Range of motion is a crucial aspect of your training program. Using improper form and cheating yourself of full range of motion within an exercise will simply rob you of the results you are trying to achieve. If you are trying to increase the weight load of your squat, flexibility should never be underestimated when it comes to strength gains.
An improvement in flexibility leads to greater range of motion within the joints which will allow more muscle fibers to fire, eliciting much better results from your training program. If your goal is to increase the load of your one rep max squat, you’re best bet is to start by working on squat flexibility and range of motion in order to elicit a greater response from muscle fibers.
Factors Affecting Range of Motion
Keep in mind that a full range of motion means different things to different people with different body types. While one individual may have the lever range to perform a squat far below parallel, that doesn’t apply to everyone. You will have to work at finding the range of motion that you are able to achieve based on your specific body type and genetics.
A number of factors contribute to squat flexibility. The strength and flexibility within the knees, hips and ankles along with all of the tendons, ligaments and muscles surrounding them, play a role in an individuals ability. In addition, any lower back injuries or ailments may be a hindrance to accomplishing a full squat.
A balance of muscular strength within the body is also crucial to squat flexibility and range of motion capacity. For example, someone may have very strong quadriceps which of course will assist immensely in their ability to handle a heavy load, however if their core is weak they will not be capable of providing the stability required to handle what they may otherwise be capable of. This means their squat flexibility, range of motion and strength will suffer due to muscular imbalance.
How to Improve Form and Squat Flexibility
First of all it is imperative to ensure that you are performing the squat properly. It is far more beneficial and you will make progress much faster if you start by perfecting your form. It’s worth hiring a trusted professional to spot you and instruct necessary modifications.
Once you have learned the proper technique, you will most likely have to reduce the amount of weight you’ve been using. This may be discouraging at first but it’s better to lift less weight properly than too much weight with poor form. I see people in the gym all of the time that are lifting way too much weight and because of that are only able to perform half squats. This does nothing to improve squat flexibility or range of motion and therefore will do nothing to improve strength.
Now that you have perfected your form and have chosen an appropriate level of resistance, you can apply the rule of adaptation to your program. If you are training for strength, use a rep scheme of 3 to 5 reps per set and perform 5 sets, not including the 2 warm up sets, which are very necessary.
Challenging yourself with the weight load while still maintaining the form will have you making huge improvements in both range of motion and squat flexibility, meaning your strength will improve dramatically. Your ligaments, tendons and muscles will strengthen and work together to support greater loads and reduce the risk of injury.
Keep it Balanced
Keep in mind that a well-rounded strength training routine requires a balance of exercises and training methods. It’s not enough to work on squat flexibility and strength alone. You need to strengthen all muscles of the body in order to balance things out both and ensure both optimal physical performance as well as aesthetics.