When it comes to building strength, there are 2 huge, controllable factors that determine strength. They are, in order of importance, neuromuscular coordination and muscle size. Neuromuscular coordination is the ability of your brain, nerves, and muscles to work together efficiently to produce a movement pattern. In everyday language we might refer to this as one’s technique or skill. The second key part is muscle size, otherwise known as the cross sectional area of the muscle. Think of muscles as the engine in a car; muscles are what makes the body go. Neuromuscular coordination is like the driver of the car.
The squat places tremendous load on lots of the muscles in your body, particularly in your legs. Outlined below is a detailed list of the muscles involved in the squat, along with a ranking system of 1-5 to rank how much the muscle is involved in the lift (1 is minimal involvement; 5 is super heavily involved). If a lowly ranked muscle is significantly injured it can still limit performance dramatically. It is possible that individual variation, biomechanics, and form might make a muscle work either a little bit more or a little bit less involved based on how the lift is perform.
|Erectors and Multifidus||3|
|Core (Abs, Obliques)||2|
Note: You might think the core should be higher ranked. In my opinion if the core is holding you back it is because you don’t know how to use it (neuromuscular coordination) rather than the fact that it is actually weak/small (muscle size). And if you don’t know how to use it making the area stronger will only net you minimal gains in that department.
If you believe that increasing the size of your muscles will help improve the squat, then focus on training the muscles that received a 3 or more on the above scale. Give it 3, 6, even 12 months of hard training. Track your progress and try to establish your own personal correlation between your muscle size and your performance on the platform.