I couldn’t think of a catchy intro, so I’m going to just get straight to the point and keep it on point.

Want to squat heavy?  Yes? Then tighten up those lats.

Let’s start with an anatomy lesson – The latissimus dorsi, while technically an upper body or shoulder joint muscle, is also a lower back muscle.  Through its attachments on the lumbar spine and the upper arm bone (the humerus), the lats not only extend and rotate the arm, they also extend the spine.

lat-extension

If you’ve ever witness a suited powerlifter squat, you’ll notice that their elbows may flare out or point backwards.  In this position, the lats are “loose” and aren’t protecting the spine.  The suit, which is designed to provide stiffness and stability can compensate for the lack of protection provided by the lats.

Elbow-Flare

Squeezing your lats during a squat can be tough and exhausting.  As you set up for the squat, grab the bar tightly. With the bar held tightly, roll your elbows forward so they’re right at the side of your torso. Once your arms/elbows are in this position, pull the bar down onto your traps.