T Nation

Deadlift and Squat Form Help - Back/Calf Pain

Hey Everyone,

First time posting here. Just wanted some form advice as USAPL raw nationals is slowly approaching and my body is starting to reject my training.

Some background information:
I lift in the 66kg Teen 3 divison. Best numbers in competition were 402, 226, 501.5. Recently did a mock meet at my gym and hit 445, 245, 535. I recently finished the PH3 program and now I am doing Candito’s 6 week program.

My Problem:
After high volume squats, I will often get bad calf pain on the top and outer sides of my calves. It hurts during the squats and after and seriously limits my ability to squat in the next session. Other then that, everything else seems okay during squats. My next issue is low back pain. I think its from both squatting and deadlifting. It doesn’t happen during the lift, only when I am sitting. It’s not sharp pain and I went to physical therapy for it. They said is was a muscle issue and that smaller muscles in the low back are not keeping up with my lumbar’s and are causing issues. The x-ray looked fine. I was never able to complete my physical therapy due to some other reasons.

Here is my latest training session. I really tried to focus on form by keeping my legs out more on the squat and staying on my mid foot. I normally like to squat very narrow and sometimes I come onto my toes. Today my calves didn’t hurt as I spread my feet apart more. Also tried to reduce any buttwink. Sorry for restricted camera angles.

Squats -
IMG_0394 by ricky merchant, on Flickr

IMG_0395 by ricky merchant, on Flickr

Deadflift - 405 warmup

IMG_0393 by ricky merchant, on Flickr

deadlift - 455x3

IMG_0392 by ricky merchant, on Flickr


I dont have any advice on the calf problems.

The LBP though - I squatted similiar to you a couple of years ago, and experienced LBP. What fixed it for me was to relearn the squat and keeping a more upright position throughout the movement.

You seem to have quite a lot of forward lean during your squat, resulting in a lot of work being put on your lower back, and that tends to place the weight forward on your feet aswell. Perhaps thats how you have been teached to squat… I assume you have some kind of coach, or work out from time to time with higher level powerlifters who are able to spot your technique.

Similarly in your deads, you tend to round your lower back. That works out for some, for others not so much, resulting in pain.

Its difficult to give technique advice online. I would advice you to have your form looked at at some point by someone with expertiseand experience. If thats before or after your meet, is up to you.

Thanks for the advice man,

As far as coaching or other high level lifters, I currently don’t really have anyone to talk with. I just lift in a commercial gym and I have never had a coach. I just tried to self teach via youtube videos. I’ll work on staying more upright though, thanks!

On the first squat vid, I noticed your knees shoot back and your hips shoot up fast relative to your shoulders. Now vids I’ve seen of accomplished and even very technically sound top lifters do this to some degree. It’s just the body finding the right position for the lift. But if you’re experiencing back and calf pain, what you’re doing could be too much. Also, it doesn’t look like your knees are tracking with the outside of your foot. If you weren’t experiencing pain I wouldn’t say anything about your squat, but we all have different tolerances to certain styles of lifting.

What helps me with both issues is to try to lead with the chest and think squeeze the glutes hard and push my upper back up into the bar.

If you’re still having a lot of trouble reducing how much lower back you throw into your squat, you might want to work in front squats for assistance. They’re very unforgiving if you try to shoot your hips on those which can help with form. They also help build the legs and upper back which might be relatively weak.

For knee tracking if you have a mini band put it around your knees on your warm up squats and that will help you ingrain that habit.