My gym is doing some remodeling; they've moved the only squat rack and it has me completely discombobulated. It was way back in a nice, quiet auxiliary weight room, and I got used to focusing on a blank wall two feet in front of me. Now it's in the middle of the main workout floor; I'm staring across twenty feet of open space and it's giving me vertigo; I almost fell over while doing a set today. The remodeling is supposed to take two weeks; I'm tempted to just take a rest. Other than that, any suggestions on focusing?
Focus on the spot between your feet... Works for me!
Kat. I know a few people who can get away with looking down while squatting. Without exception they all have extremely protuding abs/bellies which hit their thighs at the bottom of the squat and keep the back from rounding. For those of us not, ummm, 'gifted' in such a way I would say never, ever, look down while squatting. There is an old saying along the lines of 'where the head goes the body goes'. Wrestlers for example will push down on a persons head to control the body. In Chin Na controlling the head is often used to close the the chain and control the entire body.
What does this have to do with squatting? If the head goes down way too often the back rounds. Pick a point in front of you and focus on it.
In a powerlifting meet you always have this problem. You are looking at a crowd. Especially in national/international meets it can be a rather large and boisterous crowd. You learn to use the energy of the crowd if it is there, but I suspect I am a typical lifter in that when i am squatting you could set off a bomb and I wouldn't notice. You have to focus - totally focus. This is a good chance to work on that.
Getting into a routine works for me. I start by staring at the bar and tightening up and thinking about exploding out of the hole. I approach the bar with intent. I'm thinking of laying some serious hurt on that pretty bar. I grip the bar, using the marking of the bar to make sure my hands are symmetrical and I position my chest centered on the bar. I'm looking down at the bar during this time. Normally I give the bar a lit bump at this point to let it know who is the boss. I then duck under the bar carefully, find the place on my back where I hold the bar, take a deep breath, push my abs against my belt and lift the weight off. I do this quite powerfully. I find that for my psyche getting a strong lift-off often means a lot in terms of knowing I can handle the weight. I want it to feel light, not heavy, in the liftoff.
I walk the weight back with my head down. I do this because in a competition if the judge see the head down he will not give the squat signal prematurely.
Once I'm back a few feet I start moving my feet out wider and position them in my stance. When I feel comfortable with my feet I begin to tighten up and get ready. I start with the feet. I put my weight on the outside of my feet. I go up to the knee and consciously push them out. This in turn tightens my thighs and glutes. I'm sucking air at this point. Then I lock my lower back and push my chest out and look up. I'm locked, cocked and ready to rock.
I think of the judge giving the signal, even in the gym.
I take one last deep breathe and push my abs against my belt. I lower myself by pushing my butt back and my knees out. I'm looking straight ahead, but I'm really not seeing anything. By this point I'm totally within myself.
At the bottom the focus is on keeping the abs pressed and dropping slightly with the hips into a controlled dive. I come out of the hole by driving my traps back into the bar and trying to get my hips forward. I don't even think of lifting the bar or raising my hips. I try and get the hips forward and keep the bar over my centre of gravity. I keep pushing the knees out and abs out during this entire time.
Down right the bar starts coming up almost on it own and its simply a matter of driving though. My second or third reps aren't quite as focused because by this time I've found my groove and confidence. To me getting that first rep in with maximum focus sets the stage for all the other reps. As a powerlifter I rarely do more than 6 reps anyhow.
- Keith Hobman