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Back Squat Form Check


#1

So after MONTHS of only Front Squatting I decided it's time I start adding the back squat back into my routine since I am transitioning into Olympic lifting.

I just wanted feedback on form. It looks like I still have that rounding at the bottom so I'll keep on aggressively stretching my hamstrings/calves/hips. I swear I feel like I'm staying tight the whole time so I'm thinking it's just a mobility issue.

It's only 95lbs so it's light as hell.

Any feedback will be appreciated!


#2

I think it’s weak hips and lack of hip muscle engagement.

It doesn’t look like you’re forcing your hips to close with your hip flexors. Create tension in your hip flexors (same feeling as pulling your knees to your chest) while pushing your knees out to engage your gluteus medius. This combination will rotate your hips forward to match the angle of your torso. Remember to brace your abs as hard as possible while doing this as well.


#3

[quote]lift206 wrote:
I think it’s weak hips and lack of hip muscle engagement.

It doesn’t look like you’re forcing your hips to close with your hip flexors. Create tension in your hip flexors (same feeling as pulling your knees to your chest) while pushing your knees out to engage your gluteus medius. This combination will rotate your hips forward to match the angle of your torso. Remember to brace your abs as hard as possible while doing this as well.[/quote]

Thanks man. So I just tried what you said and I felt tension in my hip flexors and glutes but my hip didn’t fully rotate forward, so I’m thinking I might have weak hips like you said.

How should I remedy this? BB Hip Thrusts? Trap Bar DLs?

In terms of lower body exercises the only lifts I’m doing right now are Front Squats, Deadlifts (conventional), RDLs.


#4

[quote]isdatnutty wrote:
so I’m thinking I might have weak hips like you said.

How should I remedy this? BB Hip Thrusts? Trap Bar DLs?
[/quote]

Back squats.

You’re using front squat form for your back squats right now; you’ve been doing front squats exclusively and it shows. Give yourself some time, add weight and the issue will sort itself out.

PS I find form checks with low weights utterly pointless. You won’t move like this when you have 200lbs on the bar anyway.


#5

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

Back squats.

You’re using front squat form for your back squats right now; you’ve been doing front squats exclusively and it shows. Give yourself some time, add weight and the issue will sort itself out.

PS I find form checks with low weights utterly pointless. You won’t move like this when you have 200lbs on the bar anyway.[/quote]

Thanks man!

So since I do Olympic back squats isn’t my form supposed to be pretty close to a front squat? I’ve always heard the only difference between the front squat and Olympic squats is that the bar going from the front to back. Please correct me if I’m wrong!

You are probably right about the light weight form checks. I’ve noticed with heavier weights I automatically tighten up way more. Next week I’ll ramp up to a heavy top set of 5 and post the video again. Thanks!


#6

This is the back squat form I’m shooting for.


#7

[quote]isdatnutty wrote:
So since I do Olympic back squats isn’t my form supposed to be pretty close to a front squat? I’ve always heard the only difference between the front squat and Olympic squats is that the bar going from the front to back. Please correct me if I’m wrong!
[/quote]

You are wrong, sort of. If they were supposed to look identical, there would be no reasons for weightlifters to do both. You don’t have to shoot your arse back and lever the weight up with your hips like a powerlifter, but a few degrees more forward lean, thus engaging the spinal erectors and hamstrings more, is expected. Look at the video, around the 20 sec mark. His forward lean is very subtle but if he were front squatting with this back angle he’d be close to dropping the bar in front. As I said, I think this will sort itself out when the weight gets heavier.


#8

The best thing to do is to make sure those muscles are firing throughout the range of motion for all your lifts. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a variation of squat or variation of deadlift. Just make sure they’re firing so that you can strengthen them. If you don’t feel them working then do some isolation work before the compound movement to warm them up.

The angle of pelvic tilt depends on which of the core muscles you’re using. They include your erectors, abs, hip flexors and gluteus medius. If your abs and glutes are very weak (or not used) and your hip flexors and/or erectors are very strong, you can have a tendency for tilting the pelvis forward. Ideally you want all these muscles contracting hard to keep your hips stable and your torso angle controlled. Just be aware of it and focus on this area in training. Remember to brace your abs as hard as possible because this is also very important. It definitely takes time to get all this down so don’t expect immediate results. It’ll take some time. Eventually it’ll become second nature and you’ll only think of getting everything tight.

When learning this, I found I had to concentrate harder on my glutes for back squat since it was easier to engage my hip flexors. For front squats it was easier to contract my glutes and harder to engage my hip flexors. Ideally you want all your core muscles working when transferring load through your hips. Hope that helps.


#9

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
You are wrong, sort of. If they were supposed to look identical, there would be no reasons for weightlifters to do both. You don’t have to shoot your arse back and lever the weight up with your hips like a powerlifter, but a few degrees more forward lean, thus engaging the spinal erectors and hamstrings more, is expected. Look at the video, around the 20 sec mark. His forward lean is very subtle but if he were front squatting with this back angle he’d be close to dropping the bar in front. As I said, I think this will sort itself out when the weight gets heavier.
[/quote]

Cool man, I definitely see that. I noticed when I FS I’m pretty vertical, but when I do BS I can tell I am leaning forward a bit. Sounds good though, I’ll keep slowly adding the weight to the BS and see how it goes.

I just get worried because two years ago I messed up my back from doing them wrong and took about 3 months to heal, so since then I get a little paranoid about it.


#10

The best thing to do is to make sure those muscles are firing throughout the range of motion for all your lifts. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a variation of squat or variation of deadlift. Just make sure they’re firing so that you can strengthen them. If you don’t feel them working then do some isolation work before the compound movement to warm them up.

The angle of pelvic tilt depends on which of the core muscles you’re using. They include your erectors, abs, hip flexors and gluteus medius. If your abs and glutes are very weak (or not used) and your hip flexors and/or erectors are very strong, you can have a tendency for tilting the pelvis forward. Ideally you want all these muscles contracting hard to keep your hips stable and your torso angle controlled. Just be aware of it and focus on this area in training. Remember to brace your abs as hard as possible because this is also very important. It definitely takes time to get all this down so don’t expect immediate results. It’ll take some time. Eventually it’ll become second nature and you’ll only think of getting everything tight.

When learning this, I found I had to concentrate harder on my glutes for back squat since it was easier to engage my hip flexors. For front squats it was easier to contract my glutes and harder to engage my hip flexors. Ideally you want all your core muscles working when transferring load through your hips. Hope that helps.


#11

[quote]lift206 wrote:
The best thing to do is to make sure those muscles are firing throughout the range of motion for all your lifts. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a variation of squat or variation of deadlift. Just make sure they’re firing so that you can strengthen them. If you don’t feel them working then do some isolation work before the compound movement to warm them up.

The angle of pelvic tilt depends on which of the core muscles you’re using. They include your erectors, abs, hip flexors and gluteus medius. If your abs and glutes are very weak (or not used) and your hip flexors and/or erectors are very strong, you can have a tendency for tilting the pelvis forward. Ideally you want all these muscles contracting hard to keep your hips stable and your torso angle controlled. Just be aware of it and focus on this area in training. Remember to brace your abs as hard as possible because this is also very important. It definitely takes time to get all this down so don’t expect immediate results. It’ll take some time. Eventually it’ll become second nature and you’ll only think of getting everything tight.

When learning this, I found I had to concentrate harder on my glutes for back squat since it was easier to engage my hip flexors. For front squats it was easier to contract my glutes and harder to engage my hip flexors. Ideally you want all your core muscles working when transferring load through your hips. Hope that helps.[/quote]

Thanks for that explanation! I have noticed when I do exercises to “fire my glutes” before I workout I tend to have a MUCH better Front Squat/Deadlift sessions than if I don’t. I think my core/erectors have decent strength, but my glutes/hips are weak in comparison. Thanks for advice brotha, I’ll keep all of this in mind!


#12

[quote]isdatnutty wrote:
Cool man, I definitely see that. I noticed when I FS I’m pretty vertical, but when I do BS I can tell I am leaning forward a bit. Sounds good though, I’ll keep slowly adding the weight to the BS and see how it goes.

I just get worried because two years ago I messed up my back from doing them wrong and took about 3 months to heal, so since then I get a little paranoid about it.[/quote]

Don’t worry too much about how the FS and BS looks like. You’ll find that if you’re technique greatly improves, the squat variation slightly alters your position but not the way you execute hip and knee extension. Inconsistent technique across variations of a lift occurs when a person is not able to utilize all possible muscle groups for every single variation. It’s only the distribution in loading of those muscle groups that should change but they should all be used.

Say for example you have 20 potential muscle groups available for performing hip and knee extension. Why would use only 10 for one squat variation and 8 for another? If you learn to use all 20 for any variation, you have the best carryover across all variations (if your goal is maximum strength). The problem is learning to utilize all muscles available.


#13

[quote]lift206 wrote:

Don’t worry too much about how the FS and BS looks like. You’ll find that if you’re technique greatly improves, the squat variation slightly alters your position but not the way you execute hip and knee extension. Inconsistent technique across variations of a lift occurs when a person is not able to utilize all possible muscle groups for every single variation. It’s only the distribution in loading of those muscle groups that should change but they should all be used.

Say for example you have 20 potential muscle groups available for performing hip and knee extension. Why would use only 10 for one squat variation and 8 for another? If you learn to use all 20 for any variation, you have the best carryover across all variations (if your goal is maximum strength). The problem is learning to utilize all muscles available.[/quote]

I hear what you’re saying. Today when I lift, I’m going to keep all of this in mind. I’m sure it’s going to feel A LOT different. Thanks again man for the thorough response. I appreciate it!


#14

[quote]isdatnutty wrote:
I hear what you’re saying. Today when I lift, I’m going to keep all of this in mind. I’m sure it’s going to feel A LOT different. Thanks again man for the thorough response. I appreciate it!
[/quote]

No problem. I hope it makes a difference. Good luck!


#15

So today I did front squats 165-3x5.

I think I’m having the same issues with my FS as I am my BS! What do you guys think? This felt HEAVY for me today.

I know I have APT plus really tight hamstrings/calves. Maybe that’s why my glutes/hips are not firing as well as they should. I can feel pressure in my abs/erectors when I’m bracing. Any tips would be appreciated!


#16

I’m sorry for sounding unkind, but how is “I have a hard time being strong in a certain movement so I’ll practice that movement” hard to understand? It’s not like you have superhuman quad strength and your glutes are weak. You are weak everywhere. Keep doing squats and front squats and push yourself, that will solve your problem. The whole Westside/Russian concept of adding in assistance exercises to bring up lagging is intended for advanced lifters. All you need to do is squat right now.


#17

[quote]isdatnutty wrote:
So today I did front squats 165-3x5.

I think I’m having the same issues with my FS as I am my BS! What do you guys think? This felt HEAVY for me today.

I know I have APT plus really tight hamstrings/calves. Maybe that’s why my glutes/hips are not firing as well as they should. I can feel pressure in my abs/erectors when I’m bracing. Any tips would be appreciated!

https://youtu.be/s5kLOTMXyHU [/quote]
That weight was too heavy for you. Your quads can’t handle it, so you’re leaning forward and coming up on your toes in an effort to get more glute and back into it.

Drop some weight off, stay on your heels, and focus on driving with your quads.


#18

One of the progression models we used was:

5 reps +1kg next session
3 or 4 reps +0.5kg nnext session
Less than 3, reset (alter rep scheme)

You can do a set the way you did it but you stop counting reps (for progression) when you need to pause between reps.

Throwing on a bunch of weight to a set you’re already grinding through, form getting sloppy, is a great way to ensure you’ll hit a recovery walll.


#19

[quote]isdatnutty wrote:
So today I did front squats 165-3x5.

I think I’m having the same issues with my FS as I am my BS! What do you guys think? This felt HEAVY for me today.

I know I have APT plus really tight hamstrings/calves. Maybe that’s why my glutes/hips are not firing as well as they should. I can feel pressure in my abs/erectors when I’m bracing. Any tips would be appreciated!
[/quote]

I still stand by my previous comments. You have to concentrate on tightness in your upper back, mid section and hips. When focusing on tightness, you should feel almost the same level of tightness for a light weight as for a heavy one. Nighthawkz is right that you need to get everything stronger overall. When I said that one of your muscle groups may be stronger than another one, that was only relative and everything still needs to get stronger. Just make it a point to help the weaker muscles catch up by actually using them.

The problem isn’t tightness in other muscles. You just need to practice firing them. If I told you to flex your bicep without moving, you can probably do it because you’re so used to firing that muscle everyday. If I told you to fire the muscles to stabilize your hips, you probably can’t because it’s not yet automatic. It’ll take months and months of practice. IMO it’s better to learn that now instead of years down the road when everything gets stronger but you still haven’t learned to maximize stability which would make it likely that your hips would still shoot back and chest shoot forward with a heavier weight. If you want to get as strong as possible you have to learn to control your own body movement instead of letting the weight dictate how you move. All of this advice doesn’t change WHAT you do, just HOW you do it. Continue on with whatever programming you do and just change the mindset of how you execute the movement. That’s the most important thing to learn for technique. It is going to take time so be patient.


#20

Not sure if it’s been stated, but a few things missing from your squats that are very prevalent in the target form vid you posted:

  1. You’re not balanced in your feet. Keep the weight right in the middle of the foot throughout the lift…none of this rocking up on toes to move it up. Something that could help is actually curling your toes down in your shoes and try to “grip” the floor from start to finish of the set. It’s pretty much impossible to put your weight entirely on your toes if you do that correctly.

  2. You’re not externally rotating your hips. This is the second contributor to what makes your squats look less stable than you’d like. Rewatch those videos and see just how much their hips turn out as they descend. You’re not currently doing that.

I would contend you have tight hips flexors and adductors. Ankle mobility is fine.

You’ll know you’re on the right path when you feel the lift in your hams, quads, and glutes equally.