T Nation

Form Check - SQ, BP, DL


Hi nation,

I have been doing Starting Strength for 3 months and I finally decided to shoot my working sets (and some warmup in DL). Before SS I did some beginner training with dumbbells, so this is my first true experience with the big 3. I am training alone, so I will be grateful for any comments about my technique.


Wow tons of videos lol.

Ok, in order.

Squat) I just watched the first video. It is hard to tell a lot of things from a very low camera angle, so if you can find one a bit higher in the future that would be especially helpful. You break the hips first: good. You keep the back flat: good. You hit depth as far as I can tell from the camera angle with the plates and rack in the way: great.

Things to think about: 1) you need to stand UP with the weight--you never actually lock any of the reps out at the top! You are even unracking and bringing the bar out and standing there with your hips chambered back instead of upright. This adds to the tension on your back and creates some fatigue, but mostly just really interferes with the necessary glute action that should be trained in a proper squat. Also if you watch the end of the barbell you can see it sinking down and slightly forwards as you come down into the hole. The bar needs to trace a straight path. It does not, and this means either 1) your chest is lowering in the hole 2) your hips are not being pushed back far enough, or 3) your knees aren't pushing out far enough. Or some combination of those.

Bench) Good things: good arch, good set-up and good job keeping your butt on the bench and your feet plastered to the ground. Also good job on a) keeping your forearms vertical with regard to the floor and tucking your elbows on the way down. You also do a good job on keeping your chest up. I personally don't care if the bar path is perfectly straight ala Westside or in a SLIGHT "J" pattern ala a bunch of other strong benchers, so you're ok there. I would personally prefer you not press back all the way over your head--keep it to a slight curve.

Things to work on: The first couple reps are ok but as you go on you get less and less consistent with where you press the bar too--what I mean is how far back towards your head you lock the bar out. Your sides also waver independently of each other: sometimes your left arm is pressing the bar farther back than your right and sometimes they are even. They always need to be even and the bar always needs to be horizontal across your body, not at a slight tilt with one end farther down than the other. See seconds 35-40 on your first bench video. Your arms need to be tighter--your lats AND traps AND hands need to be squeezed harder on both sides throughout the motion to cut down on wiggling of the bar.

Deadlift) Looks ok for the most part, you're always going to have something go wrong on the heavy sets. That being said in your last DL video your hips rise a bit before the rest of you does, so work on that. A little bit of back rounding but that may just be from overall fatigue, which is understandable.


Great work. I'll just add: listen to Aragorn. He knows what he's talking about and gave great feedback.


Thank you so much for such a deep analysis! I will try to find some better spot to shoot the squats. I will also try to stand up more in the squats. I guess it is caused by trying to get the bar as low as possible on the back and giving wrists and elbows too much rest. I also use thumbless grip, so it felt "safer" to be a bit bent.

Great tips for the benchpress. I will try to tighten up more and keep it for the whole set. Problem is i feel like my right arm gets fatigued sooner then my left arm. I might be more tight on the left side, because it looks like my right arm starts to drop lower in the later reps. Or it might be influenced by my scoliosis...


Scoliosis might be a relevant piece of information lol.

Test your sides independently of each other with isolation movements for triceps, shoulders, and even lats. Execution of exercises must be ABSOLUTELY strict. Stricter than the pope. Since we are measuring unilateral strength it does no good to try to cheat even the tiniest bit to get more reps as that defeats the purpose of the test--to see if you are significantly physically stronger on one side or not. Outside of the actual rep execution, it can be a quick and dirty sort of test, just to get an idea. Pick dumbbell skullcrushers, or pushdown with elbows plastered to your side, strict dumbbell shoulder press and/or lean away lateral raises, and machine pullover with one arm. Hell you can even do single arm shrug and hold for time. Rest plenty between sides so you get a good "fresh" reading on your strength levels, and make sure to pick a weight that's doable :).

You could potentially do a one arm dumbbell bench as well, but that requires a lot of core activation too and is probably unfamiliar to you so it wouldn't be all that accurate to test on a new movement you haven't done much.

There's some variability to be expected side to side obviously, but if it's pretty significant you might have an answer.


I'll also note that you should probably do some glute activation work before your squats, or even between each set of squats, so that you can fire the glutes all the way through at the top.