Dr. Layne Norton has spent years refining his squat technique. Follow his coaching tips and cues, learn how to squat, and you someday could be the proud owner of monster legs!
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I used to be that guy with chicken legs. Why? Because I didn’t squat. I made up every excuse I could think of to get out of squatting: they’re bad for the knees, they’re bad for the back, they’re hard. I escaped squats by doing every other leg exercise I could think of, but my legs were still tiny.
One day I had an epiphany. I was sick of having little legs, so I made a goal to squat over 500 pounds for reps. I assumed that amount of weight would give me the big legs I wanted. After years and years of work and learning proper technique and programming, I did squat over 500 pounds for reps. Today, my one-rep max (1RM) is 655 pounds. I’m happy to report that, after all that work and all that weight, my legs are no longer twigs.
If you want big legs, there’s one rule: you gotta squat! Don’t go running to the nearest rack without watching this video first. I’m going to teach you tips and techniques I’ve learned over the years from working with some of the top coaches in the world, guys like powerlifter Ben Esgro, USAPL World Team Head Coach Matt Gary, and Dr. Mike Zourdos. They will help you squat big weights more safely and effectively.
HOW TO SQUAT EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO CONSIDER
Equipment can make a big difference in your squat performance, especially when you’re under a lot of weight. Here are a few things you can put on that can make you a better squatter.
The purpose of a tennis shoe is to distribute your weight evenly and to cushion your foot. But, in a squat, you’re pushing down against the earth. Physics dictate that the earth presses back up. If you use a cushioned shoe, you’ll lose some of that energy transfer. It’s also going to make you unstable. Those of you who do squat in sneakers may find that your knees cave in and that you feel wobbly.
At minimum, you need to use a hard-soled shoe. Converse All-Stars are a great choice. I also like weightlifting shoes. The great thing about weightlifting shoes is that they have a hard sole and an elevated heel.
The elevated heel puts you in a more ergonomic position for squatting, allowing you to push of your heel and mid-foot better.
A sturdy weight belt can make a huge difference in your squat. A good belt will give your core something to brace against, will protect your lower back, and will keep you more upright.
The rumor that wearing a belt will weaken your core is just plain wrong. Research shows that wearing a belt will actually give you more core activation because it provides your core with something to push against.
Most people wear their belts too low. A lifting belt doesn’t go around your waist, but around where your abdominal wall will push out. So, find where your abdominal wall pushes out, and then put your belt around that area.
I recommend buying a sturdy, buckle belt that’s at least 10-13 millimeters thick and 4 inches wide.
KNEE WRAPS OR SLEEVES
Knee wraps and sleeves help keep your knees warm and provide some extra support. I prefer knee sleeves to wraps because they’re quicker and easier to get on and off, and there’s some evidence that wraps can put too much pressure on the patella.
I also like to know that it’s me moving the weight, and that I’m not getting a PR because of knee wraps.