The ONE Problem That Will Keep You From Squatting Heavy

Posted on 05 Jan 2016 18:57

By Eric Troy

You want a heavy squat but you just can't seem to add any weight to the bar. I can guarantee that it is because of one common problem that almost all squatters have. Once you fix this one problem you will be on your way to multiple squat PR's in no time!

Don't worry, I'll put in an anatomical diagram to prove I know what I am talking about. But let me explain how this one problem affects your squat, and why you need me to help you solve it.

The problem with your squat, most likely, is that you have no problem. What's more, you don't need me to solve your problem that you don't have. Did I subvert your expectations? I just did the opposite of effective marketing. I told you that you didn't have a burning problem to solve and that I didn't have a solution to the burning problem you do not have.

The majority of strength training or fitness articles by fitness professionals that aim to explain to you your big problem are made up or imagined by said professionals. Why do they do it?

Because if there is no problem to solve, there is no demand for their "services." If everybody came to the conclusion that there was not some single but obscure problem that was holding back their squat, or any other lift, then the online careers of many a fitness pro would be over. They can't show you how to squat. They cannot help you with training methods to get that squat moving and keep it moving as the weight mounts up. Yet, if you look around, you'll probably find folks on forums and other social media who can, if they are not drowned out by the marketing messages.

See, in order to make you believe that you need me to help you solve your problem, I first have to convince you that you have a problem. Yet, nobody seems to notice they are being convinced that they have a problem that they did not have before reading an article or going to some fitness trainer. It is a bit amazing if you think about it. Because of technical jargon, the copious use of anatomical drawings, and proof from studies, readers think that they are reading an explanation about how squatting, or some other exercise, works, and how to improve it. But they are not. They are reading what amounts to fitness slight-of-hand.

Let's say you were thinking about how you could get a PR on the squat today. You might have been thinking, what's the problem here? You realize that it could be a thousand different things because you have been lead to believe in the past that there are thousands of potential problems in getting a big lift. So, you see, there is already some latent demand for a "solution."

But, you have only defined a need or a desire. You just want a bigger squat. You have not yet defined the problem. Since you don't have a clue, but you REALLY want that big squat, you are primed to become the next victim of a fitness bullshitter who will send you down another blind alley in an industry full of blind alleys. And you will have no problem finding information about the ONE thing you are not doing that is the SECRET, without which you are doomed to failure.

One thing I figured out years ago is that many people believe that if their solution to a problem works, this is proof that their explanation for why the problem occurs is sound. It is not. However, most of their solutions do not work. Why? Because instead of actually focusing on the problem, they have redefined the problem or created a new problem out of whole cloth. The problem is "I can't add weight to the bar." The problem becomes "I need an expert corrective exercise routine." This tactic of redefining a problem to create or cement a demand is a key to the careers of many of the top internet fitness personalities.


You Don't Need This Diagram for Squatting
Image by Beth ohara via wikimediaImage Credit

You see, there are many ways to skin a cat, but none of those ways will make you an expert on cat hides.

If you really want to know the biggest problem most people have with their squat, or any other lift, it is that they spend too much time looking for the one big problem they have! They read article after article outlining all sorts of esoteric problems, try all sorts of quite involved solutions to problems they never new they had, and do this for years, never achieving that big squat.

Usually, the solution is that you need to spend less time with "interventions" designed to fix what is broken (nothing is broken and you don't need "correcting") and more time squatting. I think that many people will feel like this is the same as saying they need to work harder. And, in a way, it is. However, it is much more simple and effective than messing around with funny stretches and weird gadgets or outlandish exercise moves for months and months in the hopes that somehow, a miracle will occur, and you'll just start pumping out PR's.

I am not saying that there are not common problems that happen with people's squats or any other lifts. There are, and those with trained eyes can spot these problems. Often, we look for a simple "fix" that, when implemented and practiced, will tend to iron out a bunch of other little problems. In fact there is a coaching lesson in this, or, a lesson on how to spot good coaching. If you see a "fix your squat" article that gives you 30 different things to do, or think about, or implement, in some complicated over-technical series of interventions that will somehow lead to a better squat once you've given over your training to it for an extended period of time, you are witnessing a quintessential example of bad coaching. Good coaches look for the most simple, elegant solution, hopefully one that will directly impact your performance in the target task. However, most folks looking for guidance online without their own trainer or coach are so busy with the never-ending list of essential things they must do that their primary problem is simply a lack of "time under the bar." Since, I, like many others, get tired of that phrase, let's call it practice.

Most strength training programs never compromise. They assign the same priority to each and every lift. If your goal is a big squat, then make the squat your priority and do more of it, and a bit less of the other stuff. I do not mean to just double your workload on the squat right now. I do not mean that you should go into this blind. If you need help, seek it. There are many other trainers out there who will agree with me and help you train the squat as a priority, if that is what you want. The same goes for anything else you want to achieve. Don't try to do a bunch of other stuff that doesn't even resemble the thing you want to be able to do because some internet big head tells you you have some strange anatomical problem or you are somehow broken. Sure, this happens, but not nearly as often as the current fitness culture would have you believe. Do more of what you want to do!

And that diagram above? You can look at it all your want but it probably will not give you a bigger squat.

This page created 05 Jan 2016 18:57
Last updated 07 Dec 2016 20:19

© 2020 by Eric Troy and Ground Up Strength. All Rights Reserved. Please contact for permissions.