Dr. Layne Norton has spent years refining his squat technique. Follow his coaching tips and cues, learn how to squat, and you someday could be the proud owner of monster legs!

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I used to be that guy with chicken legs. Why? Because I didn’t squat. I made up every excuse I could think of to get out of squatting: they’re bad for the knees, they’re bad for the back, they’re hard. I escaped squats by doing every other leg exercise I could think of, but my legs were still tiny.

One day I had an epiphany. I was sick of having little legs, so I made a goal to squat over 500 pounds for reps. I assumed that amount of weight would give me the big legs I wanted. After years and years of work and learning proper technique and programming, I did squat over 500 pounds for reps. Today, my one-rep max (1RM) is 655 pounds. I’m happy to report that, after all that work and all that weight, my legs are no longer twigs.

If you want big legs, there’s one rule: you gotta squat! Don’t go running to the nearest rack without watching this video first. I’m going to teach you tips and techniques I’ve learned over the years from working with some of the top coaches in the world, guys like powerlifter Ben Esgro, USAPL World Team Head Coach Matt Gary, and Dr. Mike Zourdos. They will help you squat big weights more safely and effectively.

HOW TO SQUAT EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO CONSIDER

EQUIPMENT
Equipment can make a big difference in your squat performance, especially when you’re under a lot of weight. Here are a few things you can put on that can make you a better squatter.

FOOTWEAR
The purpose of a tennis shoe is to distribute your weight evenly and to cushion your foot. But, in a squat, you’re pushing down against the earth. Physics dictate that the earth presses back up. If you use a cushioned shoe, you’ll lose some of that energy transfer. It’s also going to make you unstable. Those of you who do squat in sneakers may find that your knees cave in and that you feel wobbly.

At minimum, you need to use a hard-soled shoe. Converse All-Stars are a great choice. I also like weightlifting shoes. The great thing about weightlifting shoes is that they have a hard sole and an elevated heel.

The elevated heel puts you in a more ergonomic position for squatting, allowing you to push of your heel and mid-foot better.

BELT
A sturdy weight belt can make a huge difference in your squat. A good belt will give your core something to brace against, will protect your lower back, and will keep you more upright.

The rumor that wearing a belt will weaken your core is just plain wrong. Research shows that wearing a belt will actually give you more core activation because it provides your core with something to push against.

Most people wear their belts too low. A lifting belt doesn’t go around your waist, but around where your abdominal wall will push out. So, find where your abdominal wall pushes out, and then put your belt around that area.

I recommend buying a sturdy, buckle belt that’s at least 10-13 millimeters thick and 4 inches wide.

KNEE WRAPS OR SLEEVES
Knee wraps and sleeves help keep your knees warm and provide some extra support. I prefer knee sleeves to wraps because they’re quicker and easier to get on and off, and there’s some evidence that wraps can put too much pressure on the patella.

I also like to know that it’s me moving the weight, and that I’m not getting a PR because of knee wraps.

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65 COMMENTS

  1. Hi, Layne awesome video regarding how to squat which I love doing on leg day but my gym only offers Smith Machines which I don't have a problem with but I'm 6'7" and can only do front squats facing inward comfortably and back squats with the bar on my traps.

    If can offer any advice and have videos regarding Smith Machine squats, deadlifts for us taller guys it'll be awesome.

  2. I used to squat a lot of weight with his form. Leaning forward and taking most of the weight on my back. As soon as I realised I should be more upright, my core instantly engaged itself. I’m not saying his form is wrong. I’m just saying maybe you are not as upright as you should be. So try to be as upright as possible, i’m sure your core will immedietly engage itself.

  3. 7:25 That is wrong. High bar would create the same torque if you lean as far forward as in a low bar squat. But since you are much more upright with high bar, the weight is closer to the pivot point than in a low bar squat and creates less torque in the hips and the lower back.

  4. Very detailed analysis. I squat for Shuai Jiao and Judo, thus I prefer front squat as keeping upper body straight is a key in engaging fight. I did find out I can squat more weight with back squat. So it is a matter of choice for what you squat for.

  5. The problem is that people don't seek professional Power/Olympic weight lifting coaches to learn the basics of weight lifting. They watch Youtube videos and then end up in the emergency room.

  6. I believe you do couple of wrong things.

    1.I think you go to deep squatting, this procedure is called 'Butt on the grass' which doesn’t really make sense to go all the way down there, first you bend your lower back going that deep,second going below 90° you hamstrings start to relax,a simple test 'put your hands on your hamstring and start squatting' then you gonna understand what i'm talking about it.
    2. You put the bar on your shoulder blade which is good but you hold the bar only with your fingers and your wrist is very bend, push your elbow up make there wrist straight and hold the bar firmly and if you can't work on your shoulders flexibility before you load the bar heavy.
    3. You have to hold the gravity going slowly down and faster up to make sure you don’t have a NO shock impact on your knees, spine and other joints make sure you keep the muscle in tension thats why you need all the knee and wrist wrap and helmet soon.Keep it simple, shoes and belt are enough for sure.

  7. You don't have to go real hard and risk injury to have good looking legs. Squat with weight you can handle and focus on form and make sure you try hard.there are people who don't squat in their lives and end up getting bad knees. Clearly putting a humungus amount of weight while squatting will increase the rate of wear on your knees.

  8. I do my squats exactly the way Layne does his except I don't go as low. I go just below parallel. One other rule I've got is to squat with a weight that you can do at least 6 reps in a set.

    I've tried a lot of different styles. The one Layne does is the most comfortable for me, no niggles or pain anywhere.

    For me having the bar low on the back is the key it just takes a bit of getting use to.

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