Ah, the squat.
One of the most natural movement patterns we can perform.
At the same time, doing weighted squats is one of the toughest and most challenging things. But, it’s also one of the most productive and rewarding physical activities we can do at the gym.
The problem is, it can be challenging to get it right and squat a respectable amount of weight. To that end, we’ve put together this guide for you. In it, you’ll learn what it takes to squat more weight as a senior.
But First, Why Having a Strong and Functional Squat Is So Important
As we mentioned above, the squat is among the most natural movement patterns that we, as humans, perform. So, adding resistance to the movement is a great way to strengthen your entire body and build muscle.
More specifically, the squat trains our entire lower body (calves, hamstrings, adductors, abductors, quads, and glutes) and heavily involves our full back, shoulders, core musculature, arms, and hands.
While it may seem simple enough, the squat is among the most effective whole-body exercises, and it is right up there with the deadlift.
Aside from making us more robust and more muscular, the squat dramatically improves our overall athletic capabilities and functional fitness. You’d be hard-pressed to find professional athletes who don’t employ at least one squatting variation in their training.
All in all, the squat is among the best exercises you can do to stay strong, healthy, and functional well after your 70th birthday.
How to Squat More Weight For Seniors: Five Invaluable Tips
While there are many tactics you can employ to increase your squat, the below five are the most applicable to seniors, take the least amount of time to implement, and deliver the fastest results.
Learn How to Squat Properly
Indeed, before you can squat more weight, you need to learn how to, you know, squat. Here are some basic rules to follow:
a) Start with a barbell resting on your upper back (right below the base of your neck) with your hands firmly grasping it and keeping it in place. Alternatively, begin with the bodyweight version with your arms extended forward.
b) Position your feet at shoulder-width level with toes pointed slightly out and heels firmly planted on the floor.
c) Bring your shoulders back and chest out.
d) Engage your core and glutes.
e) Take a deep breath and squat by pushing your knees forward and to your sides. Keep your heels firmly planted. Think of it like you’re trying to sit in a chair.
f) Go as low as you can, preferably to the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor.
g) From there, forcefully push through your heels and squat up to the starting position.
Work On Your Hip Mobility
Functional hip mobility is of utmost importance for a productive and safe squat. So, if you feel that your hips are a limiting factor for the squat, it’s a good idea to seek professional help and improve your mobility in that area.
There are many great exercises to do, and any good coach or physical therapist will be able to tailor a specific plan for your needs.
Squat With The Proper Footwear
When it comes to exercises like the squat, where having a good foundation is vital, you need to pay attention to your footwear, as it can make a huge difference in your ability to squat more weight safely.
More specifically, you should either squat barefoot or with shoes that have a flat, hard, and non-compressive sole. An excellent example of such shoes is the classic Chuch Taylor’s.
Alternatively, you can also get yourself a pair of Olympic shoes with a raised heel as they help most folks squat to proper depth more efficiently. But, keep in mind that special shoes like that are more expensive.
If you squat in running shoes, for example, you won’t have a solid foundation to push from because the sole of that footwear is squishy and compresses under load. That makes you more unstable and more likely to lose your balance.
Breathing is essential for a proper squat because it creates intra-abdominal pressure. Without it, even the best athletes in the world will struggle to squat anything impressive.
Intra-abdominal pressure is also vital for safety as it helps keep your torso rigid and spine in a safe and stable position.
Correct breathing is also vital for high-repetition sets because the squat is incredibly demanding, and it can quickly leave you winded if you don’t supply your body with enough oxygen.
So, before squatting, take a deep breath into your belly, squat down and, once you’re almost back to the top position, exhale. Then, repeat the same breathing pattern for your next repetition.
Squat With Free Weights and Pick a Squat Variation That Works for You
Squatting with free weights is incredibly beneficial for your overall strength and safety because, rather than having to adjust your body to a fixed movement pattern, you get to finely tune the movement to your unique anatomy and squatting pattern.
This means that you should avoid using the smith machine for your squatting, as it forces you to squat the bar in a perfectly straight line. A natural squat has some curves, and forcing your body into this rigid pattern isn’t right.
The great news is, there are plenty of squat variations to choose from, so no matter what equipment you have access to, you can always make it work.
Here are some ideas:
- Barbell front and back squat;
- Zercher squat;
- Dumbbell goblet squat;
- Overhead squat;
- Dumbbell squat (holding one in each hand);
- Bulgarian split squat;
You can always do some experimenting to see which variation works best for you. For the most part, sticking to the classic back and front squat will be more than enough. But, you can also try the goblet, Bulgarian split, and overhead squat versions to make your training more fun.