9 Little-Known Tips to Improve Your Squat: Part 1

by Jordan Syatt February 17, 2014

Everyone wants a massive squat.

Powerlifters, bodybuilders, fitness enthusiasts…hell, even the highest level shake weight certified specialists (SWCS) are always on the lookout for the next best thing to squat more weight.

Disclaimer: I may or may not have lied in the previous sentence.

Falsehoods aside, you want to squat more than everyone else in your gym and this article series will help you do exactly that.

Over the course of the next week I’m going to release 3 separate articles outlining a total of 9 little-known tips to improve your squat.

Pay attention because most of these tips you may have never heard, each of which could drastically increase your squat.


Let’s begin.

1. Faster Down, Faster Up

As the weight on the bar gets heavier it’s a common response to slow the [eccentric] movement down in an attempt to safely control the weight.

Don’t let this happen.

Obviously you want to control the weight safely and effectively but going down too slowly will drastically hurt your squat. Not only will it reduce the positive effects of the stretch shortening cycle (SSC) helping to re-bound out of the hole, a reduction in speed often results in a subsequent reduction in force.

Obviously not what we’re going for when trying to squat more weight.

Focus on moving the bar as fast as possible while maintaining control and perfect technique throughout the entire lift. If needed, film an entire squat session and take note of drastic reductions in speed (during the lowering portion of the lift) as the weight gets heavier. If it does, you need to practice lowering the bar faster to get the most out of your squat.

Remember: faster down, faster up.

2. Choke the Bar

Seriously, choke it.

One of the best, albeit most commonly overlooked, cues that I’ve ever used, try to choke the bar throughout the entire lift.

As soon as you un-rack the weight and let it sink into your traps, imagine squeezing every last breath out of the bar…assuming it could breathe, of course.

As you descend your grip will probably loosen a bit but, as you drive back up, squeeze the bar as hard as humanly possible.

Often times this trick alone will be enough to plow through your sticking point and hit a new personal record.

Don’t believe me?

Give it a shot.

I guarantee you squat more weight on your very first attempt.

There’s a variety of possible explanations as to why this works, but I subscribe to the belief that squeezing the bar helps to generate more total body tension which, in turn, increases overall strength.

Regardless of why, it works like a charm so give it a shot – you won’t be disappointed.

3. Spread the Floor Apart

We’ve all heard the popular cue, “knees out!

Truth be told, I hate it.

I’ll use it occasionally with advanced lifters who truly understand how to implement it effectively but, for most people, it’s a waste of time.

Rather than cue my lifter’s to force their “knees out” (an internal focus cue), I prefer to use the external focus cue, “spread the floor apart.

As you saw in the video, through visualizing yourself spreading the floor apart you can generate obscene amounts of total body tension, increase friction force, and subsequently squat heavier weight.

What’s incredible to me is how a few simple words can drastically change the effectiveness of your squat.

Despite being often overlooked, cues are an integral component of performance and something I work to improve upon with my lifters every single day.

Unfortunately, most people have no idea which cues work best which is why I devoted a large portion of my newest resource, The Elite Performance Squat Seminar, to teaching the most effective cues.

Cover Photo  2

Clocking in at just under 2-hours, this seminar is bar-none the most comprehensive resource ever created on squat performance. Postural assessments, technique analyses, programming considerations, and more…the exclusive information provided in this seminar will drastically improve your squat.
Build Your Strongest Squat with The Elite Performance Squat Seminar! 

If you enjoyed this article you won’t want to miss the next 2 parts of the series so stay tuned for more info coming your way!

Never Minimal. Never Maximal. Always Optimal.


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