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Horrible Squat Technique. Help?


Hi all,

I've been lurking for a really long time and finally decided to take the plunge. After reading just about every single article on this site and watching all the Training Lab videos, I decided to stick to basics. I went Rippetoe's "Starting Strength" front to back twice. I bought a power rack a few days ago, assembled it, and went immediately to work.

Well, my squat absolutely SUCKS! I should preface this by saying that I have poor posture. I've got it all: forwarded rounded shoulders, head forward/down, anterior pelvic tilt...

I think my general posture makes squatting damn near impossible for me. I experimented with just about every type of grip (narrow, neutral, wide), stance (wide, narrow, toes in, toes out, etc), and bar placement (high, middle, low). Everything hurts. Sometimes it's my shoulders, other times it's my triceps or my wrists, others it's my knees or lower back.

And that's just the set up. When I actually go down, my back is severely arched, I lean forward a lot so much that I fear falling flat on my face, my knees go over my feet...

The sad part is, despite all the pain, I thought I was squatting correctly and that the pain was simply part of the exercise. A buddy of mine (who helped me assemble my power rack) pointed out all the flaws in technique. I trust his judgment since he also started with Rippetoe and has subsequently moved on to more advanced programs (he's been lifting for three years). Ironically, he says my deadlift is damn near perfect.

What can I do? Due to my poor posture, squatting feels awfully unnatural. I want to get serious about lifting though. I refuse to be a 23 year old male weighing 148 pounds at 5 feet 9 inches tall. I REFUSE!!!

Help? :slightly_smiling:


Need some video if you want form critique. Other than that find some videos of proper squat technique and start with just the bar for awhile. As it feels better then add weight slowly and work up from there.


video or we can't do shit


Well unfortunately I don't have a camera but I described it fairly accurately. In any case, thanks.

My next question then is this: are the benefits of learning to squat properly worth the potential consequences of squatting horribly in the meantime? Meaning, should I continue to squat until I get technique down (even if it takes me a month or two or more) or will a few months of bad technique do more harm than good?

Thanks again for the help.


Bad technique is always bad. Just like what everyone else has said, look up vids of proper technique and practice with just the bar or even just your BW.


Thanks for the suggestions guys, but that's the problem. I've already watched countless videos, I've read the books and articles, I've done just about everything short of getting a coach (I can't afford that). I wouldn't waste bandwith and people's time if I hadn't done everything I could first.

My problem isn't a matter of knowing the technique. I know it. My problem is execution. My brain knows what's right but my body can't do it. Are there any corrective methods I'm not aware of?

I think I'll try bodyweight squats with a broomstick in the meantime.

Thanks again.


PRACTICE! what do you want us to tell you?


I know that practice should inevitably bring about improvement. Ideally, my technique should sort itself out with practice. I understand that. I'm just wondering if poor technique is part of the process, part of learning.

I just don't want to do any (potentially) irreparable damage in my pursuit of the iron game.


most people aren't very good a squatting (or anything else) when they first start doing it. for now only go up to a weight that you can do with perfect form. depending on how bad your form actually is, it is possible for you to permanently fuck up your body.


Thanks. That's what I was worried about. I think I'll stick to bodyweight squatting with a broomstick until I nail down technique. I can't even squat properly with the bar, ufortunately :frowning:

So with that said, Mark Rippetoe's "Starting Strength" program is heavily based on the squat, followed by the bench press, the deadlift, the overhead press, and the power clean...since I'm only going to do bodyweight squatting for the time being, what other lift can I throw in there to add volume/keep things balanced? Some type of row? A second deadlift variation? I've read that the snatch-grip deadlift is good for posture.



Box squats from the bottom position, focus on keeping your shoulders down and back, back locked in tight, hinging at the hips not the spine. Goblet squats, go deep, work on feeling your hips and ass work at the bottom of the motion. Overhead broom stick squats, again focusing on feeling your back "lock in", you'll known it when you feel it.

If you lay flat on your back can you pull your knees in to your chest until your legs are 90 degrees to your body without your back rounding?

Without seeing a video of you squat no one is going to be able to tell you what will specifically fix YOUR squatting problem. The suggestions above fixed my squat, so try them, with light weight they shouldn't hurt anything but I can't promise they will help.

There are other ways to accomplish what the squat does, they just aren't as fun. Practice and keep at it and you will likely be able to get the exercise down, it is one of the most fundamental human movement patterns, but it's not the end of the world if you choose not to squat.


Do some light overhead squats before your back squats. Should help get your form down.


Many thanks to everyone who has provided their suggestions. I'll try to apply the knowledge you have all shared here. One last question: will lifting with proper technique help correct everyday posture?

Thanks again! I'll try to post a video by the end of the week or so. Should I upload it here or make a new thread?


Short answer: It depends on why your posture is bad in the first place

Longer answer: Lifting with correct technique assumes that you are able to lift with posture that is biomechanically correct in the first place. If not, what is "correct" from a lift may have to be modified. Poor posture is often the result of many factors, primarily the culmination of the stresses of your day to day activities (or lack there of). Do you spend a lot of time hunched over your keyboard? Driving? Slumped in a chair? Etc. You won't work out even a fraction of your daily waking time, so correct posture needs to be addressed through out all of your daily activities. Some postural problems can only be corrected through therapy or other treatment.


Learning to squat correctly takes time and practice. Practice a lot and, if you are like most of us and don't have a full time coach, video a lot so you can see what's actually gong on and work on making minor improvements to your form as you go. If you do this consistently, your form will improve from poor to passable to good.

Also, keep reading and learning about what makes squat form "good" squat form from accomplished squatters and coaches. Be vary of "tips" you get from anonymous posters (myself included). Some form tips are good some are not, but when you are learning it isn't always easy to tell the difference. For now, I would encourage you to at least make sure you are hitting proper depth.

Moreover, don't get discouraged or think that you should be good right out of the box, or this week, or even this month. It may take months just to get to "passable," "good" form may take much longer than that. And don't be afraid to use some weight, just don't go crazy or go to failure. For now always leave a few reps in the tank until you get your form down, injuries usually happen with bad form when you are near failure.

Finally, squat like a girl, not the douche the in the background.


Post vids, or we can't really help you.


Like everyone says, post a vid. You have a desktop/laptop but not a camera on your phone or a friend w/ an iPhone?
Since you know what good form looks like, get on a box and go from there. Even if it's just you squatting off the box and just setting yourself down, start there.

I'm doing some work with postural analysis and have learned a lot about the tension and forces in the muscles and how much work you need to do to get things right. If the box squats are ugly drop them and the squats all together, then try these....

Stop sitting down, or avoid it at all costs. Either lay down or stand, that's what our body does the most and sitting down is the last thing YOU need to do. When I say lie down I don't mean with 10 pillows either, the point is to get a neutral back, optimal length in the hip muscles and to help your kyphotic posture and neck issues.
Change your training. This is the most important thing. If you care that much take a (thorough) look through the articles they have on posture. This is by far the best one I have read here, read and do everything they say, if you want to squat.

If you want it fed to you, drop your pressing, mostly. You can do some pushups at the end of a session, with a wide grip, but only to get a stretch and pump so that you can do some serious stretching, DC style prefered. Stretch your pecs, very deep, with soft elbows. Start with R-band stretches with your arm parallel to the ground and work all the way up to a 45* angle, behind you.
Stretch and strengthen your external rotators. Face pulls, row work and external rotations. Also, drop the lat work for the time being, they can cause all kinds of havic, at least now. This means you should be hitting the back at least 2x per week.
You also need to loosen up your hips and strengthen your glutes. Be a man and do hip-thrusts. You can always do cold muscle stretches on your hip flexors, so do it, a lot, meaning throughout your workout and during the day, between sets and between meals. This means you might wanna do less leg lifts and hip-flexor ab work, since that's what most people are doing when they cruch... try some planks.

It may seem like it's a lot of restrictions, and it is, but there's plenty to do while you lift.

I might do something like this:
Monday. Back-Heavy
Wednesday. "dynamic" day-Posterior chain work, GHRs are prob best, include those hip thrusts, no deads though, if you can't squat I doubt you can pull. Today would be the day with some mad pumps and they day you stretch until you hate yourself, hit your hammies hard, then have someone else stretch you if you can. same w your glutes, deeeep stretches.
Friday "dynamic" for back, try those lovely kroc rows in here, aim for 15-25 reps for every set today. Finish off with some wide pushups or flies and stretch your pecs hard.
Saturday. Heavy posterior chain.

If you have any other questions, let me know...


I'll call one of my buddies and see if he can help video me sometime this week. Thanks for all the help in the meantime. Much appreciated.


if you know your posture is the problem why not simply correct it


if you know your posture is the problem why not simply correct it