Can't Squat Two Legged!

Hi, I’m looking for some squatting advice please.

Basically, my girlfriend has just started learning to squat, and so far, she’s doing pretty good - getting to depth, keeping everything nice and tight etc., but there is one problem. When she gets to the right depth, as she’s pushing out of the hole, all her weight goes onto her right leg. She cannot get it to balance between both, and some times her left leg even comes up slightly. At the moment, we’re just using the bar, so small chance of injury. What can she do to get the weight even? She has one leg, her right which takes all the weight, longer than the other.

Any suggestions? Cheers!

Has she done sports which emphasise one side of the body? Cyclists will sometimes develop much bigger leg-muscles on the chain-side of the bike, due to the extra work done with that leg.

However the balance/muscle-coordination is a difficult part of squatting. I have found that simply squatting fixes this. Maybe just bodyweight squatting would be a good start, focusing on a strong even push with both legs.

[quote]yarni wrote:
Has she done sports which emphasise one side of the body? Cyclists will sometimes develop much bigger leg-muscles on the chain-side of the bike, due to the extra work done with that leg.


Here’s an outside-the-box-idea: if you have her squat in a smith machine she won’t be able to move sideways and place all the load over one leg. When she’s gained some muscle and strength from this and both legs are pretty evenly strong, go back to regular squatting.

Lots of people start out in the smith then start squatting free. It will feel weird at first, but she’ll learn then, hopefully with two equally strong legs.

Just throwing this out here. Look at her right leg abductor strength. Have her work on those perhaps to push her toward center. Maybe look at her left leg adductor strength. Work on it to pull her towards the center.

In terms of her “left leg coming up”, can you be more specific?

I had a feeling one of the answers may have just been “squat!” Ha-ha. I don’t know if I like the idea of using the smith machine, just coz it’s taken us a while to get the movement pattern right, and using it may just undermine everything. Just spent weeks trying to convince her machines are terrible!

Which adductor would be the weaker one if she keeps leaning to the right? When shes coming out of the hole, all her upwards drive comes from her right leg. This then causes her left foot to lose the weight. It goes from being central to her left heel, sometimes her entire foot, coming off the ground, so she is either on her right foot only, or right foot and left toes.

If she is leaning to the right it is a possible weak LEFT adductor and weak RIGHT ABductor.

I’m not saying it is going to be this simple although that would be nice for you. Anything is be possible though.

If her quad is that weak that it can’t even push at all onto the floor I am not sure centering will help that much unless it’s a really whacked out squat pattern. Is she getting any other sensations or feelings coming out of the hole (i.e pain, restriction) that maybe she’s avoiding?

throw a heel lift in the shoe of her shorter leg. Something like this

put it under the shoe liner in her shoe. If you want to do it right, measure from her ASIS to her medial malleolus. Make sure she is laying flat on her back, with her hips straight. Take multiple measurements of each side and average them. Then make the heel lift half the difference between the 2 measurements.

Load is too light. Add more weight to the bar until she can push out of the hole equally with both legs.

People who have a true limb length discrepancy have an anterior tilt to the pelvis on the side that is shorter. If her hips are causing the problems by how they compensate then adding more weight will likely make the problem worse. Try to heel lift

A few good suggestions here. look at abductor/adductor strength. Also look at glute med strength on the weak side.

If–and I highly doubt everything will be about even–but IF everything is about evenly matched, have her do single leg squats for the weak leg (bulgarian split squat). Actually, you should probably have her do that anyway, and only for the weak leg.

Another teaching tool would be to use the upright of the squat cage to hang onto (with no bar at all, just bodyweight), and have her lower into a full squat position using the upright to balance her and keep her from falling back. Then have her focus very hard on using her weak leg while she can balance herself with the upright.

goblet squats could also help, perhaps. But look at the other things first. I also second looking at a hip misalignment, although that will probably need to be done by a professional/chiro. If it is obvious enough for you to see, it might be a huge problem :).

EDIT: also forgot, check into her glute/ham strength when you are doing the bodyweight squat assessment…perhaps the problem is not the quad but the fact that one glute/ham can take more weight than the other (using it to support the stretch reflex). If she is sitting back, that could be a problem unless the squat depth is high.

Edit: never mind.

oh T-Nation, you never fail me!

We live in the UK, so she’s got herself a nice, NHS funded heel lift, which she has been wearing. When we added more weight, she wasn’t going down as far, maybe partly due to it being too heavy, but also partly as she didn’t feel safe pushing with just the one leg. We shall look at ad/abductor strength, and throw in a few glute/ham raises too.

What are some good exercises for the ab/aductors? apart from the machine things, or are they ok to use? Will also throw in some BSS’s. I think I read in an article that because front squats make you balance the weight differently, they could be good for her to?

Already have a heel lift… My services are no longer needed. Good luck

Definitely. Even elite strength coaches will let their athletes do bodybuilding style lifting (temporarily) if the lifter needs more muscle-mass, or to be bigger for his/her weight class.

Standing cable hip adduction and abduction could be useful. They definitely target some hard to activate muscles.

been to the gym today, and you were right about the ab/adductors! They were seriously weaker, so we’re gonna do some work on them. One legged squats were awesome too. One quick question - how do we know when to stop? Just give it a few weeks and then try proper squats again?