Three Reasons You Can’t Squat More Weight, and What To Do About It.

April 13, 2017

Common squat technique problems and how to fix them. Squat heavier loads by fixing these common squat issues.

So you’ve reached a plateau on your squat, and you can’t figure out why

Surely you must be strong enough?

You probably are strong enough! So what’s the problem, and how do you fix it?

Most likely you have a range of motion (ROM) and mobility issues. Fear not, here are three easy fixes to perform on rest days and as part of your pre-squat warm-up.


When you squat, your shin moves over your toes and ankle ‘dorsiflexion’ occurs. A tight Achilles or poor mobility in the ankle joint will restrict dorsiflexion. Without sufficient dorsiflexion – you can’t squat!

Here’s the fix!

  1. Hook a resistance band to something solid, like a squat rack or a functional fitness station.
  2. Pop your ankle inside the band.
  3. Face away from the anchored end of the band and step out with your banded leg. The band will be resting over the front of your ankle. You should be in a lunge position, with the band stretched out behind you.
  4. Use your hands to push your knee over your foot and out (like you would when using the ‘knees out’ cue for squatting).
  5. Repeat on each foot for two minutes.


If your hips can’t move properly you won’t get deep enough and won’t generate enough power in the squat. Instead your lower back will take the strain and you run the risk of injury!

One of the main culprits is tight hip flexors!

Here’s two fixes.

         Hip flexor stretch

Because of our sedentary lifestyles, with so much time spent sitting down, our hip flexors become shortened and tight. Let’s stretch them out a bit!

Get into a half-kneeling position (lunge with back knee on the ground behind you). Put your hands on your front knee. Push your hips forward and hold the stretch. Repeat with opposite leg.

  1. Hip External Rotation Stretch

You need your hips to be able to external rotate in order to generate the torque required to transfer energy from your leg muscles to the bar and to keep the hip joint stable.

Lie on the floor with one leg straight and the other bent at 90 degrees to side. Allow your bent knee to fall in towards your straight leg. You may gently push down on it. Hold the stretch and then repeat with opposite side.


Thoracic Extension

It may not seem obvious at first, but upper back mobility is very important for squatting, especially front squats.

These days so many of us hunch over our computers, steering wheels and phones that we end up with a stiff upper back.

Stiff upper back = weak position in the squat = injuries

Let’s open up that thoracic spine:

Lie flat on the floor on your back, and bend your knees so that they are 8-10 inches off the floor. Position a foam roller under your upper back. Place your hands behind your head, pull your elbows in as close together as you can. Allow your head to drop backwards to the floor and “wrap” your upper back around the foam roller. Now roll your upper back up and down over the foam roller, paying particular attention to the tight and painful parts. Only roll yourupper back. Do not roll your lower back or your neck. Roll slowly, and enjoy releasing the tension in the tender areas.


There you have it – three easy fixes to help you squat like a beast. Remember, these are just three options – there are plenty of techniques to improve ankle, hip and thoracic spine mobility. If you really struggle – see a physio!

Want to squat like a beast but the bar is digging into your back? No worries – some people just need a bit of extra padding. We’ve got you covered. Check out our barbell pad. Not only will you squat more comfortably and be able to concentrate on lifting heavy – you’ll look like a total badass too.



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