T Nation

Back Squat Sticking Point

I just starting squating a few months ago and seem to have a major sticking point which you can see on my last rep of both my sets.

Should I focus on the sticking point and do some pin work or just keep going and trying to build.

I’m wondering if I should consolidate my gains and make sure everything else is strong before I get into the 300s. My back and glutes are starting to get sore the next day after doing BS.

Thanks.

I’m not sure if you were asking for a full critique of your squat, but if you were there is a lot I could say if you want to know. You have a lot of good points and then there are some areas that you could work on just like the rest of us. However, I’ll just try to answer only the points you brought up.

The sticking point you are experiencing is very normal for the squat. Very few people have a sticking point at the bottom of the squat. If they do it’s because the weight is too heavy. I wouldn’t classify it as a “major sticking point” because you got the bar up and racked it.

The bar slowing down 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up is weakness in the glutes and hips. Try doing posterior chain assistance work to build this. The exercises are numerous such as arched back good mornings, sumo deadlifts, reverse-hyper, glute-ham raise, etc., and it all depends on what you have available there at home. I don’t know what your set up is.

That squat rack looked very shaky. Be careful with that. Do you train alone? Can you get spotters? Do you have a plan for if and when you have to dump the bar? I suggest you get one together because it’s inevitable that there is going to come a time when you will not get all your reps if you are training hard enough.

That squat rack doesn’t appear to be sturdy enough if you had to drop the bar off your back. What kind of plates are those? Are those big bumper plates? It looks like you have over 600lbs. on the bar!

Incorporate assistance work to build up your squat and keep building. Just keep it simple and don’t make it complicated. If you are training for strength then try to add weight as often as you can if you can complete the former reps with good form.

If you want to know more and are interested just ask and I’ll try to help.

In addition to the comments above.

You are not driving your hips under the bar soon enough. When you are coming out of the hole you should be concentrating on arching your back into the bar and at the same time driving your hips under the bar. The quicker you can get your hips under the bar the easier the lift will feel.

Having a strong posterior chain will help with this.

Good luck.

If you have other comments about my technique that would be fine. The rack is from ironmind and should be fine. I have used the powerracks at 280 and they worked fine.

Yes those are bumper plates, it was only 295 that I was pushing up.

Thanks for your thoughts.

I should also mention that I have a GHD so I started doing raises once a week. Should I do them more?

Thanks

[quote]SFC99 wrote:
I should also mention that I have a GHD so I started doing raises once a week. Should I do them more?

Thanks[/quote]

GHD? Did you mean a GHR (glute/ham raise)? If so, you have a great training tool! I would definitely be using that at least twice a week. If you train it heavy just give yourself 72 hours before you “hammer” them again. You could possibly do it sooner since the GHR is not as hard on your central nervous system like good mornings and deadlifts are.

My additional comments would be first to remove whatever that is from around your waist. It doesn’t look like a power belt so I’m not sure how much support your getting from that. You might as well condition the rest of your core and lumbar at the same time while you are doing squats.

You realize that you are doing high-bar Olympic squats, don’t you? The bar is high up on your back. Your knees are drifting forward which is normal for high-bar squats. This set up should have you going down very deep at the bottom and you should be more upright than what you are. You’re only going to parallel. Your second set was even higher. Get the maximum advantage of this squat position by going ATG and getting that rebound out of the hole on the bottom.

Building up the calves helps in this regard as well. You’re raising your butt up too early when you are at the bottom and in turn it’s turning into a part-good morning. Try doing some front squats. This will teach you that upright position all the way through the lift in addition to building your quads.

You are doing a great job of keeping your head up, back arched, tight hand position, grinding out the reps and apparently staying focused.

I’m not sure what your goals are. If you are concerned with increasing your squat poundages in regards to powerlifting then I recommend a different bar set up and technique. Both the power and Olympic style have their advantages.

Keep up the good work and good luck with your lifting goals.

I would like to get to 2xbodyweight but have an intermediate goal of 300 which I’m almost at.

I do front squats and deadlifts on wednesdays and back squats Mondays and Fridays.

It’s interesting that you commented on my back position because Mark Rippetoe told me that I was too vertical and needed to go to more of a position how you suggested. The bar is sitting on top of my scapulas which is also what Rippetoe recommends but where you do usually place the bar?

Thanks for your comments…

You do back squats twice a week, front squats and deadlifts once a week. That may be much if you are an intermediate lifter, but I don’t know what your volume/intensity is and how long you have been lifting.

As for me, I place the bar lower which is more powerlifting style than Olympic style. The knees don’t go past the shins on the downward movement and stay that way even when I’m bottomed out. That’s where it ends for me on the powerlifting style because I squat narrow stance and go deep.

The current trend is to go very wide thus using mostly posterior chain in moving the weight rather than putting a lot of emphasis on the quads. The quads are such a large muscle group and I can’t see why lifters wouldn’t want to get the most they could out of that muscle group in addition to the posterior chain. I’ve worked up to 470x5 for sets without a belt using this combo of methods and I have never gotten red-lighted at any meet for my squats so I know it works.

Just find what works for you and what you like. It all depends on what your goals are. I’ve tried to go to an exclusively Olympic, high-bar style and haven’t been able to do it. I’ve been squatting this other way for years and my mind goes on automatic when I go in the squat rack. Fix your problems early and get in your groove and it will be in engrained in your mind.

In the past, there have been many greats who have set world records using the narrow stance. You still see it in some powerlifting federations such as the USAPL and the AAU. “Banana split” squats are the rave now. Those that use it have great difficulty reaching depth in those federations that require a squat that must go below parallel. I’ve seen it over and over in meets.

There are many different “roads” you can travel when it comes to squatting technique. However, there are some areas in correction and weaknesses that are the same no matter what style you like and that is what I wanted to point out to you before you get stuck in a pattern and have to start all over again to learn it right. This has happened to me many times and every other lifter that has been in the game for a while.

We never stop learning. In the end, me watching a YouTube clip isn’t really going to do the same justice in lifting critique as actually seeing you squat live. I recommend you find some experienced lifters from both sides of the aisle and have them look at your squatting if it’s a major concern to you.

I hope I’ve been helpful and not confusing. Happy training!

So would my stance be considered wide or narrow? My heels are about shoulder-width apart, maybe slightly wider. It does feel easier when I go a bit wider than that.

I had a grade 1 strain on my hamstring and got healed up enough to start doing weighted squats again the middle of December. So it has been about 3 months of lifting since then. Before the injury I had lifted a few times but mostly built my strength from bodyweight exercises.

I use to be a top amateur road cyclist so I have some natural leg and hip strength but never really lifted and my riding stopped about 10 years ago.

So with all that said, I guess I am an intermediate lifter based on the numbers but basically I have just been doing linear training by adding 10 pounds to my lift every time.

[quote]SFC99 wrote:
So would my stance be considered wide or narrow? My heels are about shoulder-width apart, maybe slightly wider. It does feel easier when I go a bit wider than that.

So with all that said, I guess I am an intermediate lifter based on the numbers but basically I have just been doing linear training by adding 10 pounds to my lift every time.

[/quote]

You have a narrow stance even though you may think it’s wide. Linear training may work for you right now since you are an intermediate, but eventually you will stall out. You won’t be able to keep adding 10 pounds to the bar week after week and you will get frustrated. There are a lot of good programs and schools of thought by various authors that contribute to this website. Expect to change things up soon.

Well thanks for your help and thoughts!

IMO the bar is WAY too high up on your neck. No wonder your back hurts and your hips are coming up too quickly. Open up your stance a little at a time, and keep your toes slightly pointed out.
Just before you duck under the bar, “set” the back by squeezing your scapulae together and slightly downward. Position the bar much lower on your traps. Imagine a line drawn across your back parallel to the floor at the level of the lower edge of your posterior delts.
Lastly, don’t buy into the BS that low bar placement and wide stance builds a huge ass either! Good luck

Louie Simmons suggests doing box squats with the box height at your sticking point. (Paragraph 7).

www.deepsquatter.com/strength/archives/ls9.htm

Also see Thibaudeau’s latest article. He suggests isometric holds at the sticking point.

It looks like you are more concerned with how much you can lift, versus how well you can move decent poundages up and down. I thought you were lowering your body too quickly, thats why I said that. I would say that, if you are going for max lifts, heavy singles, then youre fine, but if you`re trying to bodybuild, then keep your stance to no wider than shoulder width, and focus on slowing down,when you are squatting, and then you can explode the weight as you come up.Peace

Some things I would recommend or noticed.

  1. Wider Stance - This is more Louis Simmons talking here.

  2. Your belt - Is that a velcro deal?
    If it is shit can that bad boy and get an Inzer lever belt.

  3. You’ve got a lot of movement in your setup. You put on some serious weight and you ain’t gonna do that. Do some walkouts and learn to get into position immediately. Saves energy and like I said you ain’t gonna be able to do that shimmy with more weight.

  4. Big Chest! One of the things I notice is without a big chest about where your sticking is where you lose all leg drive and it becomes an all back movement. Your leaning forward. That is from experience and personal observation very recently.

  5. Work some Box Squats, Pause Squats, Stiff Legged Deads, or pin squats.

That’s my sticking point on heavy lifts too.

Some things I would recommend or noticed.

  1. Wider Stance - This is more Louis Simmons talking here.

  2. Your belt - Is that a velcro deal?
    If it is shit can that bad boy and get an Inzer lever belt.

  3. You’ve got a lot of movement in your setup. You put on some serious weight and you ain’t gonna do that. Do some walkouts and learn to get into position immediately. Saves energy and like I said you ain’t gonna be able to do that shimmy with more weight.

  4. Big Chest! One of the things I notice is without a big chest about where your sticking is where you lose all leg drive and it becomes an all back movement. Your leaning forward. That is from experience and personal observation very recently.

  5. Work some Box Squats, Pause Squats, Stiff Legged Deads, or pin squats.

That’s my sticking point on heavy lifts too.

Building up the calves helps in this regard as well. You’re raising your butt up too early when you are at the bottom and in turn it’s turning into a part-good morning. Try doing some front squats. This will teach you that upright position all the way through the lift in addition to building your quads.

You are doing a great job of keeping your head up, back arched, tight hand position, grinding out the reps and apparently staying focused.

Raw Power,

Don’t take this wrong, but I’m just trying to discuss here.

What do calves have to do with anything with the squat. I ask because I have naturally great calves. Only body part that is that way. So I don’t really work em much and have never read anything with this pertaining to squat. Again dude, just a question.

Also, The first part to move out of the bottom position should be his butt. (At least thats what I’ve read.) Please elaborate.

I disagree with his back arch. I thought he tended to be kind of sunk in and needed a bigger chest.

I’m not trying to be shitty here, just trying to keep learning myself, so please take it that way.

Peace.

[quote]btm62 wrote:

Raw Power,

Don’t take this wrong, but I’m just trying to discuss here.

What do calves have to do with anything with the squat. I ask because I have naturally great calves. Only body part that is that way. So I don’t really work em much and have never read anything with this pertaining to squat. Again dude, just a question.

Also, The first part to move out of the bottom position should be his butt. (At least thats what I’ve read.) Please elaborate.

I disagree with his back arch. I thought he tended to be kind of sunk in and needed a bigger chest.

I’m not trying to be shitty here, just trying to keep learning myself, so please take it that way.

Peace.

[/quote]

I wasn’t trying to encourage this lifter to build calves to give him a bigger squat. As you noted, the calves aren’t a major player in this. The reason I encouraged him to build his calves up was to give him added rebound on the bottom. If you bring together big hams and big calves it’s a great combination. This lifter was not going down all the way and sinking it the way he should be by doing high-bar squats.

It was kind of hard to tell what kind of muscular development this lifter had because in the video he was wearing baggy sweats. This also explains the issue of the chest development you mentioned. The video was hard to tell since it was from only one angle. It’s hard to make out some of these particulars with just a short video clip that is unspecific in some regards. I could only comment on what I saw and what he told me.

I gather that you are a fan of Louie Simmons training ideas. I am not and I have my reasons. Louie likes to make the squat a strictly posterior chain lift without the added benefit of the quads and to me that is ridiculous. Therefore, he preaches on going wider out in the stance and making it more glute activated. I squat narrow stance and I still feel it in my glutes and everywhere else for that matter. The quads are such a large muscle group. I just can’t leave them out of the picture.

If his butt is coming up and that bar is not going up at the same time then there is a problem. It’s the same thing with the deadlift. If your butt is coming up and that bar is not moving up at the same time then it turns into a stiff-legged deadlift. This lifter appeared to have some apprehensions on going ATG. That is why I encouraged him to remove his velcro belt, lower the bar on his back, sit back and down and get that stretch reflex out of the bottom when his hams come into contact with his calves.

Like you, I’m all for more learning and it never stops. I’m no expert by any means. I just wanted to share with this lifter some ideas and techniques that have helped me in big squats for competitive powerlifting if in fact that was the goal of the lifter who posted the video.