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ATG Oly Squat Question

Hey, I’ve been having a problem lately that has been recurring.

It seems like every time I go remotely heavy, my RIGHT knee caves. Doesn’t matter what stance I use. I can go narrow, medium, or medium-wide and am flexible enough for them all and to stay on the heels.

It happens more on back squat than front squat but happens on both and my form is v similar. My knee has been giving tiny twinges for the first time ever, so I know I have to cut the weight down a LOT (this is happening with like 80% of my 1RM and up).

So, what is going on here? I hear hamstring weakness frequently because they serve as a stabilizer even though they are slacked, but it’s only my right knee. Maybe hips?

my other question is:

(1) do you guys really push the knees far out the entire rep on all of your squats? specific to o-lifting

It seems like a lot of the olympic lifters in all weight classes just squat up and down with the knees pointed the same direction as the toes (although sometimes they get pushed out at the top, or in on very heavy attempts). It seems like this might recruit the hips more and quads less. I could be wrong. If these are different things are there examples of people with both styles, and what is better suited for taller/longer limbed and heavier lifters?

my PL friend has me push the knees WAY out even when I go ATG, is this standard? Gotta use less weight when I do this. But I can also point the toes more forward and/or go narrower and it seems like my knees kind of push forward. Nothing really feels more natural and the problem happens with both. I have to use less weight with either stance to keep the knees out, and by pushing them out, they go WAY out.

What do you guys think? long and complicated post but I just can’t figure this out.

Either way, I’m dropping the weight for now, but I’d really like input.

Tough to diagnose over the internet…

As far as the knees out question, most PL’ers force their knees out as wide as possible because they are using a very wide stance, and this actually puts their knees in line with the toes. If your knee(s) are caving in on the way up it puts a ton of stress on the joint. That’s why you want to force your knees out.

If you are squatting with a narrow stance, then you don’t need to force your knees outside of your toes. You still want to keep them pushed out to activate the glutes and keep the stress off the joints, but you don’t want to be squatting bow legged. That would just cause a whole other world of problems.

And the narrower the squat, the more likely you will be to push your knees out over the toes, especially ATG.

right that’s exactly what I mean. So you want to keep them “pushed out”, but not pointing further out than the toes? In other words, just don’t let the knees cave IN. The problem is… how?

fyi, I let the knees track forward as far as possible in all of my squats to make full depth.

See, when I take peoples advice and try to actively push the knees out, it’s what you said- I go bow-legged. Knees are WAY far out. Sometimes my feet actually moved and toes get pushed outwards.

If I don’t try to do so, on the heavy attempts, the right knee caves (which I know is really bad)

Obviously I don’t know what stance squat is best for me, but my basic squat of initiating at the knees, dropping to the bottom position, and rebounding there, is the same no matter what, and for all of them I have this problem.

I question whether my friends advice of using the wider stance and pushing the knees out far the entire way is best because he’s a powerlifter and does his squats a lot differently than me, and never squats as far down either.

as far as how olympic lifters squat, there is some variation so it’s pretty tough to compare. The only common theme seems to be the hard rebound from the bottom to above parallel, and them sometimes the knees seem to get pushed further out to the sides, and sometimes not.

And that’s on very heavy cleans, so it’s different from a training squat where you went the best possible form.

thoughts? any weightlifters who have an idea as well would be appreciated

I know this is long-winded but I’ve literally never seen this addressed, anywhere. I’ve only seen people say “push out teh knees” which doesn’t really say much…

if it would help, I can take a video the next time I squat or just take one tommorow and go very light to show the form difference and if it’s relevant. I squatted today so I’m not gonna be able to go heavy again till the weekend

video will help, get that up here asap so we can help more, could be a back thing just keeping tight who knows

you could have a weak VMO and hence your knee would cave in. Also you could have injuries to the medial structures of the knee (ACL, miniscus etc).

Either way a quick trip to the physio will rule out injury. If thats the case then it could be your technique

Lol. You cannot compare your squat to your powerlifter friend, and it would be dangerous to do so.

If your going bowlegged, it sounds like you are trying too skinny a stance.

When you say your knee collapses, does it collapse inward or outward?

Powerlifters stance, they don’t go past parallel, so it puts more stress on their knees when they only go to that height. Thus they want as little knee activation as possible.
Olympic lifters go ass to grass, and because their front squat technique is so much more utilized than back squats, it is important to keep the torso as vertical as possible so as to not be limited by your upper back strength. The only way to keep your torso vertical whilst atg is to let the knees (mostly calf and ankle flexibility) go far forward over the toes. Olympic lifters don’t get knee problems letting their knees go over their toes because their lifts don’t ever stop at the 90 degree angle like powerlifter’s lifts.

I hope that helps.

Forevernade

do box squats pressure knees since ur stoping at 90 degrees or no?

How much effort do you dedicate to single leg work?

Probably not enough (based on my observations of people with this issue).

have you tried turning your feet out a little more?

[quote]actionjeff wrote:

Obviously I don’t know what stance squat is best for me, but my basic squat of initiating at the knees, dropping to the bottom position, and rebounding there, is the same no matter what, and for all of them I have this problem.

[/quote]

Anyone catch this part? I’ve usually read to break at the hips first, or at least hips and knees simultaneously. And don’t bounce out of the hole.

[quote]latenight_lifter wrote:
have you tried turning your feet out a little more?[/quote]

yeah. It doesn’t really make a difference. If I do it wider and actively push the knees out, they go way out (I think someone described this as bow-legged).If I go narrower, the same thing happens. If I ever try to push the knees out with the toes straight ahead, the foot position actually changes and the toes get pushed to the side.

Basically, actively trying to push the knees out always results in them going way way out to the side, and not doing so causes the right one to go in on heavier attempts.

just to be clear, when I say push the knees out I mean out to the side. I assume that’s what everyone means. I always utilize a full ROM and my knees/ankles go to full flexion.

here’s I think an example of what I mean with the style of squatting:

notice how the knees kind of getting pushed forward past parallel instead of out/to the side. Is he “pushing the knees out”? It seems a lot different vs. the knees getting actively pushed out to the side- is muscle recruitment different as well? Does my question make any more sense now?

I’m just a bit conflicted here about what is proper form for an atg squat. Because I can do it either way.

[quote]MrTangerineSpedo wrote:
actionjeff wrote:

Obviously I don’t know what stance squat is best for me, but my basic squat of initiating at the knees, dropping to the bottom position, and rebounding there, is the same no matter what, and for all of them I have this problem.

Anyone catch this part? I’ve usually read to break at the hips first, or at least hips and knees simultaneously. And don’t bounce out of the hole.[/quote]

this is a full oly back squat, it’s different. I do pause squats as well but I’ve been told it’s important to train the rebound.

forever,

I know that stuff. The stance doesn’t make a difference. Not sure what you mean by inward or outward? It doesn’t collapse, the knee and leg just caves in. instead of staying in the direction of the toes.

Pretty sure my knee isn’t injured. I have no idea about VMO and had to look that up to see what it is.

I have no interested in box squatting. I used to do pistols but it’s been a couple months, no other unilateral work. What’s good, lunges?

Modi:

"
If you are squatting with a narrow stance, then you don’t need to force your knees outside of your toes. You still want to keep them pushed out to activate the glutes and keep the stress off the joints,

If you are squatting with a narrow stance, then you don’t need to force your knees outside of your toes. You still want to keep them pushed out to activate the glutes and keep the stress off the joints,"

I am a bit confused and don’t understand the difference. as I’ve been told to push the knees out, but doesn’t that automatically mean pushing them further to the side than the toes, or slightly bowlegged?

Typically this issue is related to the lack of unilateral work people include in their programs. Also, the VMO is more related to patellar tracking, while caving of the whole knee joint inwards could be influenced more by disfunction in the muscles of the hip (glute med, etc).

Just try some one legged work (with solid form) for a month and see what happens to your squat. If it is still an issue, you may have a joint immobility somewhere between you hip and ankle on that leg.

Just my two cents…

Don’t think of it as a “push the knees out” concept. Try to “rip the floor apart with your feet”. This might help to activate the hips, which could better stabilize your kneeswhen coming out of the hole…

I don’t have any current vids or a way to take one today and I’m heading out of town for a week tommorow night

but I’ve got a vid from 4-5 months ago on my harddrive that I just put on youtube

this looks like 90kg, I think when I took this my best FS was around 105. I’m much stronger now, but ya:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyYeIweXF9W

the problem isn’t as pronounced here since it’s more recent, looks like I start going in on the 3rd rep on the 90kg FS. Nowadays it’s ONLY my right leg, and it’s only like 105/110kg and heavier that this starts happening.

I don’t have a BS video but it’s about the same. My technique is a bit better now but it’s not a big difference.

  • at the end, I found a vid of me doing a random set of front squats after snatching without much weight.

I can’t really tell if my knees are getting pushed out and to the side on any of these reps. I don’t have a vid but if you did it direct from the front, with that stance, with me trying to push the knees out nowadays, they would go way way way out.

alright enough gibberish for now. These don’t really do how I squat justice as I go a bit deeper and my form is a bit different, especially since the problem is more often with back squat.

Basically if I tried a max attempt right now ,my right knee would cave, and if I tried to force it out I would miss the lift. and if it was less weight, I’d try to force it out and would make the lift but my knees would be way to the side.

I’m not sure if this is OK or not, or what I should be shooting for. It’s really a different motion and I’ll try to get a recent vid by next week.

-Jeff

[quote]Jimmy the Saint wrote:
I am a bit confused and don’t understand the difference. as I’ve been told to push the knees out, but doesn’t that automatically mean pushing them further to the side than the toes, or slightly bowlegged?

Don’t think of it as a “push the knees out” concept. Try to “rip the floor apart with your feet”. This might help to activate the hips, which could better stabilize your kneeswhen coming out of the hole…[/quote]

that’s interesting. I can’t really conceptualize what you mean but I’ll give it a try

so, should the knees be getting pushed out more to the side than the toes or not, at any point? lol

maybe I worry too much, but when you can squat 30kg less than your max and still have the same form breakdown problem, I think it’s worth delving into!

I don’t see how you guys full squat with your toes pointed in front of you. That shit kills my knees. I have to point them out at about 45 degrees and let my knees naturally track over them, more like this:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4919278076999364233

Just for the record, I hate the statement at the end. For pete’s sake, at least use spotters or a power rack when going heavy.

I got surprised by a failed rep yesterday. Coming out of the hole, I just flat-out got stuck because I lost focus and didn’t drive hard enough. If I didn’t have spotter racks on my setup, I’d have been on my face.

looks to me like hes more like 15-20 degrees external rotation, which I think is what most people (inc. myself)squat with?

and sick video. There are some good vids of him in competition and his technique is pretty incredible

The first set of front squats (in the white tee) looked ok, but you’re soft as hell at the bottom. The first few reps you look like you’re about to fold in half. It looks like you’re tryna catch a bounce on the later reps, but you’re going about it totally wrong. You’re just slamming straight into the ground.

The second round of front squats weren’t as good. You’re breaking at the knees too early, and your stance looks a little wide.

With the back squats you’re breaking way too early at the knees. I’m not saying you should do a GM and then drop into the squat, but breaking at the same time’s good.

As for “knees out”. Your knees should stay over your feet. Pretty simple really. If you’ve an ultra wide stance, you really need to push your knees out hard to keep them over your feet. If you’re squatting with shoulder stance, not so much.