T Nation

Form Checks (Novice in Process)


I am now a week in as a T Nationer. I post my workouts in "training logs" and joined the women's forum and everyone is very nice. Have not gotten much feedback about my lifts though. Would like to elicit helpful critique for my deadlift and squat. Thanks much!

(154x7 squats,~85%)

(203x5 double overhand grip which is much more than I have ever done like this and why I lost the bar early :/)


Hey Great lifts,

You really don't need to change anything, it all depends on what you're going for.

What you're doing well on the squat is hitting good depth on nearly all of them, you keep a flat low back and neutral spine very well.

a critique is to decide if you're squeezing your shoulder bladers together, or driving your elbows up underneath you. The elbows underneath you thiing is really more of a feeling to keep the chest up as opposed to actually moving your arms. i noticed you did it when you seemed to get on your toes.

For someone with your body type, ie long legs and short torso, front squats are going to be extremely beneficial, especially as you're posterior chain dominant and bringing up your quads is going to really increase the squat as well as keep you upright as you won't shift back to take advantage of the glutes.

Another thing is either getting weightlifting shoes, or putting plates under your heels. This will really help you get your quads into the lift, which means higher numbers, and increasing your deadlift off the floor.

I'd like to see you squat more like this:

As far as your dead lift, it looks pretty good. All you really need to do is learn to break the bar off the floor as opposed to ripping it off the floor. This really comes down to setting your torso, and locking it in, finding the right angle where the bar is under your scapula, it's always a bit further over the bar than you think. once you find that angle, then lock in there, drive hard with the legs until you lock the knee, and then pull back after that. It's the most optimal way to pull as it propels the bar past the regular sticking point of the knees, and sets you up for an easy lockout.

This is a really good example of what I mean:

either way, you're doing awesome and i hope this helps



Your form is excellent. It's just about getting stronger and faster lifts (congrats this is the plight of every lifter).

Good job


Thanks so much, this does help! I like experimenting with my squat and will be slowly trying to learn use my quads more since I may have been overusing them a tad bit earlier on. My squats were way smoother and faster when I allowed my quads to do much of the work, but for the life of me, I could never grind it out through my sticking points and I think my knees got grumpy. Also, your observations are helpful because in my last two training blocks, I have widened my stance quite a bit and have been practicing using my hamstrings and glutes more on the squat because I feel like they don't do anything and hence, I have pretty noticeable imbalances between the muscles in the front of my legs versus the back. It makes me happy that you noticed I might be benefited from now integrating more quads. Oh powerlifting, it seems just when I think I get the recipe down, I may need a pinch of this or a dash of that. As for the deadlift, I agree. I rarely find that perfect angle where I don't jerk a little bit (especially with heavier weight) and it frustrates me to no end. For a while, when I was dabbling with weights, I learned some very bad habits and I am still unlearning them, I also freak out sometimes for no good reason that the bar may just not leave the ground, so I panic and just try to rip it off the ground. Again, thanks! Will let you know how the titration goes. PS - The 2nd video is not uploading.


Thanks for the challenge and support! Faster freaks me out :slight_smile:


this one is off blocks, but does a good job of showing what i mean about snapping the knees before you pull back.

watch close and you'll see he locks his legs before he pushes his hips through then pulls back.

An exercise that really helps build the start position that you've had some problems with is deadlifting to the knees. 5 sets of 3 with 80% is a great workout and really teaches you to use your legs to drive off the floor. Sheiko deadliest programs in general really build a deadlift I find in terms of form.

How were you over using your quads before?

what are you doing for your glutes? when you described being fast with no grinding ability that was me last year before i went on a glute mission, now i'm building my squat back up and I feel like I can grind much easier. That might be something to think of, i would keep squatting with your quads, if you knee is ok, but hammer your glutes with split squats, hip thrusts, lunges, step ups and all hip thrust variations and that should really help build your squat.


Deadlifting to the knees intrigues me and I will talk to my "trainer" about it (trainer as in my awesome significant other who puts up with my nonsense at the gym and helps to rehab my form). And, it sounds like this accessory work could help with cleaning up the early part of my pull/set-up. On a related note, I have been sitting down on a box in sumo position, and slowly pulling a kettlebell up to my knees, pausing, and then locking with my glutes and hips as a stretching/warm up type of exercise before I deadlift and I think it helps a little. It is sort of like a deadlift to knees motion. I will see if it continues to be helpful, I only tried this for one session so far :slightly_smiling: I found it on Youtube in my search for potentially helpful things...

As for the too much quads, I will try to find a video -- but I think the issue was that I ONLY used my quads and minimally activated any other muscle groups and because I had a narrow stance, I think it placed a lot of pressure on my knees. It did not hurt exactly, and it looked okay, but I think I started developing quad tendon issues a little (funky pulling sensation) when I would open up for the squat; I would also go much deeper and get stuck more often. Lastly, when I was depending on my quads, I also used "bounce" quite a bit -- which I think I was getting from my quads (this sounds odd I know or maybe it isn�¢??t that odd).

And yes, totes on the glute activation. Funny but appropriate that that you were able to link my difficulties grinding it out to that type of weakness (the glute kind). I have recently added glute bridges to my routine and I think this is helping already. I have also been practicing traditional deadlifts with a strong focus on the hip hinge which also helps me activate my lazy glutes and hamstrings.

The videos were helpful. Thank you again. This is great!! It is like a "Dear Abby" for strength training.


i'm glad you got something positive out of it!


Focused on quads a bit more and had a really great leg day!! In May, I struggled to squat more than 3 reps at 115 because squats felt so off. Excited to feel momentum again!


Great set of squats, but watch as your butt still shoots back making your shins almost vertical. The thing is your glutes could have gone all day long, they're way stronger than your squat, still quad strength holding you back.

But still, great set of squats.


Wore my pink tennies and my hips were less "shooty." Did 6 reps of 162 which is 18 less than my 1 rep max. Yay quads.


Atta girl, keep updating, looking forward to hearing more about your progress!


What's wrong with that? That is how most competitive PLers squat.

I think your form looks pretty good. Although some of your reps would be called high in some federations.


Hello!! Yes, I agree about the depth. This week I think my depth was pretty consistently "green light" good but I definitely notice that sometimes I get less conscientious about depth. Keep me accountable!

Soooo...I'm a little bit of a mess about my squat, I want it to be perfect form wise, speedy, and I want to get stronger. I swear, just when I think I get one of those things down, something else rears its ugly head. I was just saying, in the PW forum, I love squats but they terrify me. I am glad you posted, I noted some good feedback you provided to other TNationers.


The problem with that is she has lets say 300 pound glutes, and 200 pound quads. Lets say she's trying for a max, if she tries 210 she'll fail in the hole, as the quads are the primary movers below parallel. now if the quads are strong, the knees will stay forward, keep a nice uprght posture, and then the glutes will kick in to finish the lift.

When the quads are weak, immediately upon getting out of the hole, the butt will shoot back as the quads aren't strong enough, so the butt attempts to take over as the primary mover, form collapses, the lifter bends forward, as the bar needs to stay in line with the centre of the foot, and you good morning the weight up.

I would not say that's the way most competitive powerlifters squat, what do you think?


I think PLers tend to use one of two styles: A) a narrow-stance Oly style where the lifter sits down and the knees travel forward or B) a wide-stance sit back style where the shins stay mostly perpendicular to the floor. They're both valid and can be experimented with to find which allows a lifter to squat the most weight.

I did think you were referring to the butt push-back when rfstef2 was initiating the squat rather than coming outta the hole. There's a slight lift coming outta the hole, but I think she does a good job of keeping her chest up for the most part. It's typical to have some form breakdown when getting tired or nearing max.

That's what keeps me eternally interested in the sport:)

Edited because I took geometry so many years ago.


I think she has a very solid looking squat but could sink it a couple of inches deeper. I don't see any evidence of a good morning out of the hole.

There is a tendency to focus on minutiae where it isn't necessary in order to appear knowledgeable. Most fine tuning of technique comes from personal time under the bar. It's tempting to believe that an anonymous individual on the internet has one-size answers that will fix our technique and suddenly make us better and stronger. I wouldn't discount all advice but take it with a grain of salt, try it and see if it works for you. Most of us still haven't nailed down perfection. It's a work in progress.

As for how competitive powerlifters squat, one only has to watch a meet to see everything from 'Kupperstein' wide to Olympic narrow. The slog is the time under the bar to find out which works best for each individual.


This is so true. I used to be a form snob. But I've backed way off because time has shown me that there are examples of lifters who are successful with such a wide variety of lifting styles, even some that totally "break the rules" while being highly successful. From what I've seen of your vids, rfstef2, your form looks pretty damn good. No need to obsess about it.


No kidding. I've seen so many lifts by elite lifters that seem unpossible and break all the rules of 'perfect form'.

rfstef2, like Ksnap, I think your form looks solid. Fine tuning will come with time under the bar. There are no egregious issues. Sometimes you can hear conflicting advice that will make you second guess yourself and try to fix something that isn't broken. I'd hate to see you lose confidence in your lifts.


Imho, this is the "perfect" squat form. As far as depth, note that this gentleman got a red light (with two whites) for depth on his 3rd squat, although the fed he is squatting in is notorious for being very demanding when it comes to squat depth. (Note that he is wearing Olympic weightlifting shoes, someone else more knowledgeable can explain how that affects things if they want to.)