According to Elite powerlifter Dave Tate the number one mistake he sees when people take on a heavy squat is:
Not engaging and tightening all four quadrants of the upper back before beginning the squat.
Not only does this help prevent injury but it should also allow you to move more weight more efficiently. Tate’s 50 second video showing what a tight upper back should look like can also be found at the end of this post. You can also check out Tate’s full post (linked below) for a full explanation and further details.
The article also has a number of useful comments posted by readers. One of the best is the mental cues lifter John Olson provides to ensure he’s got his upper back tight pre-lift:
First, I try to pretend I am trying to bend the bar over my traps like you see in the strongman competitions where they bend rebar over their shoulders.
Second, I try to give the bar a “hug” using the posterior chain muscles of the shoulder girdle.
File these two tips away and give them a try next time you’re back in the gym.