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Why Your Squat Sucks (And How to Fix It)

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A Look at Mobility, Prep Work, and Tools of the Trade

Have you ever had trouble getting low enough in the squat and had someone tell you “You need more hip mobility! Just do more stretching for your hip flexors and you’ll be fine.” 

But no matter how much you stretch and regardless of how many mobility drills you do, you just can’t seem to get low enough?

Trust me, I’ve been there.

As a 5x world record powerlifter and internationally recognized strength coach, I’ve not only helped countless lifters fix the exact same issue…I’ve had to fix it on myself, too.

Long before I started setting records I thought my mobility was keeping me from getting deep enough in the squat.

I foam rolled every crevice on my body and religiously did every mobility drill I could find, but none of it helped me get low enough in the squat.

Finally, after years of research and experimentation, I realized I wasn’t lacking mobility…I was in dire need of stability.

And that meant all the mobility work and stretching I had been doing was not only not helping…it may have actually been inhibiting my progress.

Fortunately, after realizing I needed more stability, I immediately started implementing the right protocols into my programs and instantly saw drastic improvements in both my squat and my deadlift.

Syatt deadlifting 535 pounds at a bodyweight of 135.


To help you move like a ninja and lift like a viking, today I’m going to teach you something most coaches don’t even know exist.

I’m going to show you precisely how to assess your squat, pin point your individual weaknesses (mobility or stability), and teach you exactly what you can do TODAY to start getting stronger and moving better.  

All this is being done in conjunction with the celebration and launch of my brand new resource, The Maximum Strength Squat, Press, Deadlift Seminar which is now on sale for nearly 50% off but only through Saturday at 11:59pm EST.

Ready to assess your squat?

Let’s do this!


Test #1: The Overhead Squat

The first test of my squat assessment is the Overhead Squat.

Feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed straight ahead, this is a purely evaluative – not performance – squat. In other words, this is just to see how good your movement is. You should not actually squat this way during a heavy training session. 

If Your Squat is Perfect: Cut the assessment right then and there. If you can squat well in this position your squat is on point and all you need to focus on is getting stronger.

If Your Squat Needs Improvement: Move onto the 2nd assessment below. Keep in mind, common issues to look for are heels coming off the floor, knees caving inward, arms falling too far forward, and hips not getting below the top of the knee.


Test #2: The Modified Overhead Squat

The second test in my squat assessment is the Modified Overhead Squat.

The major difference between this test and the previous test is the stance width. While the first test calls for feet shoulder width apart, the second test takes your feet out a little wider which opens up the hips, allows for more hip internal rotation, and more closely mimics how you’d actually squat in the gym.

If Your Squat is Now Perfect: Cut the assessment right then and there. If you can squat well in this position your squat is on point and all you need to focus on is getting stronger.

If Your Squat Still Needs Improvement: Move onto the 3rd assessment below. Keep in mind, common issues to look for are heels coming off the floor, knees caving inward, arms falling too far forward, and hips not getting below the top of the knee.


Test #3: The Goblet Squat

The third test in my squat assessment, the Goblet Squat is going to show you whether you really need more mobility or if you truly need more stability.

Feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and holding a light weight (10-15lbs) with your arms outstretched in front of you, this test forces you to activate your anterior core musculature which creates an added source of stability and, if that’s what you’re lacking, allows you to sink into a perfect squat.

If Your Squat is Now Perfect: Stop the assessment right then and there. You do NOT need more mobility work because you clearly have the mobility and range of motion to get into a deep squat. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be able to regardless of whether or not you were holding the weight in your hands. To the contrary, you probably need more stability work which I’ll tell you how to address later on.

If Your Squat Needs Improvement: Move onto the 4th assessment below. 


Test #4: The Heel Elevated Squat

The fourth and final test in my squat assessment, The Heel Elevated Squat allows you to assess your ankle mobility and see if you’re lacking sufficient dorsiflexion. 

Feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart in a performance based squat, elevating your heels gives your ankles a bit more mobility than if they were flat on the floor (essentially working in the same manner as Oly shoes).

If Your Squat is Now Perfect: You are lacking in ankle dorsiflexion and need to emphasize ankle mobility drills to improve your squat. 

If Your Squat Still Needs Improvement: The problem is likely a combination of factors including mobility (hip and t-spine), stability, neuromuscular coordination, and even psychological factors. 


Roman’s Afterword

Okay, so: now you know what’s wrong…how do you fix it?

That’s exactly what Jordan teaches you in his brand new 90-minute resource, The Maximum Strength Squat, Press, Deadlift Seminar which is on sale at nearly 50% through this Saturday at 11:59pm EST.

Not only does he give you step-by-step instructions including numerous drills and strategies based on your individual weaknesses, you’ll also get:

  • Jordan’s personal shoulder health assessment and training guides to build a massive overhead press
  • In depth technique tutorials on the squat, overhead press, and deadlift
  • The 10-second hamstring length assessment and how to prepare yourself for heavy deadlifting

Oh, and as a sweet bonus, if you grab the seminar now, you’ll also get Jordan’s World Record 8-week Deadlift Specialization Training Program for free.

As you must realize, this is a one time off for the sale, so grab it HERE before Saturday. 


Final Note: 

Obviously, this stuff is super important. While I no longer personally do back squats (though I do recommend them for most of my clients), the fact is, squatting is an essential movement pattern. And assessment is a massively important part of the entire process. 

In general, assessments are going to reveal that most people need to work on mobility. But useless advice as basic as “work on your mobility” isn’t really going to help you–whats going to help you are tools. Effective, actionable tools you can use to figure out where the holes are, and patch them; whether in the squat or another lift.

Jordan’s seminar is full of such tools, and so I highly recommend you pick it up during the sale. If you’re a trainer, you should absolutely own this; not doing so is just irresponsible. If you’re a fitness enthusiast, something like this could be the force multiplier to help you make massive jumps in progress.

So — why would you even dream of hesitating on this? Exactly. So, grab the seminar during the sale, and leave any questions for Jordan you have below!

About the Author

Jordan is the owner, head coach, and lead author here on Syatt Fitness. He's a 5x World Record Powerlifter, Precision Nutrition & Westside Barbell certified coach, and has been featured in CNN, The Huffington Post, Men’s Fitness and more. www.syattfitness.com

  • Some really good tips here. As someone who had a rupture achilles surgery last year, proper squat form has been difficult. Having said that I have improved and articles like this really help.

    Musclevoice

  • Great stuff as always Jordan.

  • Kenneth Ragpala

    Woooh! Nice article! Will be definitely trying these squat tips once I go back to the gym. No question this article is a gem for those who want to improve their squats and see great results. Sure looks intimidating, but I guess that’s the beauty of it.

    Nutrition Club Canada