Squats are hard enough as is, and when you don’t have a dialed in squat walkout, then they only become tougher. Any weathered athlete will tell you that a strong squat walkout can be make or break when working with heavier weight.
Like every squat cue, a walkout is a skill that should be sharpened and practiced. More than likely, it’s going to take multiple workouts to figure out what works best for you.
The goal should be consistent performance over time — not immediate perfection.
There are multiple ways to walkout squats, but one of the most popular and easiest to nail is the 3-step squat walkout. In this article, we’ll dive into why squat walkouts matter, how to do the 3-step walkout, and tips to keep in mind.
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3 takeaways from this grindy 182.5kg (403 lb) squat. 1. Mentality is key. I hadn't had over 400 lbs on my back since January 2017 before I ruptured my quad squatting, so needless to say, I was nervous heading into this lift. I kept my mindset, remembered my cues, and somehow made this shit work. 2. Coaching is huge. For the meet, @ryan_espiritu volunteered to coach me & it helped me realize how clutch having a great coach is (thank you, Ryan!). You can hear him yelling "traps" throughout the whole lift, aka my toughest cue to remember. 3. KISS: Keep it simple stupid. Before this lift I thought about my head editor David (@davidthomastao) and what he told me during our last career development talk: KISS. I applied the same logic for this lift and took it all one step at a time. Next meet? Potentially in October or November!
Why Do Squat Walkouts Matter?
When you first start taking lifting seriously, it may not be immediately apparent how important squat walkouts are.
“It’s easy,” they’ll say. “Get under the bar, un-rack the weight, and start squatting!”
But there’s more to it than that. Habits developed early on, especially with mechanics, can be much tougher to break as weight gets heavier and years are invested in the gym.
Squat walkouts are important to master for multiple reasons and these reasons span from physical performance to overall mentality. Perfecting your squat walkout will have three major benefits and these include:
- Performance: Improve movement consistency with un-racking and first descent, which can have carryover to consecutive reps.
- Energy Levels: Limit total energy waste from over setting and taking multiple steps before actually beginning your set.
- Mentality: Can help improve mentality before working with heavier weights. A strong walkout can boost confidence — when it’s performed well consistently, it can come with a stronger belief in oneself and one’s ability to hit the weight. It can also limit time to self doubt oneself.
On top of being important for day-to-day progress, a squat walkout becomes even more important for athletes who compete.
When nerves are going wild on the platform and the legs are shaking more than normal, then the last thing you want is self doubt. Consistency leads to success.
How to Walkout Squats
There are multiple ways to walkout squats, but in this article we’re going to cover one of the most popular and easy options: The 3-Step Squat Walkout.
How to Do the 3-Step Squat Walkout
- Position yourself evenly under the barbell (use the knurling and rings to keep consistency with your centering).
- Low-bar/high-bar squats, it doesn’t matter.
- Step under the bar with the mid-foot aligned with the barbell. Think about creating an evenly stacked tower with the joints.
- Take a deep breath, brace, and lift upwards.
- You can step back with whichever foot you prefer, but I recommend using the non-dominant foot, AKA the foot you plant when kicking a ball. This foot is already accustomed to being planted, so using this as the first stepping foot typically feels best for athletes.
- Once you’ve stepped back with the first foot, then you’ll step back with the second. Generally, the second step will be longer than your first, but this can vary depending on your rack and how deep the j-hooks are.
- The length of this step can vary and it’s your last time stepping with this foot. A good rule of thumb is to use your balance and stability as a gauge for how far you should step.
- After you’ve taken your second step, you’ll make your final step by bringing the first foot in-line with the second and establishing your squat stance.
- Screw the feet into the floor.
The 3-step squat walkout is great because it’s universal and can benefit pretty much every athlete. Moving heavy weight is tough enough, so keeping a walkout simple is a nice way to limit information overload.
Squat Walkout Tips
1. Consistency Over Perfection
It’s important to remember that consistency should be the goal when working squat walkouts. Take the idea of perfection out of your vocabulary, and work to improve consistency during every set. Why?
It’s easy to let perfection skew what could be a “good” set when things don’t go accordingly to plan, so understand upfront that rarely squat walkouts will all feel exactly the same.
2. Racks All Differ
Every rack will have slightly different j-hooks, so it’s important to adapt to your surroundings during warm-ups. If you’re working in a different rack, then use your warm-up sets to dial in the depth of your first and second steps. For example, deeper j-hooks will usually need a shallower first step, then a larger second.
3. Find What Works for You
At the end of the day, your walkout should reflect what you prefer before starting squat sets. If you love the 3-step squat walkout, then run with it. If you prefer taking slightly more steps, or walking out squats differently, then do so!
Squat walkouts, like every skill in the gym, need to be practiced and dialed in to suit your needs best. The 3-step squat walkout is an easy method to experiment with, but it’s certainly not the only way to walk out squats.