The squat next to the deadlift is arguably the king of all exercises! The squat is a massive muscle recruiter and stimulates the whole body in a way not many exercises can. You may be thinking the only way to build up your squat is to train legs, you couldn’t be more wrong. The squat recruits muscle fibers from almost every muscle group in the body not just the legs!
Mental challenges often hinder us in many ways in life not just in the weight room. Negative thoughts and fears hinder performance just as much as conditioning can. When you squat and load the bar with 400 plus pounds that can be very taxing on the mind. Fear can creep in and make you second guess your ability to perform the exercise. This is where mental toughness comes into play, when you load up the bar with the seemingly heavy weight you must visualize yourself hitting the lift, you cannot hesitate or you may miss it.
This goes hand in hand with building your shoulders, you must have a strong base to rest the bar. Having a strong upper back is very important to help keep the heavy loads under control during the movement. When you squat with a stronger back it will help keep your chest up when you start to drive the bar, which in turn supports core stability throughout the lift. Exercises like pull-ups, rows, band pull apart, and face pulls are great exercises to build the upper back.
Stop doing the simple 3 sets of 12 reps. To build strength you need to be training with heavier weights at lower rep ranges. Doing sets/reps in the hypertrophy range (increase muscle size) can still have a little carry over into strength gains, however to truly develop strength in any exercise you need to be training at a much higher intensity of about 80-95% of your 1 rep max, this means more sets less reps. So, training in a realm of 5 sets of 5 reps, 6 sets of 4 etc, you are maximizing the amount of weight you lift each set while also stimulating your nervous system to handle heavier loads.
This one may not cross many people’s minds but working on technique is without a doubt the single most effective way to boost your squat. By working on technique, you can train your body to be more efficient in the movement, which in turn enables you to lift the heaviest weights in the most efficient manner. You should analyze your form each time you lift, record your lifts, get experienced lifters to give you their feedback etc. Once your form is perfected you will see your squat shoot right up!