WSBB Blog: Overcoming Common Sticking Points in the Squat

WSBB Education
Tue Jul 06, 2021

Squatting is one of the most familiar human movements we perform on a regular basis. However, once a loaded barbell is placed onto the shoulders, what was an easy to accomplish movement suddenly presents problems our body must solve. The squat has the ability to expose lower body weakness unlike any other lower body focused exercise can, and for this reason it is extremely valuable.

Using the squat to identify and correct lower body weaknesses not only has a positive effect on your squat, it can have a positive effect on your deadlift as well. Below, we will cover a few easy to apply solutions for common issues lifters experience when squatting a barbell.

Missing in the Hole 

Getting buried at the bottom of a squat is not only embarrassing, it can be dangerous as well. You really don’t want your training partner seeing you hit the floor, and you definitely don’t want to get scalped by a barbell. A common mistake lifters make with their technique is taking air into their diaphragm improperly, or not taking in air at all. This results in the chest dropping in the hole when you’re trying to reverse the movement of the barbell, which is then followed by your hips leading the lift and you falling forward.

If you are taking air in correctly, but still missing from the bottom position of your squat, it is time to move onto attacking common weaknesses. Beltless squats and sumo deadlifts are great exercises to train yourself to not only breathe and brace correctly, but to have the strength to maintain that brace throughout the lift. Anderson style squatting is also a great strategy to employ when trying to increase strength in the lower portion of the squat.

Missing Halfway

The most common place for experienced lifters to miss a squat is at the halfway point when the posterior chain is working to continue elevating the barbell to allow the pelvis to travel forward and the weight to be locked out. The reason this sticking point is so common is because it is the point that all lifters typically miss when the weight is too heavy. When you are an intermediate or experienced lifter, you generally have a good idea how to create a good amount of rebound speed during your squat. However, when the weight gets a little too heavy you will find yourself unable to get through the second half of the squat. Luckily, there is an easy solution to this issue, good mornings.

The good morning is the king of all posterior chain exercises, and if you are experiencing issues at the halfway point of your squat and need to add on some lower back, glute, and hip strength you can’t choose a better exercise. Good mornings can be done as either a main or accessory exercise. Using the different specialty bars such as the giant cambered bar and the SSB, work up to top sets of three to five reps when used for max effort. When used as an accessory exercise, we recommend three to five sets of eight to ten reps.

Falling at the Top

Rocking back or falling forward at the top of a squat can be caused by a few things. Most commonly, a lifter has either squatted the weight too fast or they have lost their brace. This issue is generally a trunk/core issue, and can be addressed through both squat variations and specific accessory exercises.

Chain squats with the chain properly attached to the barbell with just a few links touching the floor is a great way to purposely make the bar wobble, forcing the lifter to brace harder and reduce the movement of the barbell. Along with getting stronger through the use of accommodating resistance, you can also focus on your abdominal training to increase your ability to brace. By being able to maintain an extremely strong brace, your abdomen muscles are able to overcome the movement of the barbell on your back and maintain control.