MMA UK’s resident Strength and Conditioning Guru discusses the power of squats!


By Ian Frood CSC dip


I remember a conversation I had with two PT colleagues of mine, one a Kick boxer and the other a Free-runner. We were talking (well they were talking, I just butted in) about how to improve their performance in their chosen sports. I asked them what they did in their workouts (hoping to find something there and Bingo.) The Free-runner reeled off a Body-building upper body workout and the Kick boxer a corrective posture workout. My first bit of advice was where is the squats? Their responses had me flabbergasted (that’s right you heard it flabbergasted) they both said they didn‘t want bulky thighs as this would slow them down (Hello Mayfly anybody in there, think Mayfly think.) Clearly they have never seen Mike Tyson, Michael MacDonald or any of New Zealand All Blacks, big bulky thighed guys who were/are fast and agile and more importantly powerful. What worried me the most was that this was coming from fitness professionals.

            Sorry had to get that off my chest it has been eating away at me for months. As you can guess I hold the Squat in quite high esteem, this was not always the case. I used to avoid them like the plague, but over time and with a little more education I don‘t think I have trained unless I bust out some heavy squats.

What is the squat?

“   In Strength training the squat is an exercise that trains primarily the muscles of the thighs, hips and buttocks, as well as strengthening the bones, ligaments and insertion of the tendons throughout the lower body. Squats are considered a vital exercise for increasing the strength and size of the legs and buttocks


What should you lift?


A well respected strength coach once told me when I asked him how much you should lift, and I quote “A decently strong athlete should be able to squat ………………………………………..    (note I added the pause for dramatic effect) twice their Bodyweight!)

That’s right twice your bodyweight.

Why Squat?


If you want a more powerful punch or kick, stronger shots and take downs, then you better get squatting. Experts recommend before you do any kind of power work or plyometrics, a base level of squat strength is required of at least 1.5 times your bodyweight. Power is developed in the lower body and is transferred where it is required. So having strong quads and hamstrings is a must.




The movement begins from a standing position. Weights are often used, either in the hand or as a bar braced across the trapezius muscle in the upper back.[2] The movement involves bending the knees and hips to lower the torso and accompanying weight, then returning to the upright position. The squat can continue to a number of depths. Quarter squats do not bring the thighs parallel to the ground, while parallel squats do. Most training occurs between a parallel and a quarter squat, but depends on training level, skill, and purpose of the exercise. Squatting below parallel qualifies a squat as deep while squatting above it qualifies as shallow.[2]

As the body descends, the hips and knees undergo flexion, the ankle dorsiflexes and muscles around the joint contract eccentrically, reaching maximal contraction at the bottom of the movement while slowing and reversing descent. The muscles around the ankle work to provide stability. Returning to vertical contracts the muscles concentrically, and the hips and knees undergo extension while the ankle plantarflexes.[2]

  • Taken from Wikipedia


So there you have it folks if you want to improve performance, a good starting point is to get squatting.

Ian Frood CSC Dip

“Train hard, Train Smart”



  1. I only recently started loving the squats. My goal is to go 3 x times my body weight. I’m only doing shallow 2 x but I’m going to drop back weight and work on deep.
    I don’t think it will build bulky legs if you keep your calories intake low … you can build muscles with out lots of food!

    • Squats are key, especially for pushing off with speed

    • Raymond,

      Squat depth is key, don’t sacrifice depth for weight.

      At the start of the year I managed to get my squat from 120kg to twice my BW (160kg) but I found I was barely doing a 3/4 squat, so I have tappered the weight back by 50/60 kg and work depth strength and my depth has improved and I find my feet have not got to be so wide.

      Good Luck Happy Squating

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