6 Steps for Walking Out Perfect Squats From a Professional Powerlifter

Are you missing this small, but important detail in your squats?

When it comes to squatting technique, you can find a ton of information about everything from foot placement to the head positioning and all the stuff in between. 

But one of the more overlooked areas of the subject involves the walkout. It’s not only that good info simply isn’t available – the info isn’t out there because most lifters don’t put a lot of thought or concern into the subject.

But you should! In fact, the walkout can make or break a whole set. A good walkout allows you to get set in a tight, braced position, and to have stability and confidence before you even begin to squat. A poorly executed walkout, on the other hand, will have you shifting and shaking all over the place.  

While I use the term “walkout” for simplicity, I’m actually referring to everything that happens from the moment you touch the bar, until the moment you begin to squat. So, using this definition, even those who squat in a monolift need to master the walkout. Read on to find out how!

Six Steps to a Solid Squat Walkout

1. Get your Head Straight

No, I’m not referring to where you’re looking.  I mean before you ever approach the bar, you need to get focused. Cut out any distractions: you shouldn’t be chatting before your set or playing on your phone. You need to mentally prepare for the task ahead.

2. Find Your Grip. 

The proper grip is just wide enough to not cause any shoulder pain. If you grip the bar wider than necessary, you’ll lose upper back tightness, and it will be more difficult to stabilize the bar while you’re squatting.

To allow for a narrower grip even with poor shoulder mobility, check out my tip in this article!

 

3. Brace

I’ve harped on this enough. A proper brace is crucial to any movement; it keeps your lumbar safe and allows for better stability and more efficient transfer of power. Here are some tips on bracing:

4. Unrack

The unrack itself is actually more involved than most people think. You should begin by centering your back under the bar so that both legs support an equal amount of load. Make sure to keep that hard brace – doing so should pull your hips directly under the bar.

The lower back is not involved in the unrack, so if you’re doing a partial good morning here, you need to revisit step 3. You should also have the bar positioned at such a height that you can just barely clear the safety pins when you lock your hips and knees. 

5. Step Back

After you unrack, pause for a second or so to allow the bar to settle before stepping back. If you begin to step back as soon as you unrack the bar, you’ll have to deal with momentum in two different directions (up and back), and that can lead to the bar twisting. 

After the bar settles, you have two options for stepping back:

  • You can first step back with your dominant foot, moving it towards the center of the body. Doing so allows for more stability than stepping straight back. Then, step straight back with your other foot. Finally, take a third step, shifting your dominant foot into the proper squatting stance.
  • You can step straight back with the dominant foot and then straight back with the other foot.

The first option is a bit more stable, but when squatting very heavy weights, I prefer the second in order to save energy. Never take more than three steps when unracking the bar – you’re not going for a Sunday-morning stroll. Be efficient in your movement. Let the bar settle again for a brief period (about a second) before moving on to the next step.

6. Squat

I believe this one is pretty self-explanatory!

Other Tips

  • If you’re competing at a meet that uses a monolift, but don’t have access to one during your training, I strongly suggest that you choose to walk out of the mono. While it seems simple, using the monorack can be pretty disorienting the first time or two, and you don’t want to blow an attempt at a meet simply because you haven’t practiced using one.
  • Walking out in wraps is often more difficult than in sleeves. Again, make sure to practice.
  • Yolk walks may be helpful for getting used to the feeling of supporting a heavy weight on your back while moving your feet.

Practice the steps above and you’re sure to nail your next squat PR!

Feature image from @phdeadlift Instagram page. 

Ben Pollack

Ben Pollack

Ben Pollack is a professional powerlifter and holds the all-time world record raw total of 2039 in the 198-pound class. He has won best overall lifter at the largest raw meets in the world, including the US Open, Boss of Bosses, and Reebok Record Breakers.

Ben earned his Ph.D. in the history and management of strength and fitness from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018, and has published articles in a number of scholarly publications, including The Journal of Sport History, The Journal of Sport Management, and Iron Game History: The Journal of Physical Culture. He also coaches strength athletes of all skill levels, including several internationally-elite powerlifters and world record holders. You can contact Ben through his website (phdeadlift.com) or via email at [email protected]

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