T Nation

Can't Squat Past Parallel

I’ve started squatting a few months ago for strength in my legs and to increase explosiveness in other sports. I started going ass to grass but people pointed out that once i went past parallel my back arched over tremendously.

At first I thought it was a strength or flexibility issue but now I know that it’s a balance issue because I have a very long femur so by the time I get to parallel my center of gravity is literally 3-4 inches behind my heels if I keep my back straight (I also am putting my knees a couple inches in front of my toes) so my ? is what should i do to go past parallel with good form or should i just stick to going parallel?

Most of the writers on here advocate a squat depth where the spine is neutral the entire time and once their is a slight round in the back then you have gone to far. I know that hip flexibility and ankle flexibility have a large impact on squat depth. I go atg but that is pretty much how i have squatted my whole life.

thanks, i have done some more research and it seems like me and arnold have the same problem. he said his squat was also kind of like a good morning because he had to have his torso so far forward so he wouldn’t fall backwards. 1 thing he did was put weights under his heels. Is there any comments about that or should i just go to parallel so i don’t injure my back from it rounding?

You definetely might want to spend some time developing mobility in your ankles and hips. I know I had been squating with terrible form until I took some time to work on my hip mobility and now I can go atg where before going to parallel was hard

Thanks a lot but that brings up 2 ?'s for u…

  1. How tall r u?
  2. What are some things u did for hip mobility?

Get a competent coach. This sort of thing is easily fixable.

I had this problem over the summer from squatting off a high box for so long… it is most likely related to your hip flexibility. What I did was get a softball and foam roller and pretty much everyday just started rolling all around my hips, sides and front of legs, calves, anywhere that was tender. Start slow and if a spot is really painful dont roll on it, just put pressure on the area for 20-30 seconds and move onto the next area.

Eventually as your soft tissue quality gets better you can get more agressive. Also check out Joe Defrancos agile 8 and 6 on his site defrancostraining.com as this also helped me a great deal. Work hard at this and within a month or two you will have no problems with this.

I want to see a video of him squatting rather than saying “it’s this or that”.
If he’s squatting with his knees out in front instead of sitting between his legs then it shouldn’t surprise anyone that his back ends up rounding when he tries to go deep.

Try this:
Sit up from your chair, and raise your arms in front of you until they are parallel to the ground. Stand with your feet apart as wide as your hands are apart. Now Squat down and see how far down you can get without your low-back rounding or knees travelling very far forward and the whole thing feeling rather unstable.

Now stand back up, imagine that there’s one of those damn bosu balls on the ground in front of you, almost between your feet and you want to pick it up. How do you do that? You take a wider stance and sort of sit between your legs, right? You try to get over the ball’s center of mass or whatever you call that. You lean forward some. Bit like a sumo Pull. Easier to keep your arch here?

Hard to really describe this, but I think you get the idea.

I’d really check basic squatting technique before looking into all sorts of specialized stuff. That won’t help if all that’s wrong is that you don’t know how to squat properly.

Watch some videos of Wade Hooper and Ed Coan. You can see in their squats that there is a great deal of pivot at the hips, but no rounding of the back.
You just need to figure out your own leverage angles and what your weak spots are.

If your stance is kind of narrow, taking it out a bit. When I squat narrow (shoulder width or a little wider), and decend naturally (i.e. where I am strong and stable)my hips generally stop right above parallel. But if I take my stance out 2 or 3 inches on each side, I slip right in. Also- push your knees out on the way down.

Thanks for all the help you guys I really appreciate it. After reading what you guys said I found out that I definitely have 2 problems which are hip flexibility and my stance being too narrow. After just a few min. of stretching my hip flexors and doing some hip mobility exercises I noticed a difference and once I widened out my stance I noticed an even bigger difference so now instead of my back rounding once I hit parallel I can do atg (with a slightly wider stance than I would like but it still gets the job done) without it rounding. I’ll keep doing some more hip mobility exercises and take some time each day to practice squat technique. Thanks again!

point your toes out, i tried an experiment when my toes are straight forward i knees go out instead of me sitting down between my legs, but with the toes out i fall down perfectly

definitely practice your squat techinique, and i advise doing so without a load…
in particular, i advise working toes and nose against a wall… it is harder than you think, and i find that it really translates into a good and strong squat once you learn to do it like htat!

Foreva44 - I’ve been reading “Starting Strength” by Rippetoe, and in the chapter on squatting he talks about the hamstrings dominating pelvis position at the bottom of the squat causing rounding of the lumbar region.

He basically says to make sure your hamstrings are warmed-up well to increase flexibility allowing your lower back muscles to maintain pelvis position. You might want to add that to your pre-lift routine.

Some people are just not built to squat below parallel with a straight back, I am like that and I know a few others, just because you round your back at the bottom of squat it doesnot mean you will get injured keep it flat by all means but dont panic if you don’t. I squat 250kg at 90k with that style my training partner does 325kg at 52 years of age.

Honestly, I think this is not an uncommon problem. I fixed my own by doing FRONT SQUATS for a while. They make it basically impossible to bend forward, lest the weight fall off.

Not squatting to grass with fronts is inexcusable, IMO

i had this exact problem for a long time. It’s entirely flexibility. You should to this: take a barbell and do an overhead squat. Now, you are probably not going to be able to go very deep at first without falling over. But thats ok. Keep the lowest position you can with good form for a while. Then next time, try and go a little lower while keeping your back arched without falling over. Do this 3 times a week. DO 3 sets of this. After a few weeks, you should be a lot more flexible and able to go deeper on normal back squats.

Also, load the barbell with a light weight, and go into the deepest back squat you can while keeping your back arched. Just stay there for 30 seconds or so trying to get comfortable with the depth. Do the same method as with the front squats.

The one thing I’ve done which has helped with going below parallel is to squat barefoot. Give that a try and see if it helps.