Since I have started squatting I have always started the movement by sticking my butt out. Are you only supposed to do this for low bar squats? If so do you just start the high bar squat like a front squat: with bending of the knees?
Why would you bend at the knees first for a front squat?
Because in a front squat you want to keep your torso as upright as possible and lower it down between your legs. If you try and send your butt back then your torso will lean forwards to keep you balanced but when the weight gets heavy it will be lost forwards.
Depends on what you are trying to do with your squats...
Oly Lifters do their high bar back squats as much like front squats as possible (with an upright torso). That involves more quads. One might want to squat sending ones butt back. That would involve more butt / hammies. One might also want a wider stance (Oly Lifters do their high bar back squats with a fairly narrow stance) because that involves more adductors. Up to you...
honestly from what I've seen might as well just drop in the hole
This is how I (try to) do them.
There's another alternative...start by pushing your knees out like that guy in the vid.
This keeps your body upright and balanced on your heels.
i want to try the upright torso way of back squats because when I stick my butt out first, my lower back rounds at the bottom before I'm too deep, like around 85 degrees maybe (from looking at a video my friend took). I'm thinking if I stay more upright this might not happen. That and I'd like to improve my quads anyway.
That's what I started doing and I've gotten a lot more power out of the hole (though I lose a bit at midpoint) and a lot less stress on my hips.
Watch and learn
Yes. The natural bottom position of a low bar back squat (sitting your butt back) is higher than that of a high bar back squat (keeping the torso more upright by breaking simultaneously from the knees and hips). That being said it is possible to get a below parallel position with a sitting back style squat. One just needs to work up to it (check out the latest T nation article for some advice on how to progress).
Another thing that might help you is narrowing your stance slightly. Of course I don't know how wide you are at the moment, but a wider squat stance has a higher bottom position than a narrower squat stance, too.
How you are best to squat depends greatly on what you are wanting to do with your squat. In your case, what muscles you want to be the main movers for the movement, I guess. The sitting the butt back squats are a lot more like deadlifts (I find) in what muscles they train the most. I personally need to be a bit careful of my lower back as both those movements place quite a strain on an area that is often the first to get over-trained.
Also play around with the angle of your foot. As far straight forward as I can makes my hams and back work more, and feet pointed way out makes me more upright and more quad dominant for me.
so true my lower back started to revolt on me a few months ago. i would highly suggest that you give your lower back adequate rest and not fall into the trap of frequent heavy sqautting because "it's the only way to get big" yea the squat is badass and i will always do it, but i feel that tnation folks (myslef included) push heavy squats so much that it's ingrained in us that if we don't squat heavy for a few legs sessions that we will lose progress, strength, size or an ego boost of pushing heavy weight.
i am suffering the consequences of not paying attention to my body and thinking i could over come a nagging (turned chronic lower back/QL/Psoas/ every fucking muscle in the general region problem). I went from squatting a consistent 275x12x4 to now barely being able to do bodyweight (160) without feeling a twinge. however, since i have to use light weight it has given me a chance to really focus on trying different stances and approaches to the movement. I found out that i was really using my lower back more than anything to move the weight because I pushed my butt back so much. Advice from skip hill that i have internalized is don't let your ass get away from you. meaning keep it back but not so far that it turns into a butchered good morning. rememeber if you're not getting at least a little quad pump from any type of squat it's probably because you're letting you ass get too far from you and your lower back is doing the majority of the work.
this is all based on personal experience so others might and probably will disagree with me. but i have to believe that there are some in my exact situation (whether they read this or not idk).
just some advice, take or leave it.