How to Squat With Your Core

Squatting is simply one of the very best exercises you can do for building muscle and strength. Period.

What would you say if I told you that your body has the potential to lift 10% or more weight in the squat RIGHT NOW, with just a small adjustment in how you perform the exercise?

Today, you're going to learn exactly how it's done. You're going to learn how to use your core muscles to not only stabilize your upper body during the squat (the regular squat technique), but to actually help PUSH the weight up as well. This is how you will be able to use more weight instantly - you'll be using more muscles to push the weight up!

It's an extremely powerful technique that will not only help you use more weight, it will help you develop incredible core strength, power and stability. In fact, use of this technique while squatting can even help you become a more powerful athlete because it teaches you how to use your core muscles to not only stabilize during but to actively participate in powerful movements found in most sports.

The result: a stronger throw, a higher jump, a more devastating punch and a more powerful kick.


How To Squat With Your Core:

Teaching you how to use your core to push during a squat is not a one-step process, nor is it something that comes naturally to most. I'm going to take you through several progressions that will force your body to learn the technique so you can immediately apply it to your squatting.

First, we need to pre-exhaust the muscle of the core. Pre-exhausting is a technique whereby you work a single target muscle group in isolation, e.g. flyes for the chest, before working it in combination with other muscle groups, e.g. bench press for the chest.


Why do we need to pre-exhaust the muscles that we're trying to use to make another exercise stronger?

The answer is simple. When the core muscles are fresh and unworked, it would be much harder to actually feel how we want them to work. When we pre-exhaust them with one specific exercise (which I will teach you) then work them another specific exercise (which I will also teach you), the core muscles will be the weak link and your body will be forced to use the core to push in order to actually perform the movement.

It's basically a way of selectively exhausting your core muscles to make you feel them working in the way we want. Without pre-exhausting, the core muscles won't be forced to work like this and it wouldn't teach you the technique as effectively.

The exercise we're going to use to teach you how to push with the core is the Low Pulley Deadlift.

Attach a straight or cambered bar to a low pulley. Use a fairly heavy weight for this exercise (the whole weight stack may be necessary). The execution is very similar to a standard deadlift.

Get into the start position, making sure your lower back is arched. Now take a few steps back, away from the pulley, taking the weight with you. This angle on the pulley you get from stepping back is critical in teaching you how to push with your core.

The Low Pulley Deadlift

Now do a deadlift movement but keep the knees fairly bent and focus primarily on straightening at the hips rather than the knees (you'll want to keep your knees bent throughout the movement). You should notice your core muscles immediately quivering as tension shoots through that area.

The Low Pulley Deadlift

In order to even perform the movement, you now have to use your core muscles to push up. Without pushing with the core, you'll pitch forward due both to the angle of the cable on the low pulley and the direct backward force you need to exert to keep from falling forward.

Perform 2 or 3 sets of 8 reps of the Low Pulley Deadlift, focusing as hard as you can on pushing your torso straight using your core muscles. This exercise is all about learning to feel the core pushing, not necessarily about working the muscles. Using enough weight is very important to learning that feeling so don't go too light with this exercise.


Once you can reliably feel your core muscles pushing in this exercise, you're ready to apply it to your squats.

Load the squat bar with weight you'd normally use for about 8 reps. Do one set of squats as you normally would, not pushing with the core. Push yourself but not to failure with this set - stay a few reps short of that point.

Now we're going to apply what we've learned about pushing with the core. Using the same weight as your first set, go down to the bottom of the squat as you normally would. As you start to come up, push with your core muscles, just like you did when performing the Low Pulley Deadlifts a few minutes ago.

I like to imagine my core muscles compressing like a coiled spring as I lower myself down to the bottom of the movement then expanding as I come up. Visualization in this manner may help you achieve the proper focus as well.

This pushing with the core should allow you to squat up more easily than in the previous non-core set. The core is no longer a passive stabilizer but an active participant in the movement.

It will take a little practice to get your mind into the technique but the results are very much worth it. You could be squatting more weight more comfortably in a matter of minutes.

Practice the core pre-exhaust Low Pulley Deadlifts regularly to not only help teach your core to push but to strengthen it as well. The carryover in strength to the squat is tremendous.

While your squat form may not visibly be any different when you do this squat, this unique focused activation of the core will result in significantly increased power and strength in the exercise.

Learn 16 more methods for improving your squat here.



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