Power squat is a powerlifting exercise geared to increase lower body strength. Unlike the Olympic squat, which trains speed and overall athleticism, the power squat is designed to improve your one-rep max. This means it improves the maximum amount of weight that you can lift in a single repetition.
It is pretty simple as it just involves placing a barbell across your upper back, then slowly lowering yourself into a squat before pushing back up into the start position.
The exercise is not limited to only bodybuilders, it can be incorporated into various low body strength fitness routines.
Also, this functional exercise, when done correctly, helps boost your calorie burn, prevent injuries, strengthen your core, and improve your balance and posture.
HOW TO DO POWER SQUAT
Here is a step-by-step procedure of how to do the exercise:
- Stand upright in the middle of a power rack with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, dip under the bar and place it on top of your rear delts. Ensure it is your back supporting the bar, and not your wrists or forearms.
- Now stand up with the bar with your feet under your hips, then take two steps backward to clear the hooks and adjust your stance width.
- Inhale, brace your core, keep your chest lifted and look straight ahead.
- Now squat down by pushing the hips back and weight into the heels, such that the knees bend but do not go forward past the toes.
- When you reach the powerlifting depth, that is your hips crease slightly below your knee tops and thighs parallel to the floor, push through the heels and drive the hips forward, returning to the start position. Ensure your heels remain on the ground throughout. Further, squeeze your glutes at the top of the range of the motion so as to fully extend the front of the hips and finish the move.
- Repeat for the desired number of sets and reps.
POWER SQUAT MUSCLES WORKED
This compound exercise not only targets muscles in the lower body, but also several muscles above your waist if done correctly.
The lower muscles targeted in a squat include your: gluteus maximus, minimus, and medius (buttocks), quadriceps (front of the thigh), hamstrings (back of the thigh), adductor (groin), hip flexors and calves.
It also targets your core muscles, which include the rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis, and erector spinae. You can use a weight belt if you’re lifting heavy weights; however, it is recommended that you skip the belt when learning to perform power squat in order to strengthen the core musculature.
POWER SQUAT BENEFITS
There are several benefits to performing the movement.
STRENGTHENS THE ENTIRE POSTERIOR CHAIN
This strength training exercise helps strengthen and tone the muscles on the back side of the body, from the upper and lower back, to the glutes, and hamstrings. Therefore, you will be able to move more comfortably, with less pain, and also, everything from walking to bending to exercising will be easier.
EASIER ON THE KNEE JOINT
As compared to other squatting techniques, this exercise places so much emphasis on the hips and not the knees thus easier on the latter.
ENABLES YOU TO ACHIEVE HEAVIER WEIGHTS
As discussed, the movement seeks to improve your one-rep max thus a good thing if you’re looking to increase your size. Although, you can also implement it with lighter weights if you just want to improve general fitness.
STRENGTHENS YOUR CORE
A strengthened core can make daily movements like turning, bending, and even standing easier. Essentially, it can improve your balance, ease lower back pain, and also help you to maintain good posture.
REDUCES THE RISK OF INJURY
With strengthened muscles in your lower body, you’re able to properly perform full-body movements with correct form, balance, mobility, and posture. Besides, the movement helps strengthen your tendons, ligaments, and bones, which may help reduce any risk of injury.
Like aerobic exercises, performing this high-intensity, compound movement can also help burn some serious calories.
POWER SQUAT ALTERNATIVES
The Olympian squat is quite similar to the power squat as they are both back squats. It also emphasizes the quads, glutes, adductor magnus, calves and trunk musculature, but with a heightened focus on your knee extensors. The movement is also distinguished by deep flexion in the knee joint, a high bar position for the barbell, where it rests on top of your traps, and a more upright torso angle.
The Zercher Squat can help improve your upper back and core strength for the squat, improve your hip and squat mobility due to the load placement, and also reduce the amount of stress on the lower back while squatting.
BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUAT
You can diversify your squat training with this unilateral leg training exercise. The Bulgarian split squat is great if you want to add more leg training volume or cannot perform heavy loaded back squats. Also, it’s great for glute development and addressing movement imbalances.
POWER SQUAT MISTAKES TO AVOID
IGNORING WRIST DISCOMFORT.
Your wrists may seriously ache if you let them bear too much weight. This may affect your performance in other exercises like the bench press.
Ensure your rear delts are carrying almost the entire load of the barbell, this way, it’s okay to over-extend your wrists in the low bar position. Also, you can invest in a pair of wrist wraps.
LETTING YOUR BACK ROUND.
Letting your back round while standing up deems the movement less efficient. Even though it’s tempting and almost difficult to avoid, you’ll need to fix your rounded back position when you squat for maximum gains.
The power squat is a must-have exercise in your strength-building training regimen. Its benefits are simply ridiculous. Alternate with other squatting variations to stay motivated and challenged with each new move.
Make sure you keep your core engaged throughout the exercise and that you use the proper form for maximum gains.
If you have a health condition or an injury, ask for professional advice before adding the movement to your fitness routine.