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Hamstrings and Glutes in Squatting

Does anyone know how to use the glutes and hamstrings more in squats. i’ve read articles by dave tate but can’t get a proper understanding of them. all i know is i have to use a very wide stance, stick butt out first, have a tight upper back.

i don’t box squat since since my gym doesn’t have any boxs yet. also if i do box squats do i only do them on dynamic days and not on max effort days?

Thanks for the help

I noticed with my stronger hams and glutes, that I am more controlled upon descent. This leads me to feeling that I bleed out less power on the way down, and alot more confidence with the same weight. If you don’t have good hamstrength and glutes strength, get it.

This is the reason. ITs the same reason for strong lats and bi’s on heavy bench. Stability leads to less bleed down on power.

I’m sure a 500+ bencher will step in and add his 2 cents, thru the experience.

I’m adding my experience on formerly being able to do 495 for reps in my mid 20’s.

Taking some time out, coming back many years later afer having strengthened up my abs/lowback/hams/glutes much more than they were before.

Getting under the weight and feeling stronger than I did when I was doing it.

The difference was I was much more secure, and stable on the way down with the bar. I could more easily transfer power and get back up.

I don’t like box squats, because setting on the box will lead to some spine shift. HOwever if the box is just used to touch your glutes and drive back up, thats fine.

“all i know is i have to use a very wide stance, stick butt out first, have a tight upper back.”

That’s actually a good start. In short, that IS how you use the glutes and hammies more

If your gym gets boxes you can do them on max effort days, or any of the ton of other westside max effort variations

[quote]mr strength wrote:
all i know is i have to use a very wide stance, stick butt out first, have a tight upper back.[/quote]

The only thing I would add is to keep your knees pushed out hard.

use a low bar position, and look downwards with hip drive, you won’t have any choice but to use your glutes and hammies

[quote]CoolColJ wrote:
and look downwards with hip drive,[/quote]

Could you clarify this?

[quote]djrobins wrote:

This is the reason. ITs the same reason for strong lats and bi’s on heavy bench. Stability leads to less bleed down on power.
[/quote]

While the hamstrings are certainly important for knee stability, the hip extensors (glutes and hams) are actually the prime movers in the wide low-bar squat.

[quote]djrobins wrote:
I noticed with my stronger hams and glutes, that I am more controlled upon descent. This leads me to feeling that I bleed out less power on the way down, and alot more confidence with the same weight. If you don’t have good hamstrength and glutes strength, get it.

This is the reason. ITs the same reason for strong lats and bi’s on heavy bench. Stability leads to less bleed down on power.

I’m sure a 500+ bencher will step in and add his 2 cents, thru the experience.

I’m adding my experience on formerly being able to do 495 for reps in my mid 20’s.

Taking some time out, coming back many years later afer having strengthened up my abs/lowback/hams/glutes much more than they were before.

Getting under the weight and feeling stronger than I did when I was doing it.

The difference was I was much more secure, and stable on the way down with the bar. I could more easily transfer power and get back up.

I don’t like box squats, because setting on the box will lead to some spine shift. HOwever if the box is just used to touch your glutes and drive back up, thats fine.[/quote]

The OP was asking HOW to get more hamstring and glute activation in his squat not WHY he should. Your post offered no advice except now we know that you squatted 495 for reps in your mid 20’s. Thanks.

On topic…

Try doing glute bridges in your warm up, and light SLDL to wake up your glutes and hamstrings, getting the nervous system primed for activity. Training your glutes and hammies with other exercises that involve them more like the deadlift or glute ham raise will make them stronger.

The stronger they are, the more they’ll activate during your squat and will be less likely to shut down and let your quad take over.

Push your knees out and spread the floor, push your hips through at the top.

To start the movement push your hips back, like you are doing a good morning. On the way down try to keep your lower leg as perpendicular to the ground as possible and push your knees out. When you start coming up do not let your knees come forward or in, push your hips up. Imagine the weight strapped do the top of your ass and that you are pushing it up with your butt.

Practice at home with no weight. Face a wall with your feet about 1-2 inches from wall. Try to squat deep without your knees or chest hitting the wall.

[quote]mr strength wrote:
Does anyone know how to use the glutes and hamstrings more in squats. i’ve read articles by dave tate but can’t get a proper understanding of them. all i know is i have to use a very wide stance, stick butt out first, have a tight upper back.

i don’t box squat since since my gym doesn’t have any boxs yet. also if i do box squats do i only do them on dynamic days and not on max effort days?

Thanks for the help[/quote]

Well that’s a good start. Actually for boxes you can stack plates up, or especially those rubber coated tires if you have them. But you don’t need to use boxes, you can free squat this way too. If you can stack plates or if the gym gets boxes, start using this for DE work just to get used to the form. The heavier the weight gets, the harder it is to keep the form, ESPECIALLY if you’re just first learning the technique and trying to get it down.

When you get underneath the bar, before you unrack it, squeeze your back together and make sure its tight. Put the bar at the cradle between your traps and shoulders (low bar position). Pull down on the bar with your lats, and pull your elbows forward (so they’re pointing down-ish instead of back).

Grab a big breath of air, and make sure it’s into your belly, not your upper chest. Squeeze your abs, then look upwards and out. Doesn’t need to be straight up, but your chin should be up. Your body follows your chin, if your chin dips it won’t matter if your eyes look up, your chest will stay down instead of up. and unrack the weight by ARCHING your back hard and squeezing your glutes/hips.

Walk the bar out. Your feet should be wide and your toes should be pointed somewhat out. Not sideways, not severely, but comfortably outwards.

Your chin should still be up and your back arched hard. Eyes up too. Break the hips, and sit back with the knees still unflexed. This will feel like the start of a good morning or similar. But don’t bend over!! Just get that stretch. Your chest/chin should still be up, if it’s down you’re bending over like a good morning.

There will come a point where its hard to sit back any more, since your hips are now pushed back and your back is still arching hard. When you reach this point, begin pushing out on the knees very hard–like you’re using one of those stupid outer thigh machines the cardio bunnies are fond off. Spread the floor in other words.

Pushing out on the knees will let you drop farther with your hips, but DON’T just start going straight down at this point. Aim to sit farther back as your knees push out more and more. When this happens you should feel strain on your hammies.

If you have a box what you’re trying to do is sit the HAMSTRINGS on the box, NOT the glutes or tailbone. This requires a hard arch of the back all the way down and you to push back as you open up your knees.

DO NOT DROP ONTO THE BOX. You squat the weight down, you control it, it doesn’t control you.

When coming back up, slam your traps BACKWARDS into the bar, and the chin up, elbows down. Slam your knees out hard and push your hips forward THROUGH YOUR HEELS with your hamstrings and glutes. If your chest/chin comes down or you lose your arch, the squat will turn into a good morning.

Focus on doing romanian deadlifts and low bar squats if your trying to recruit more glutes and hamstrings. Another effective exercise is squats from pins instead of the box. Less likely to relax from the pins than a box squat.

There’s no need to use a wide stance. I did Olympic squats yesterday and my PC is killing me today.

So go wide if it suits you, but if you like a narrower stance, you can go deeper and get, in my opinion, a greater effect.

Nice description, Aragorn. It wasn’t until I started doing good mornings that I figured out how to engage the hips properly.

And obviously you don’t have to go too wide (it wrecks my hips) but the low-bar position makes a huge difference.

[quote]DragnCarry wrote:
CoolColJ wrote:
and look downwards with hip drive,

Could you clarify this?

[/quote]

[quote]Ryan P. McCarter wrote:
There’s no need to use a wide stance. I did Olympic squats yesterday and my PC is killing me today.

So go wide if it suits you, but if you like a narrower stance, you can go deeper and get, in my opinion, a greater effect.[/quote]

true, but most people in my experience are deeply quad dominant and don’t know how to use or activate their P-chain. If you possess the necessary hip mobility, deep narrow stance squats to a great job on the P-chain, but most people do not, at least not without working for it, and are so quad dominant their p-chain might as well be hibernating. In this case, as well as the OP’s, I think wider stance low bar squatting helps more, because it takes away some of the quad activity.

I’m going through the same thing now myself, even though I’m not quad dominant. I just currently have a lot of mobility/soft tissue and some technique issues which are making it hard to feel the hams in an olympic style squat. So I’ve thrown in wide stance box squats on my RE day, along with sumo deads.

[quote]CoolColJ wrote:
DragnCarry wrote:
CoolColJ wrote:
and look downwards with hip drive,

Could you clarify this?


[/quote]

This is interesting. But I’m not sure I’d suggest this to a novice/beginner, for the simple fact that they haven’t even learned how to control the hips to keep them from rising FIRST in the squat out of the hole, which is a terrible thing to do. So discussing the finer points of hip drive with the extensor reflex vs. neutral neck and looking down is really a moot point for them.

That being said, I did bookmark that article, and I’ll be trying some of that out. :slight_smile:

Try doing a few sets of pull throughs and you’ll see how it can translate to squats and deadlifts.

http://www.weightliftingdiscussion.com/pullthrough.html

I used to have shitty glute/ham activation thanks to years and years of playing hockey (it built my quads up so much that they took over in said lifts). Pull thru’s are great and I will always have them in my program.

[quote]Ryan P. McCarter wrote:
There’s no need to use a wide stance. I did Olympic squats yesterday and my PC is killing me today.

So go wide if it suits you, but if you like a narrower stance, you can go deeper and get, in my opinion, a greater effect.[/quote]

My hamstrings never got sore from squatting close. Not once.

There is a reason that Louie Simmons says that beginners should squat wide…it builds up the hips and hamstrings to a greater degree than squatting close.

You’ve gotten some good advice on technique.

Do you do any dynamic warm ups or activation type exercises? I have had some success with band walks and bridges.

band walk

bridges
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDGGjHtXHPg&feature=related