I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when it comes to exercises, there is only one king the almighty squat. Nothing else puts more quality muscle mass on a frame than this time-tested movement, and it should be a staple of any bodybuilding program. However, just as there are multiple ways to set up a workout program, there is more than one way to squat. Finding what works best for you is an important key to unlocking your body’s potential.
To Meet the Specific Goals
Early in my bodybuilding career, I relied heavily on squats to build thigh mass. I regularly lifted more than 400 pounds using excellent form. That meant dropping down so deep that I was practically sitting on the floor at the bottom of the movement. Doing this helped to add muscle to my upper legs, but it also added it to my glutes. My lower body began to take on a boxy shape that didn’t fit my bodybuilding objectives. I revisited the squat to see if there was another way I could do it to meet my specific goals.
There are actually several variations of the squat. The half squat is performed astride a flat bench to regulate depth. During the tension squat, the knees don’t lock at the top and the bar continues moving throughout the midrange of the movement. The jump squat is excellent for weightlifters and other athletes interested in developing extra spring in their legs. The front squat tends to stress the teardrop of the quads, as do sissy squats. There’s even the one-leg squat, which is performed by holding a dumbbell in one hand and using the other to brace yourself on a power rack.
Whether you stick with one of the squat variations or incorporate them all into your program is entirely up to you and should be based on your individual needs and goals.
Focus on Two Kinds of Assisted Squats
In the early ’70s, I made the decision to focus on two kinds of assisted squats: the hack squat and the Smith machine squat. I always sought to improve upon my leg development, but my main focus turned from adding mass to adding quality mass at that point in my bodybuilding career. Size, for the sheer sake of size, was no longer my goal. Rather, I wanted to improve upon the sweep of my outer thighs, the separation of my quadriceps and the curve of my hamstrings. I found that I could achieve this by concentrating on the form and feel of the exercises instead of the weight. I turned to hack and Smith machine squats, exercises that allowed me to focus on what my thighs were doing as I performed them. I would literally think the definition into them.
In the end, I did what worked for me. If you can concentrate on your thighs while doing heavy full squats, then more power to you. Two points I’ve always stressed are, first, focus on the muscle, not the weight, and, second, figure out what works best for you, regardless of what others tell you to do. By following these two axioms, you’ll be able to create the world’s greatest training program the one that works for you.