T Nation

Help with Squat Technique

I am having trouble hitting depth on squats.

When I get to parallel or lower, my upper body comes forward significantly (almost parallel with the floor), and it is extremely difficult to keep it upright. So much so that it’s very hard to squat properly, even with no weight on the bar.

I find it ok to keep more upright if I have my arms out in front of me, but when I am holding a bar, the problem comes on hard and fast.

I am assuming this is a flexibility issue, does anyone know where I might be in-flexible and what is causing this problem?

What does your stance look like (how wide) and are you wearing a shoe with a heel or one that is flat?

look into good mornings, i think one of the articles mentioned doing those if there’s a significant forward lean.

Hip flexors maybe. When i first started squatting i had a flexibility issue of hitting depth as well. I’m not anyone important or putting up huge numbers but i can tell you how i fixed the flexibility issue for myself. I stretched my hip flexors, glutes, adductors and abductors as well as my groin and hamstrings. I know it may seem like i’m just rattling off every muscle group in the legs but that’s what i needed to do. I was just tight in my legs and needed to fully stretch them. You can try to stretch these muscle groups 2x daily like i did and assuming its a flexibility issue it will go away.

Also, use of a foam roller may help

Forward lean can be an issue with flexibility or with back strength. However, in my experience it’s usually a matter of technique and how your body is set up.

If you want to use a more upright position, move the bar a little higher up your back and take your stance out a little and push your knees out on the way down.

How strong are your hamstrings? The forward lean is a way to keep the weight on your quads and avoid your hamstrings. Your body won’t want to sit back properly unless your hamstrings are strong enough.

[quote]Pinto wrote:
If you want to use a more upright position, move the bar a little higher up your back and take your stance out a little and push your knees out on the way down. [/quote]

I’d second this. Taking a wide stance and really pushing out the knees did wonders for my form. I’m a lot more upright now and don’t fall forward.

[quote]burt128 wrote:
What does your stance look like (how wide) and are you wearing a shoe with a heel or one that is flat?[/quote]

I am trying to copy the stance/form of Matt kroc/Jim Wendler/Jesse Marunde, so slightly wider than shoulder width, I am trying with bare feet atm.

[quote]Wild_Iron_Gym wrote:
How strong are your hamstrings? The forward lean is a way to keep the weight on your quads and avoid your hamstrings. Your body won’t want to sit back properly unless your hamstrings are strong enough.[/quote]

My hamstrings are pretty strong, in-fact due to the way I was squatting before (fairly wide stance, sitting back but still quite high) I have gained more size on my glutes/hamstrings than my quads.

I can sit back (very difficult), but when i start to come up my lower back rounds and I end up using my back to get the weight up.

[quote]J.Rex wrote:

[quote]Pinto wrote:
If you want to use a more upright position, move the bar a little higher up your back and take your stance out a little and push your knees out on the way down. [/quote]

I’d second this. Taking a wide stance and really pushing out the knees did wonders for my form. I’m a lot more upright now and don’t fall forward.[/quote]

I am trying to copy the form of matt kroc/jim wendler and the likes, so I don’t want to be that ‘upright’, but I am bending forward pretty significantly right now and if I try to use heavy weights I just get completely bent in half.

I’m going to try stretching of all my lower body muscles and see how that helps.

[quote]Goodfellow wrote:
I can sit back (very difficult), but when i start to come up my lower back rounds and I end up using my back to get the weight up.[/quote]

Sounds like you are pushing with your legs first which dumps the weight forward, and voila~ your goodmorning the weight up. You should initiate the squat by keeping your head up and pushing back hard into the bar and firing your glutes first then your quads as you raise the bar. When you squat wide and sit back far the start of the squat is similar to a leg curl.

I like to mentally cue myself and think as if someone was picking me up by the head. Think about when you get up out of a chair. Your probably not thinking “push with legs” you just do it, your whole body works as a unit to stand erect. This is the same idea of doing a sqaut only with weight on your back. Does this make sense?

I had a chronic leaning problem with the squat. Basically found it really difficult to keep my chest up (compounded by my lack of discipline in being able to move more weight when I dip my chest at the bottom).
Read a post by CT saying that it could be an ankle mobility problem. In my case it was; a 5lbs plate on each heel solved it.
Simply put, my ankle was tight enough such that when I got past a half squat (shin a few deg past perpendicular) it would stop my knees from travelling forward. So to get any lower without falling back, I had to lean forward to keep the weight on my mid-foot.
I recommend this; try a BW squat exactly like you would with weight on your back, hand placement and tight back everything. If you’re post is accurate, you’ll still lean. Now put something under your heels and see if it helps.

Sounds like you need a chiropraktor to fix your hip flexability, 2-3 simple manipulations and your “done” ofc you need to stretch so that this issue does not come up again.

[quote]StrengthDawg wrote:

[quote]Goodfellow wrote:
I can sit back (very difficult), but when i start to come up my lower back rounds and I end up using my back to get the weight up.[/quote]

Sounds like you are pushing with your legs first which dumps the weight forward, and voila~ your goodmorning the weight up. You should initiate the squat by keeping your head up and pushing back hard into the bar and firing your glutes first then your quads as you raise the bar. When you squat wide and sit back far the start of the squat is similar to a leg curl.

I like to mentally cue myself and think as if someone was picking me up by the head. Think about when you get up out of a chair. Your probably not thinking “push with legs” you just do it, your whole body works as a unit to stand erect. This is the same idea of doing a sqaut only with weight on your back. Does this make sense?[/quote]

That sounds just like what is happening.

I’m heading to the gym right now to do some squatting. I’ll try giving myself a mental cue to do a ‘good morning’ type movement before I push with my legs

[quote]Goodfellow wrote:

[quote]Wild_Iron_Gym wrote:
How strong are your hamstrings? The forward lean is a way to keep the weight on your quads and avoid your hamstrings. Your body won’t want to sit back properly unless your hamstrings are strong enough.[/quote]

My hamstrings are pretty strong, in-fact due to the way I was squatting before (fairly wide stance, sitting back but still quite high) I have gained more size on my glutes/hamstrings than my quads.

I can sit back (very difficult), but when i start to come up my lower back rounds and I end up using my back to get the weight up.[/quote]

You might just have really bad hip mobility. Your hips coming up first and lower back rounding is usually a sign that you’re quad dominant. Almost everyone starts out quad dominant. It takes a long time to become hamstring dominant. It takes some people years.