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Help, Squats & Rounding Back


Hi. I'm relatively new to squatting and I've read a lot of the articles here about how to use proper form. I'm having trouble keeping my back from rounding though. I wasn't sure if I was rounding my back at the bottom so today at the end of my workout I did just some body weight squats while watching in the mirror and I can barely get to parallel without my back rounding out.

How can I work on this? I'm trying to improve flexibility, but is the problem just from strength? I mean, if it's rounding with just body weight I don't know if that is the issue. Should I just not go past where I can keep my back straight? In that case I wouldn't really be doing full squats...


read anything by Dave Tate- he tells you to arch your back when you sit onto the box (and if you're not box squatting- GET DOING IT). Follow his advice on squat form and this may fix your issues.

strengthen your abs and lower back- sounds very simple, but that will solve your problems. losing the arch in the squat is because your low back is weak or you are not keeping the arch. this is tricky to learn (keeping the arch) but with mental cues or help from training partners you can fix this issue.

stop squatting in front of the mirror too- that will fuck you up. Change the J hooks around and face the gym/wall instead of the mirror. this will teach you how to squat by feel instead of by sight and may fix 99% of your problems.



Bodyweight squats will have that effect. The bar with weight will help you keep your back straight. Literally get under the bar and pull your shoulder blades back together, and keep them there, then stick your ass out a little and squat. Keep your chest forward and do not look down, look straight to slightly up, and when you come back up, think of driving your heels through the deck and driving your hips forward. Do not contract your abs.
I am no strength coach, but I think this might help. Let me know if it does.


Stick your arse out as much as possible. Squats are mainly with the butt. Also, Keep your chest out and high.

Do the bodyweight squat enough so you can feel when your back is rounding. Then when you're under the bar, reverse the movement just before your back starts to round.

As you practise you will become more flexible and will be able to get lower with a neutral spine. Static stretching before you lift, especially of your front hip (flexors) and calves can really help.


Also, looking sideways might cause the problem. Have someone watch you while you squat with an empty bar.

Look forward and up. This will help to keep your back arched.


Some good tips above.

I respectfully disagree with theoak, though, as I think the best way to increase flexibility is to work on squat depth instead of box squatting with a wide stance. Box squats are great for posterior chain strength, and will make you a beast. However, I think in order to learn form as a brand new squatter, you should focus on depth with an arch, instead of wide stance parallel squats with an arch. In my opinion, many powerlifters lack flexibility (careful, I didn't say all of them! and besides, I'm a PLer too) because they focus exclusively, or nearly so, on parallel squats. It's the rule in their competitions, so that's naturally the focus. Throw box squats in, maybe. Just don't make that the primary focus until you can full squat with good form.

In addition to the advice above, start overhead squatting. Start light, like PVC or broomstick light. Dan John is right, this is a very good way to learn squat specific flexibility. I don't know about your shoulder flexibility, but this should work on that too. Look up his stuff.

Ok, stretching is good here. Stretch the hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Don't worry about the lower back as much. A lot of times it's not actually lower back stiffness causing the rounding, but a combination of low back weakness and really, really tight hamstrings/glutes. Stretching your calves can help you hit depth at the bottom without shifting too far forward.

Just my 2 cents. Good luck.


This is true. I was taught to stand next to a wall facing it, put a piece of tape at eye level, then when I squat or deadlift to keep my eyes focused on that spot. The lower I went my chin would stay up. Something about your back will stay straight if your chin is up at that angle. Dunno, but I apply it to everything, squatting, deadlifts, even at work when I have to lift something now I keep my chin up. Works for me.


Ya i found that focusing on something a little higher than eye level really helps me keep my back straight.


Hamstring flexibility mate. As you lower into the squat you will only be able to maintain neutral spine until your hamstrings are at full length. Any deeper and your lower back will arch. This has nothing to do with strength but sounds like those hammys of yours need some good stetching. Good luck


hams, hip flexors and calves. That and just keeping head up, elbows back, upper back thight chest out back arched. Sit back not down fire out of the hole from the heels and through the chest pusing the chest out and UP.

Drop the load and nail the form. you will bend at the waist buit should be able to keep the core tight and arched.


I was once given this advice when I was a little bodybuilder, probably the BEST squating advice I was ever given.


That calf stretch tip is good to go. I need to use it, I always warm up and then lightly stretch, but not really ever calves. I look forward to more weight this week. I am really getting a lot of good gouge lately on all these squatting threads. I literally have grown all over simply by just squatting more. Maybe it is the more desk-jockeyish job I have this tour that allows me to get to the gym four-five days a week, and log onto t-natty everyday (such a blessing) without the long humps and field ops that are part of work-ups back in the states and make it hard to be consistent. I like it. Is there a cock-pushup thread?


One thing that is important to remember is that static flexibility won't necessariyl carry over to dynamic movements, so static stretching of the calves, hamstrings, and hip flexors will only go so far. You'd be wise to address mobility, as you need to prepare yourself in a more dynamic context where you must stabilize yourself in a given range of motion. The drills in Magnificent Mobility give you just that; it's one of many reasons Mike and I created it.




Thanks. I've tried the suggestions of looking up, pulling shoulders back. I can't really look while I'm doing it but it felt a bit better on the back so I think that helped. I'll try out some of those dynamic stretches too. I'm not getting so far with the static ones.


YOU DONT WANT AN ARCHED BACK. You want your back to be in a neutral position. Arching it will lead to stress and back problems. You should also stretch(on the floor, not standing up) your hamstrings and your hip flexors. After stretching these, ass to grass is a lot easier to attain.


Aragorn hit the nail on the head. About 4 months ago I could deep squat around 135 for 4 sets of six mainly because of crappy form. I started lowering the weight until I could keep my form right during deep squats, and now I work out with 275, sqautting all the way down. And my legs are getting big as hell.

The main thing that helped me was putting my hands as close together (as close to my neck) as possible. It forces you to pop your chest our which makes you keep your back straight and wont really let you look down. Leave your pride at the door and just concentrate on form for a while. Good luck.


It's a minor point, but stretching both the hip flexors and hamstrings means one of them is probably short and one of them is probably stiff, because obviously they cannot both be short as they are antagonists about the hip. In the case of the hip flexors being short and the hamstrings being long or normal but stiff, I would think stretching for the hip flexors and some kind of soft tissue work would be in order for the hamstrings.

I'll also respectfully disagree that arching is the way to go, you just don't want to hyperextend the lumbar spine or use that spinal extension as a stand-in for faulty hip extension.


The angle of the dangle is inadvertently proportional to the heat of the beat. That is all you need to know.