The Anderson squat is named after Paul Anderson, a famous American powerlifter who invented and popularized it.
It is also known as the bottom-up squat because it is performed with the barbell at a dead stop.
To do it, you need a squat rack and barbell.
- On a squat rack, set the safety pins to a height you’d prefer to start from. You can start from above parallel if you’re looking to focus on your lockout or from below parallel if you’re aiming at improving your strength out of the hole.
- Set the bar at the pins and load it with your preferred weight.
- Stand in front of the rack with your back to it.
- Grab the bar with a grip that’s slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades and brace your core.
- Hinge your hips and lift the weight from the safety pins until both of your knees are almost completely extended. Take care not to use momentum, lift from the toes or lean too far backward or forward.
- Once you’re done with the lockout, pause for a few seconds and then start lowering slowly, maintaining tension in your torso and core.
- Make sure the bar stops completely before your next rep begins.
WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE ANDERSON SQUAT WORK?
The muscles worked during the Anderson squat are determined by the position in which you choose to start.
If you start from below parallel, the muscles that will be recruited are your glutes, quads, spinal erectors, core, upper back and hip flexors.
The quads extend your knees when you get into the standing position, and you work them more when you start from a low height.
Your hip flexors, adductors, and glutes play the role of extending your hips and to some extent stabilizing your knees.
The spinal erectors, core, and upper body work to stabilize your spine, which prevents your back from overarching and your spine from rotating.
On the other hand, starting from the above parallel involves less quad engagement as your hamstrings and glutes do most of the work.
You’ll also need more back and core strength to keep your back straight throughout the movement.
BENEFITS OF THE ANDERSON SQUAT
GETS RID OF THE STRETCH REFLEX
A stretch reflex (aka bouncing out of the hole) can be defined as the desire of a muscle to contract upon lengthening during a workout.
During squats, this happens to your hamstrings when they lengthen when you’re moving past parallel.
Since the Anderson squat requires that you begin from a dead stop, you cannot rely on the stretch reflex to get the weight back up.
Instead, you must generate power from your body to drive the movement.
This helps improve strength and power in the exercise more than if you had to rely on momentum to drive yourself up.
IMPROVES DEADLIFTING ABILITY
If you often find it difficult to break the bar from the floor while deadlifting, the Anderson squat can help you fix this.
The low starting position that is used in the Anderson squat is quite similar to the deadlift starting position.
And because the Anderson squat trains your body to develop more power when lifting weight from a dead stop position, it can help improve the concentric (lifting) portion of your deadlifts.
DEVELOPS EXPLOSIVE STRENGTH IN THE LOWER BODY
A very common reason why people fail at the midpoint of the squat is because of not being able to get out of the hole fast enough.
This movement can help you generate more power from the squat bottom so that you develop enough force to get you through the movement.
ALLOWS YOU TO ACHIEVE DEPTH
By challenging the hip extensors, the Anderson squat can help enhance your hip mobility, which makes it easier for you to squat lower.
And since you have to bring the bar down to the safety pins at the end of each rep, it ensures that you’re reaching the correct depth in all your reps.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE ANDERSON SQUAT
FRONT-FACING WALL SQUAT
The front-facing wall squat trains your mobility, which makes it a great way to activate your muscles before a heavy lower body workout.
- Stand 10-12 inches from a wall, facing it.
- Position your feet shoulder-width apart and turn your toes outward slightly.
- Raise your arms overhead to form a “Y” shape.
- Tighten your core.
- Hinge your hips back and bend your knees.
- Lower yourself down as far as your flexibility and knees can allow. No part of your body should touch the wall, and don’t let your lower back overarch.
- Get back up and repeat the steps.
GOBLET BAND SQUAT
No weights for your squat? No problem.
You can get all the resistance you need for your squats from a resistance band.
The goblet band squat overloads your quads and fires up your hamstrings and glutes as you will need to work almost twice as hard to keep your upper body upright.
- Loop your feet into the band, stepping on it with your heels.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with the toes turned outward.
- Hold the free end of the band right in front of your chest.
- Squeeze your core, retract your shoulders and look ahead.
- Bend your knees and lower yourself into a squat, going as far as your flexibility allows. Don’t lean forward or round your back.
- Stand up and repeat.
ANDERSON SQUAT MISTAKES TO AVOID
PUSHING YOUR KNEES OUT
Take care not to push your knees to the front excessively.
Ideally, if you are to push your knees out as you lower into the squat, they shouldn’t go past your second toe.
NOT TIGHTENING YOUR CORE
A braced core makes it easier for you to keep your body stable and your lower back in place.
USING HEAVY WEIGHT
If you think that using a very heavyweight will help you develop muscular strength faster, think again.
Heavyweight puts you at risk of shoulder and spinal injury, in addition to ruining your alignment.
For the best results, you should only load weight that you can lift without ruining your form.
So, should you try the Anderson squat?
The answer to this question is determined by your fitness level.
If you are a beginner, you may have a bit of a hard time maintaining the correct form because of lower overall strength.
You can first try to develop more muscle strength with less challenging variations before moving to advanced ones.