T Nation

Elevated Heels Squatting


Just a simple question

I can't bodyweight squat without falling over. Yet when I wear weightlifting shoes or have some kind of heel I can

Everyone says its because of bad ankle flexibility, yet when I stretch my ankles, my knees go 4 inches past my toes. Someone want to help me


You stretching out your calves with your legs straight or knees bent?

These might help

also, dunno if you've read this already, but if you haven't it is worth a look.




learn to squat between your legs not on top of them. a likely cause to your squatting problem.


I am stretching my calves with a bent leg.

Thanks for the links. Its just I find it weird. I can bodyweight squat if I make sure to spread my legs wider than shoulder width and turn my feet out. Yet when I have heels, I can do squats with my feet almost together and knees only slightly out.


what kinda squat are you aiming to do?

front squat (as upright a torso as possible sitting your butt down between your legs)
high bar back squat (as above)

low bar back squat (sitting back hard into your glutes and hammies as much as possible with some forward lean in the torso)

the first two styles should be balanced if your hips are above your midfoot and your torso is relatively upright. you basically need to get your knees out the way so you can sit your ass straight down over your ankles. your knees need to come forwards (how much depends on your relative femur length) and out to the sides.

in this style of squat if you have trouble balancing then it is because your hips are back behind your midfoot. you need to work on getting your hips in more by pushing your knees forwards and out.

the heel raise shifts your balance forwards on your feet so that you can remain balanced despite having your hips a bit far back than is optimal.

with the sitting back style of squat - it won't feel balanced until you have some weight on the bar to act as a counterbalance. i find around 1/2 bodyweight starts feeling balanced.

you can hang on with your hip flexors to help balance you even though your ass is back.

basically... we would need to see vids to know what is going on with you. preferably from the side and from the front.



Im gonna post a video soon maybe in the next few weeks as my back is healing up

When I first started I did all squats, but mainly stick with the highbar atg now

Opening my hips has helped as you said, but what does it mean when you say "hang on with your hip flexors"

I remember watching a video i think you posted, it was a chinese guy doing wall squats with his knees and feet together. How would someone be able to train for doing those?


the best training for squats is to squat.

with the guy doing the knees together vertical shins squat...

his shoulders were fairly slumped forwards (shifting his center of gravity forwards). works better for guys who have a slightly higher center of gravity (due to relative upper body mass) rather than women who have a slightly lower center of gravity (due to relative lower body mass).

he also tucked his tail under (the infamous 'butt wink' that you need to avoid in weighted versions of squats).


how to train for it???

i read that one starts out with ones heels supported by a telephone book. then every day one removes a few pages. gradually... over a relatively long period of time... by removing a few pages per day... one can squat with barefoot in this fashion.

things to note:

it is a very cool party trick but it is a different movement from weighted squats (which are probably a priority for you). in particular: that version involves forwards slumping of the shoulders (not good for weighted versions) and also loss of lumbar arch (not good for the lower back under load).

i'd be really interesed to see vids of your squats before making suggestions on how you can improve them.

in particular: side on angle to assess knee travel forwards / lumbar arch / depth / balance on heels / torso angle...
and front on angle to assess stance width and knee travel outwards.

there is only better an stronger from here!!!

ps. don't be afraid to post vids with just the bar. often... things don't get any better with additional weight.

my new motto: (powerlifting low bar squats aside: if you can lift a stick PERFECTLY you can lift anything at all).


the 'hanging on with the hip flexors' idea is weird...

i'm not sure it makes anatomical sense...

i've heard it described as 'imaging yourself in zero gravity'. in other words: instead of just dropping or descending mindlessly into a squat... try and imagine yourself pulling yourself down with your hip flexors. slowly and deliberatly lowering your body with them. while at the same time holding your lumbar arch hard. it is a bit hard to describe... but it is a feeling of kind of sandwiching yourself between two tensions - that created by your holding your lumbar arch hard and that created by your holding tension in your hip flexors hard.

it is hard to describe... but holding your torso upright while holding a lumbar arch... feels (to me anyway) like i need to kind of deliberately pull myself into the hold with my hip flexors. there is a distinct bottom position (can't get lower without losing lumbar arch) and definate feeling of using my hip flexors to hold my torso upright. i think... the tension in the hip flexors can help act as a counter-balance even though your center of gravity might be a bit back of your midfoot... but there are probably limits to this approach - especially when the barbell gets heavier than you.

(i have no understanding of how heel raise helps when the barbell is heavier than the lifter. would love it if someone could make sense of that for me)