Squats are a great exercise for everyone. Adding weights turns them into power squats, which builds strength from top to toe.
Anyone can do a power squat, if done correctly and taken slowly.
One of the attractions of power squats are their simplicity. Just you and a barbell, battling against gravity. It’s also very rewarding, albeit incredibly demanding, and physically transformative. You will improve flexibility and strength in your knees, work out your legs, core and upper body, and develop your range of motion for other activities.
For the power squat it’s recommended to keep the bar in a straight line above the hips, which is best for leverage. The best way to do this is to use the ‘Low Bar’ placement. This also allows you to lift more weight. If you’re unsure where to place the bar, here’s the difference between high-bar and low-bar squats.
Experiment between grips to see how they feel. Narrow grips tend to demand more upper body power, but may allow you to squat deeper. Wider hand placement may suit you if you have shoulder problems, and it can feel more stable. Our advice - go with what’s most comfortable.
Nice and simple – head up, shoulders back, chest out. This helps avoid injury by keeping the spine erect. Some people find it helpful to find an imaginary spot straight ahead of them when standing up and keeping their eye fixed to that spot as they move up and down.
Again, you can go wide or narrow. Your best bet may be to start from shoulder-width apart then experiment until you find a stance where you can perform a squat without any weight with good form. The main thing is to feel comfortable. Pointing your feet out at a 45 degree angle is always a good idea.
How far down to squat? How fast? It’s usually suggested you don’t go any lower than parallel (where the top of the thigh is level with the knee). This avoids stressing the knee ligaments and cartilage. In terms of speed, it really is down to your own athletic abilities. As long as it’s controlled, you’re ok.
It’s best to avoid trainers for power squats as they may allow lateral shifting of weight and twisted ankles – ouch! The best shoes are specifically designed weightlifting shoes with a solid base. Get yourself a wide belt to support your back, but only use it during heavier sets to allow your abs to build up strength in beltless sets.
Knee wraps are another standard piece of squatting equipment you don’t want to be without. As well as dramatically improving knee safety during lifting, they can also increase your lifting power by 5-10%. Make sure you wrap your knees for squats correctly, and aim to only use them when you can perform 5 reps of heavier weights.
Now you’re ready to perform your first power squat! Remember to let us know how you get on.
I would say power squats are a must-do exercise. I my opinion it's one of the best exercises out there for building strength.