of just once.
Option 3: Increase BOTH your volume and frequency
Yes, you can employ both of the strategies above to effectively supercharge your squat. This works best when you are new to the movement, or seriously lack technique and strength.
By increasing the volume and frequency of squatting, you can accumulate a very large total number of reps in a short time. If you squat two times per week (in any variation) for 3 sets of 20 reps, by the end of a month you will have performed 480 working reps of the squat.
That’s a lot of practice, and an amazing base to continue building your squat with more advanced programming, progressions, and periodization.
Want a fully progressed squatting protocol that can take you from an absolute beginner to a strong and savvy athlete? Our 20-week high school baseball training program uses the exact same principles as the article (with periodized set and rep schemes) as well as progressions for over 30 other families of exercises.