My first squat workout consisted of 8 repetitions at 185 pounds. I can still remember it to this day, as one of the football players made some wise-ass comment and called me "Squatasaurus."
In my first official powerlifting meet, I squatted a whopping 336 at a bodyweight around 176. Needless to say, I didn't know squat.
Over the years, I tried tons of different programs - clusters, wave-loads, bands, chains, 5x5, Russian squat cycles, the works. I also tried tons of different squatting styles; I started out narrow, then moved ultra wide (ala Westside), and then settled on something in between. All I knew was the squat was the most difficult lift for me, but I wanted it to be my best.
Over the years, I slowly built my squat. I think the numbers went something like this:
Meet #1 - 336
Meet #2 - 380
Meet #3 - 407
Meet #4 - 385 (yeah, this one sucked - that's another story!)
Meet #5 - 385 (this REALLY sucked - welcome to a National meet!)
Meet #6 - 424?
Meet #7 - 446
Meet #8 - 473
Meet #9 - 490 (couldn't eke out the big 5 bills)
Meet #10 - 515
Meet #11 - 530 (I think I could've gone 545-550 this day, but a miscue on the opener wrecked that notion)
I'm not 100% on all the numbers, but that looks pretty darn close. First meet was in December of 2000, last meet in May of '05. I did approximately two meets per year, except for '01-'02 where I did at least three.
Let's be honest: I was never a pretty squatter. I have a short torso and long limbs, so it's more of a squat/good morning hybrid. While I'm nowhere near their level, my squat looked a lot like a Brad Gillingham or Nick Tylutki. Being an athlete growing up, I inherently knew the best way for me to squat big was to squat fast. The slow, controlled thing just didn't work for me.
I think the thing that consistently drove my numbers up were hard work, a laser-like focus on my goals and always refining technique. I had a video clip up here last year where I was squatting again and the "stroke" has never felt quite the same after the surgery. The knee feels fine, but training has been inconsistent at best and without coaching getting dialed in is very hard to do.
My goal right now is to get the technical aspects back, and then to start driving the poundages back up. If you want to grow your squat, I think I've written some decent articles on the topic - be sure to check these out:
10 Tips for Flawless Squattin'
6 Tricks for a Sexy Squat
The Modified 5x5 Program (this is the routine I used to go from 420ish to 530)
Olympic vs. Powerlifting Squats
While it's not a quick and easy process, take the time and dedicate yourself to growing your squat. Whether your goal is jakt legs, aesthetics or just a big squat, your hard work will be rewarded over time.
PS I'll do my best to find a video clip of a competition squat; I know I have one somewhere!