Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent
One of the biggest pitfalls with the non-beginner and intermediate lifter is doing "junk" reps.
A tell tale sign of your volume not being quality volume is getting through your sets x reps at the prescribed weight every week, then when it comes to max out day, you get the same or worse than your previous max and your technical flaws are still the same.
Intent is the name of the game when performing volume, 50-80% has a lot of room for error in terms of effort and movement quality, the point of performing volume, speed work, reps etc. at sub-maximal loads is to practice voluntarily producing maximum force with good technique. If you're usual pitfall in the snatch is the bar loops out and you don't shrug on the pull, your intent needs to be bar close, shrug to finish.
Otherwise you fall into the same trap you were before, looping the bar out and not shrugging. If you spend 100's of reps reinforcing the same technical flaw, you best believe it's going to rear its ugly head when you go to your max.
The key to making your reps count, whether it's on the competition movements or the variations, set yourself a target/focus point for the lift and make sure you're drilling it on the warm ups and working sets.
One of the things I remember being the most frustrating in my first few years of training was hitting plateaus in the squat. The squat was really my thing, I found it quite easy to squat with good form and it seemed like putting a few kegs on my 1RM every month was like clockwork.... until it wasn't.
We all remember when the newbie gains stop, when just going to the gym and doing 5 x 5 or 3 x10 ad nauseam doesn't do shit anymore.
One of the things that is great about being a beginner is once you get your form sorted the squat is as simple as - put it on your back, sit down and stand up for this many sets x reps with this much weight.
In this little series I'm going to give you a few strategies that I have used and still use to break through road blocks you will encounter during your training to get a big squat. In this part we're going to go over intent during your squat and also how to properly use speed work to improve your power so the squat increases and your strength carries over to over stuff like jumping, sprinting, hitting, weightlifting etc.
One of the thing I see people NOT doing is having the intent to move the weight with speed and aggression.
Move the weight with the intent to produce maximal speed and force.
Compensatory Acceleration Training (CAT)
"Lifting a submaximal weight with maximal force will provide many of the strength training adaptations of lifting maximal weights. On the same token, lifting a maximal weight with the intent to move it as quickly as possible provides explosive strength benefits. The take home point is that your body adapts, in a large part, to your CNS's intent to move the weight as quickly as possible." - Josh Bryant
What do you actually intend to do during your squat ?
I know for the longest time I just tried to stand up, that was it, stand up.
Until I read about CAT, when you start trying to put as much speed and force into the bar with each rep no matter the weight you make even the light weights (<50%) a viable training stimulus, rather than only the heavy or hard sets being the worthwhile ones.
This is probably what immediately gave me and the people I coached transferable strength from the squat into jumping and sprinting and also made our squats a lot better. When you step under the bar your intent has to be to move out of the hole with maximum speed and force!
Get Faster to Get Stronger
Two very simple ways to start improving your speed are to start having "speed squats" and jumps in your training.
1. Speed Squats
2. Jump Before Every Squat Session
Jumping, especially resisted jumping can improve your ability to move heavier loads at speed, it also serves as a great warm up to make sure you're ready to go before you squat. My two favourite variations for improving the squat are seated box jumps and weighted seated box jumps.
These rep schemes done EMOM will work well:
The emphasis is trying to achieve violent triple extension as you come off the box, the box height you jump to doesn't matter so much.
Mix up your jump training, one week use light weights and see how higher box you can use for 12 x 2, 5 x 5etc.
Next week have a day where you jump to a low box and see how much weight you can hold in each hand.
These two strategies can be enough to jump start your squat progress again and keep it going for quite a while, give them a go for a month and see how it affects your squat and the rest of your training and performance too!