Ever since I was in high school I’ve been really into bodybuilding. And of course, like any other 14 year old beginning to lift weights, my prime motivation was to impress the girls. I soon began to see results in the form of actually being able to do a good amount of push-ups and instantly I was hooked. Up until a couple months ago, I wasn’t to into powerlifting. I would still do squats occasionally but that’s as close as I would get to powerlifting. Because of a couple friends, I began to really immerse myself in powerlifting and in 3 months I increased my squat by 85 lbs. So for those of you interested into getting into powerlifting these next 3 months, here’s how I increased my squat….
Here’s how I did it:
1. Find a solid program that has been proven to show results
From talking to other powerlifters, I kept hearing over and over again people mention the squat program by Smolov. I wasn’t too sure seeing as the claims to see surprising results in such a short of time was a little unbelievable.
To my surprise, I kept seeing guys post their progress videos and be absolutely ecstatic about the results. But I really wanted to see more so I went on Instagram and looked up #smolovsquats and immediately saw me and women of all sizes and ages increasing their squat consistently.
So, I knew that I would not have to reinvent the wheel and that others like me have gotten incredible results. All that was left was to put in the hours.
Here is the program that I used.
2. Foam roll and stretch
You’re going to be putting a lot of weight on your body. You’re going to need to stretch really well. I cannot stress this enough. Trust me, you’ll thank me later. Here are some stretches that I think will help you to really help with your flexibility and mobility. To do this you can just get a regular foam roller. I never knew how to tight my hips were until after I first foam rolled. My hips felt loose like never before. I felt more flexible and much more in control of my movement.
3. Warm up properly
I’ve noticed time and time again that most of my injuries in the weight room happen due to mistakes done even before lifting a single weight. That’s right: the warm up. Although it may be tedious to do this every single time (trust me, I feel for you), it will only benefit you ten fold in the long run. You’ll find that by warming up to your working set, you’ll be able to do more compared to not having warmed up. I like to follow a sequence for warming up and my working sets. It’s quite simple and easy to remember:
- Start with the bar and do 10-15 reps
- Do 55-60% of the weight you’ll be using in your working set and do 8 reps
- Do 70-75% of your working set for 5 reps
- Do 80-85% of the weight you’ll be using for 3 reps
- Do 90-95% of working set to do just one rep
- You are now ready to start your workout
CAUTION: Do NOT rush through this sequence. Focus on your form.
4. Fix your form
The easiest way to increase your numbers significantly is by making a few small tweaks to your form because the results will be significantly noticeable. The way to do this is to record yourself doing a couple reps or so. But, of course, you need something to compare your video to. Instead of me giving you a very detailed 1000 word description of what it’s supposed to look like, I’m going to give you something better: a video of the correct form.
5. Find your max
Okay, so you’ve fixed your form already and now it is safe to put on heavier weight. You don’t want to start putting 25 lbs on that bar but rather small increments until you can only do 1 rep. Be sure that every time you’re attempting your max, you give it it 100%. You might find that what you thought was your 100% will be tested by the weight on that bar and you’ll be able to do much more than you thought!
IMPORTANT: The more weight you put on, the more noticeable any imbalances or errors in your form will appear.
6. Find your sticking points
As you begin to do more and more squats you will notice that you seem to struggle with certain parts of the squat. This is completely normal. Depending on what part of the squat, you will have to do certain auxiliary exercises. For example, if you have trouble coming up from the bottom of your squat, just lower the weight and practice going low and exploding up. Essentially, you want to hone in the part of the movement that you’re struggling with and practice being explosive in that specific portion of the movement.
7. Train with, or around, stronger people
I think that the most progress I’ve had was when I trained at an actual powerlifting gym. It was the biggest motivation mainly because there were so many people that were so much stronger than me that it pushed me to do better every single rep. No one wants to look the weakest link. When you surround yourself with those who are stronger than you, you immediately get feedback for any mistakes that you might be making and you’ll cut your learning curve by a lot, trust me on this one.
I’ve noticed that having a support group truly elevates your game. It brings you up faster and prevents from slacking off because you’re now accountable to someone else and the last thing that people want to do is disappoint others. We inherently seek for approval, not only from ourselves but mostly from others. Knowing this, you can use this to your advantage and verbalize what your goals are. Say it out loud and let everyone know. This way, you have no choice but to make it happen.
I hope these tips have been helpful because these last couple of months have taught me so much and I wanted to share this with you in hopes that you will see tremendous progress in the gym to the point where people will ask you how you did it! Even if you’re barely starting to get into lifting. Don’t be scared. No one is judging, especially not the people in your support group trying to help you.
Do something a little uncomfortable and the results will be in your favor.