#17 – Warm up your CNS, not just your muscles
When warming up you need to prep more than your muscles. Stretching and mild cardio can get your blood flowing and body temperature up, but warm up sets need to be structured to prime your central nervous system as well as your muscles.
Once you start using more than 60% of your one rep max, don’t make jumps in weight greater than 10% of your max. This allows you to gradually “wake up” your central nervous system, and to help recruit as many muscle fibers as possible.
Maximal muscle fiber recruitment helps a weight feel lighter, and will work to reduce the risk of injury.
#18 – Save your shoulders, widen your grip
I learned this tip the hard way. For nearly 2 years my shoulders killed me while squatting. Folks recommended every possible solution under the sun, from stretching to decreasing my squatting frequency. I tried each of these, but nothing helped.
Eventually I discovered that my sheer bulk and shoulder size simply made squatting with a narrow hand spacing foolish. As soon as I took my grip on the bar wide – and I mean WIDE – my shoulders felt better.
If you are a bigger or older trainee, or if your shoulders simply bother you while squatting, it’s ok to make the switch to a wider grip. I was able to hit my biggest competition squats this way.
#19 – Nothing is better than squats for leg development
Yes, leg presses can help build your legs. Yes, hack squats and lunges can also help build good leg size. But they are not a replacement for the barbell squat.
If you choose to avoid squats you can still build quality leg size, but other exercises are no replacement for the barbell squat. Squat, squat and squat some more.
#20 – Your quads might never get sore
Squats never made my quads sore. Ever. They killed my hamstrings though. Despite this seemingly confusing juxtaposition, my quads are now huge but my hamstrings remain as one of my weakest and smallest body parts.
Don’t worry if squats don’t make your quads sore. That doesn’t mean they aren’t growing.