Consider what would happen if a person, who has never squatted with a barbell, would do it ten days in a row. The unaccustomed body would suddenly be exposed to a proportionately enormous increase in load. Despite the insufficient recovery time between the training sessions, the person would see a guaranteed increase in strength. Anecdotally, a beginner's strength increases faster and easier than a seasoned weight lifter's. These so called newbie gains are often attributed to new neural stimulus. But I would actually attribute it partly to optimal joint positioning.
As mind boggling as it may seem, there is an technical aspect in the deceivingly simple sport of lifting heavy objects. By the tenth day we will see an indeliberate change in the person's body movement during his squat performance. The altered movement pattern is caused by natural familiarization and plasticity. Along with ten days worth of muscle adaptation and excessive laundry, he will have accumulated new connections between synapses in his rewired brain. Will he find the optimal squat motion in ten days? Unintentionally? No.
But giving some thought to joint positioning, will help the body navigate along an optimal movement path. Limited mobility and flexibility are temporary roadblocks for aspiring athletes. These abilities can be quite easily be improved, but not over night. What you can do already today, is to experiment with joint positioning. So what is joint positioning?
Especially our hips and shoulders are amazingly mobile joints. By tilting these joints even slightly, we can move our center point of gravity and affect the amount of force our body can produce. You can influence the body's habitual joint positioning for instance by switching between high-bar and low-bar squats. You are likely to be able to lift more weights with one of them. If you bother to find out which one it is, you can start lifting heavier weights which will break-down more muscle tissue, produce more testosterone and ultimately build more muscle faster. Which position works for you depends a lot on individual body symmetry. Generally, the more concentrated your center point of gravity is, the more power you can produce.
In search for the optimal joint positioning, we can purposefully use more demanding and advanced lifts. Your optimal squat form might be identical to the one you use in a squat clean. Perhaps your body has figured out a great way to execute a squat clean, but you don't allow your body to use the same movement pattern in your squat.
A full ass-to-grass squat can give much better joint positioning queues than a traditional 90 degree bodybuilding squat. Even if you are content with half-reps (nothing wrong with that) it might be useful from a joint positioning perspective to do full-reps occasionally. For beginner gains to kick in, I definitely recommend full reps.
I recommend you try to push your hip forward so that your butt is almost above your heels in the squat. By keeping a slightly wider stance you can position your hip joint rather between the thighs than behind them. So instead of poking out your butt and spreading your body weight all over the place, you tighten up your body like a space rocket. By concentrating your body weight on top of your heels, you should in theory be able to produce more force against the floor. For the majority of people this won't work because of mobility and flexibility issues, but I still encourage everyone to give it a try. Squat records have been broken with various techniques. Without experimenting with joint positioning, you might not find the optimal technique for breaking your record.
Let me know how your experiments with the joint positioning goes. Drop a comment on Facebook and let's compare notes.
Learn more about speed and strength training by downloading the Outdoor Edition Training Guide. Also, be on the look out for the Fit Businessman book by Eric Snaell.