You don't know Squat 2: The Grind

Last time we spoke about the basics of the squat as a movement pattern. This can be read here.

Today we talk about loading the squat, developing strength. This is the Grind part of the progression continuum. In the ideal world you have a good squat first then you load it, but this is not the ideal world. Most people load their squat too soon. Actually they load something that sort of resembles a squat.

What is the ideal squat?

Everyone has an opinion on this. I define it as; Feet in the athletic stance, pointing forward or turned slightly out. Squat down with a straight back till the crease of your hips is just below the top of your knees. You knees can track over your toes but they must no fall inward. Movement quality ranks first, then weight. We don’t want to compensate just to move more weight. If there’s some slight compensation on a rep when pushing for a max that is acceptable. Be aware of it and don’t make it a habit.

Photo credit: Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe.

Photo credit: Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe.

How do we grind… build strength?

There are many ways to load the squat to build strength. You can use barbells, kettlebells, sandbags and other implements. 3 ways to load it with a barbell are:

1.       Front squats

2.       Back Squats

3.       Zercher squats

There are different variations of the squat that can be loaded, in order to build strength. How you use them. Depends on you and your needs.

Other ways and variations include

1.       KB Front squats

2.       Pistol squats

3.       Lunges

4.       Split squats

Some points I didn’t mention in the previous post. Like all patterns, there are variations in the Squat. These are usually single leg ones. Like some of the ones mentioned above. Squats are defined by maximal hip and knee movement. So we have the pattern covered. We have single vs double leg covered. We have the ways to load the squat covered. Now for the big question….

How much should you load the squat?

My answer, it depends. It depends on your goals and the requirements of the sports and activities you do. It also depends on which squat variation you prioritise in your training. If you take part in a more strength and power orientated sport, you will need a stronger squat. Not everybody I train barbell squats. Some just do single leg or kettlebell variations. If I had to give a standard I would say a 1.5x bodyweight back squat for men and a 1.0x bodyweight back squat for women is a reasonable standard of strength. Not game changing, but reasonable, but more on strength standards later.


Grind is about building strength. It is taking the squat pattern you have developed and adding load to it. To make yourself more capable of producing and handling force in that pattern. We touched on the different squat variations. All squats are not the same and emphasise different things and we need different squats to strengthen components of the movement based on our needs.

Next time we talk about balance, power and chaos.

·         How balanced are you?

·         How much force can you produce and how fast?

·         Can you handle when thing go out of pattern?