How to Increase Your Squat By 100 Pounds in 10 Weeks
Update: Here is an old post I found about increasing your squat strength. I’m not sure that anyone ever really gave me much positive feedback on it, so I’m posting it again in case anyone wants to take a stab at putting 100 pounds on their squat in 10 weeks.
The squat is arguably the best exercise that any athlete can perform. Overhead press, bench press, and deadlifts rank right up there too, but I digress… No one wants to have a weak squat. To be considered ‘really strong’ you should be able to squat 2x your bodyweight.
Back in college I was regularly squatting 450 or so at a fluctuating bodyweight of 190-210 lbs. I have no genetic gifts when it comes to muscle size and strength. If I can lift 450 anyone can, so man up and put in some effort.
The goals of this workout plan are:
- Increase overall leg, lower back, and core strength
- Condition your cardiovascular system with high rep squats
- Add some girth to those thighs through higher rep hypertrophy of the quads and hams
- Spend some time really practicing and perfecting your squat form
- Develop power and speed with dynamic effort box squats
We will use the principles of progressive linear overload, high intensity training, breathing squat principles, and dynamic effort training to facilitate progress.
Complete just one squat workout per week.
Your form must be impeccable on all reps. It will not benefit anyone for you to train your squat with improper form.
Elements of proper barbell back squat form:
- Keep your head up at all times; it helps to focus on a point above your head when you are driving out of the hole.
- Keep your back straight at all times; if your back is rounding you should address this as a weak point in your training.
- Drive with your hips rather than just relying on your lower back or your quads. Your hips should essentially ‘thrust’ your body up into a standing position.
- Your legs should maintain a straight line, with toes pointed ever so slightly to the outside. If your knees buckle in or drift out, you should address this as a weak point in your training.
- If you are attempting to use the program by squatting in a smith machine, or anything other than barbell front squats or barbell back squats, don’t leave a comment and don’t try to contact me. I don’t even think you should be using this program until you are ready to start barbell squatting.
For more information on barbell back squats, read my article How to Squat.
When increasing your loads by a certain percentage, it’s alright to round up or down to the nearest number that’s easy to load with the weight plates you have. If you calculate that you need 232 pounds for a set, it is OK to use 230, and so on.
Don’t forget to eat properly. You should be consuming a healthy diet of lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and low glycemic carbs to keep your body healthy, energized, and recovered. Use proper post-workout nutrition and sip Gatorade, Biotest Surge, or some other drink with high GI carbs during your workout.
Breathing squats – a set of squats where you perform as many reps as you can comfortably, and then pause at the top of each subsequent rep by taking a couple deep breaths in order to re-energize your system. In this manner you should be able to double the number of reps you are capable of in each set, but the sets will also take 2-3 times as long too, so be prepared.
For all sets on all weeks, perform breathing squats as outlined above. With breathing squats, you do not rack the bar until the set is complete!
How to Increase Your Squat – The Training Plan
For all sets on all weeks, rest up to 90 seconds between sets.
Before you start this program you should record your current PR stats. You might want to record a 1, 3, 5, 10, or 20 rep max. You might also want to measure the circumference of your legs to see if they grow an inch or so. Whatever interests you.
Follow the following 10 week program exactly and you could increase your by squat 100 pounds:
- Perform 3 warm-up sets of no more than 3 reps, steadily increasing the weight with each set. Then choose a weight that you would normally be able to squat for no more than 10 reps and perform three sets of 12 breathing squats.
- Perform 3 warm-up sets of no more than 3 reps, and then add 5% to 10% to the load you used in Week 1. Perform 3 sets of 15 reps.
Example… if you used 200 pounds in Week 1 for 12 reps, you could use up to 220 pounds in Week 2, stopping briefly to take deep breaths after the 12th, 13th, and 14th rep in order to complete the set.
- Perform 3 warm-up sets of no more than 3 reps, and then add 5% to 10% to the load you used in Week 2. Perform 2 sets of 20 reps.
- Perform 3 warm-up sets of no more than 3 reps, and then add 10% to the load you used in Week 3. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps.
- Warm up with 4 sets of three reps per set, and then add 5% to the load you used in Week 4. Perform 3 sets of 15 reps.
- Warm up with 4 sets of two reps per set, and then add 5% to the load you used in Week 5. Perform 2 sets of 20 reps.
- Warm up with 4 sets of two reps per set, and then add 5% to the load you used in Week 6. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps.
- Warm up with 4 warm-up sets of three reps, and then add 5% to the load you used in Week 7. Complete 3 sets of 15 reps.
- Warm up with 4 warm-up sets of two reps, and then add 5% to the load you used in Week 8. Complete 2 sets of 20 reps.
- This should be an active recovery week. You can’t hope to continue to make linear progress forever, so take is easy this week and consider changing your workout plan to focus on a different goal after this week.
After the active recovery week, you should go ahead and test all those PR numbers that you recorded before you started the program.
If you follow these guidelines carefully, you could add 90-100 pounds to your 20-rep max squat in just over two months. Trust me when I say you will be improving all aspects of your conditioning by trying this working for just 2 months. Be prepared for a bit of initial Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) as this will shred your muscle fibers.
Dynamic Effort Box Squats
Do you use dynamic effort box squats? If you don’t, you should. Dynamic effort squatting utilizes a lighter load so that you can generate maximal speed and power when driving out of the hole.
Use dynamic effort box squats once a week, 2-3 days before your the max effort squat program described above.
Do 9 sets of 3 reps as fast as possible with 50-55% of your max squat. There should be no pause at the bottom or top. Every rep moves as fast as possible under control.
You want to squat down onto a box that allows your hips to drop as low as, if not lower than, your knees. You are not sitting on the box for any length of time. Squat down, touch, and go! The concentric motion should be an explosive hip drive off the box back to the standing position.
For those using a full body workout routine, you should do the max effort program on Monday, deadlifts and some lunges on Wednesday, and the dynamic effort routine on Friday.
It is always a great idea to incorporate bands and chains into your dynamic effort training.