By: Max Hall
Have you been told your legs are too long to be great at squats? A common belief is that to have a great squat you need to have short femurs. The truth is short femurs are a mechanical advantage while squatting because you can remain more upright. That doesn’t mean hope is lost. Some of the best squatters in the world have long femurs. These tips will help you grow your squat regardless of how long your legs are.
Long femurs present greater challenge
You’ve probably been told if you have long femurs you will struggle with squats. This doesn’t have to be true. Many elite powerlifters have long femurs.
These three tactics will help build larger stronger legs and let you compete with the best.
Use Low Bar Position
Most lifters use a high bar position. High bar squats optimize training tension for quad growth, but they’re not ideal for optimizing one rep max for competition. Taller lifters often struggle to hit parallel depth because of their long femurs. Low bar changes the center of gravity of the load allowing for a more bent over posture.
Place the below your upper traps on top of your rear delts. The first time trying Low bar squats can feel like the bar is rolling off your back. Lean over a few degrees more than usual as shown below. Squeeze your shoulder blades together to brace your back. Take a deep breath into your stomach and brace. Start light and practice the technique before going heavy
The quads will always be a limiting factors of building a big squat regardless of low bar or high bar. To build the biggest competition squat building your quads is necessary; especially if you have long femurs.
Build Massive Quads
Building big quads doesn’t come natural to lifters with long femurs. This means to build up your squat and stop this from limiting you; you will have to work hard.
Leg extensions and leg press are great exercises but often far too heavily relied on. Performing movements that challenge you will be impartive to your success in building a big squat. Here’s a list of some of my favourite quad accessories you can use to mix up your training.
-Hatfield Split Squats (read Andrew Coates Article on these)
-ATG Split Squats
-High Bar Paused Squats
-High Bar Tempo Squats
-Low Bar Paused Squats
These exercises are great tool for growing your quads and build that big squat. A tool is only as good as how you use it. To make the most of these exercises practice full range of motion. Getting all the way down there in a squat can feel uncomfortable however will be necessary in this process.
To build big quads we need to talk about volume. You will want to be doing around 8-20 sets of quad work per week. This may not be hard to accomplish if you are doing a lot of leg extensions and presses however if you are challenging yourself with some of the exercises above this can feel very challenging.
12 sets per week is a good place to start for most and slowly working up or down as needed. If you try to put all 12 of these sets on a singular day the first 4-8 sets may be great but then the next 4+ sets you will be fatigued for and will be less effective. Which is why we utilize increases in squat frequency.
Increase Squat Frequency
Some powerlifters are squatting as many as 4-5 times per week. Increased frequency can be a great way to break through a squat plateau. You do not have to jump all the way from 1 day to 4 days. Start by increasing your squat frequency by one day if you are struggling to build that big squat. If you currently only squatting one day a week you will likely see huge improvements for going up to two days. Once your progress starts to stall that’s when you may want to look at increasing to that third day and so on.
Use the accessories above on your second or third squat day. Just because you are increasing your squat frequency doesn’t mean the squat has to be the same of each day. For
Day 1- Low Bar Squat (3 sets) Belt squats (3 sets)
Day 2- High Bar Paused Squats (3 sets) Hatfield Split Squats (3 sets)
Try to keep at least one rest day between days of squatting. Getting into frequencies of 4+ days per week makes it tricky to manage this. If you are under 3 days a week of squatting however best that you can try to keep at least one day between days of squatting.
Here is a video of my squatting 415lbs for 5 reps
The Depth of the Issue
Having long Femurs isn’t the death sentence for you squat. Follow these tips and most importantly believe in yourself. If you don’t believe you can be a great squatter you will never become one.
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