Perhaps the single most effective training tip and strategy I can provide to any lifter looking to maximize their squat is to use eccentric isometrics. Here’s and example with NFL athlete Ameer Abdullah performing eccentric isometrics goblet squats combined with eyes closed conditions.
How To Maximize Your Squat – Using Isometric Holds
The beauty of eccentric isometrics is they maximize proprioceptive feedback & kinesthetic awareness by fully activating the muscles spindles & other somatosensory feedback mechanisms. Ultimately this allows the athlete to fine-tune their positioning, self-correct, & use inherent feedback by relying on sense of feel to find their proper mechanics rather than relying excessively on external cues from an outside source or coach. The naked eye can only see so much. That’s why it’s essential that the athlete gets to the point where they can feel more than what my eyes can see.
Notice he hits roughly 90 deg on every movement with very little cueing from me. That’s because that’s the optimal stopping point & ROM for the human body under high load high force conditions. When given the chance to attend to proprioceptive feedback, humans inevitably gravitate to 90 deg since it represents the sweet spot for the human body. They just need to be given the chance to feel for it & tune into their proprioceptive feedback. Eccentric isometrics provide that opportunity.
1. Focus on sense of feel rather than relying too much on external cues including those mentioned here.
2. Go slow on the eccentric isometrics and find your first and strongest natural stopping point.
3. That stopping point should be approximately at 90 degree joint angles at the hips and knees.
4. Keep the feet relatively straight
5. Activate the daylights out of the feet and ankles by screwing them into the ground and pressing down with your toes (especially the big goes) while still keeping good weight on the heels.
6. Spread the knees apart just enough to avoid valgus collapse and to get them in-line with the hips and ankles, not outside them.
7. Brace the daylights out of your core and abs.
8. Maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.
9. Focus on producing full body from head to toe with no energy leaks anywhere in your kinetic chain.
10. When in doubt, go slower, stay tighter, pause longer, and don’t over-stretch at the bottom.