Progression 1- Bodyweight
As with many other lifts, first master it using your bodyweight.
I have tried and read about many ways to teach the squat. Over the years I have found that the “Stripper Squat” does as good a job as any.
Because I detail the Stripper Squat in this post, I won’t go into much detail here.
If you’re experiencing difficulty getting to a parallel position or below when squatting, this is probably what you’re looking for.
Ultimately, this is what you’re looking to achieve before you progress:
Progression 2- DB/KB
Once you’ve mastered the bodyweight squat, you’re ready to start adding weight. I prefer to start with a Kettlebell(s) or Dumbbell(s) held in front of the body.
Here’s a video of a Kettlebell Squat:
Notice how the technique stays the same. This should be the case for all of the progressions/stages. If at any time you feel your technique is starting to breakdown, I suggest you lower the weight or move back to the previous progression.
If you don’t have access to Kettlebells, here’s a way to perform the same exercise with a Dumbbell:
At some point during this progression, you may notice that your arms become the limiting factor (your arms are fatiguing before your legs).
If you notice this is starting to occur but you’re not ready for the final progression (barbell), try holding Kettlebells in the “rack” position:
If you don’t have access to Kettlebells, here’s an alternative:
Once you’re comfortable and confident with these options, you’re ready to progress.
Progression 3- Barbell
The barbell squat, is what I find a lot of people rush to before building the proper foundation.
Although I’m personally not a big fan of a straight bar for squats, I do know that oftentimes that’s the only bar available to squat with.
Here’s a video of me squatting with a Safety Squat Bar.
Again, note that the technique is the same. If you feel your technique is breaking down, consider lowering the weight to see what impact that has.