Crash Course: Anderson Squats

by Chris on March 9, 2012

Since I squat so often (usually no less than twice a week minimum) it becomes necessary to perform variations of the movement in order to prevent stagnation and keep my sanity. As much as I enjoy the lift, there are days when the absolute last thing I want is to have a heavy bar on my back. Luckily there are plenty of different squat variations to choose from. One such exercise is the bottom position, or Anderson, squat named after Paul Anderson, one of the strongest squatters of all time. The Anderson squat develops raw squatting strength by eliminating the initial eccentric portion of the lift and thus taking away the stretch reflex that can help you power out of the bottom.

Execution is simple: set the pins of your power rack with the bar resting on them to the desired height, normally where the bar would be when you are at or below parallel. You can always squat from different heights, and in fact that is probably a good idea. Load the bar up, set up underneath it and squat straight up. You may have some difficulty getting set up as you have to wedge yourself under the bar, but this is to be expected. You’ll get used to it with practice. Make sure, however, that you keep a strong setup just like you would when squatting from a normal height. If that explanation confused you watch the video below.

Something else to keep in mind is to pause on the pins after every rep. The whole idea behind this exercise is to take away the stretch reflex that you get after dropping into the hole. Don’t lose your tightness or setup, but allow the elastic energy to dissipate.

Try this squat modification out but be conservative with the weight. You won’t be able to lift quite as much as a normal squat so don’t let your pride get the best of you. Post a comment with your experiences.


David M. Bowden June 8, 2012 at 2:59 pm

I’ve been doing these off and on for the past 4 months in preparation for my first powerlifting competition. I never knew that they had a name!


My goal is 1500# Raw Total @ 198# BW.

Still have about 140# to go before I’m there.

Stop by The Strength Farm .com and say hello.

Chris June 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Nice David! I like cycling these in every now and then. They’re nothing but raw squatting power – no momentum, no nothin’. Try doing them from different heights if you’re not already. Good luck with hitting that total. I will definitely check out the site.

John August 14, 2013 at 4:38 am

Hi Chris I liked reading your article I have used Anderson squats in the past and it really did carryover well to my squat an its one of the best excercises. How can I keep using Anderson squats to still reach new levels of strength in the squat without plateauing?

Christopher Smith August 16, 2013 at 11:50 am

Hey John,

Well for starters you could keep progressing with weight as you get stronger. You could also experiment with using different heights from the pins. I would also recommend cycling them in and out of your program periodically.

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