Want to improve strength, power, and overall athleticism? Then you've gotta squat. This variation will enhance your squatting technique and help you bust through plateaus.
I learned this one from my mentor, strongman competitor Chad Coy. While most squats use elastic energy stored in the muscle to help spring you out of the bottom position, the rocket squat requires your muscles to do ALL of the work.
Starting at the bottom, there's no eccentric/negative component. You're forced to get tight and brace properly at the bottom position of the squat. This is useful for developing "starting strength," meaning you must create force from a dead stop.
Sometimes heavy squats can turn into a movement resembling good mornings when coming out of the bottom of the lift. This exercise helps you work on your sticking points so you can avoid this.
Rocket squats can be tricky to get into, so use these cues:
- Set the safety supports up at your sticking point. For most people, this will be hip level or slightly above.
- To get tight, first lift your hips upward as if doing a good morning. Then simultaneously drop your hips, pull the bar hard into your back, and brace your core as you move into your squat position. If necessary, you can raise and lower your hips a couple times until you feel your glutes, hamstrings, and lats get tight and loaded.
- Forcefully drive your hips up and extend your knees as you move into a standing position.
- After each rep, lift your hips upward into the "good morning" position, then drop them down to get tight in the squat. Doing this will reduce the stored elastic energy in your muscles from your previous lowering of the bar and will require you to retighten and brace on each rep. This ensures you start each squat from a dead stop.