T Nation

In the Spirit of all These Form Check Threads...


Seeing as the latest of these people have seemed to get a lot of good info, Ill throw my hat into the ring. I maybe shoulda went a little heavier to more magnify my issues, but I already see a few things I need to work on.

Squat: 95% of my 1RM. Felt lighter than that, but I may not quite have gotten depth. Could just be the angle though:

Bench: Also 95% of my estimated 1RM, but went way too smooth for that.

Deadlift: 91%. Wasnt feelin too great by this time, so this seems accurate.

A few notes: I just got a tattoo on my upper back, so bar/hand/elbow placement was a little weird on squats. Also my core was GONE for bench, so I didnt get quite as much arch/leg drive as usual. Deadlift, I was dead, so form flaws are slightly magnified. I definitely see some things I need to work on, but Im gonna hold my own self critique to see what other folks say.


Out of curiosity, what weights were those?

And to make this worthwhile, work on your walkout. Quit that shuffling business. Three crisp steps, get your air, and squat.


Nothin too impressive on the weights, 425-340-450

And yeah the walkout was junk. The rep before that one was even worse. Should note though, this is the first time having 400+ on my back since before my surgery in August. Thats one of the reasons I wanted to sneak in something heavy before I start another training cycle and go back down to 330.

Oh also if its relevant, BW was 220. I still have some unnecessary chub from said surgery (plan to complete at 198)


Really nice lifts dude. I'm sure other people will have more helpful things to say than I, but these are all really smooth, fast, nice heavy singles. Great work.

For your squat: biggest thing that jumped out to me was your bar placement, I felt like it looked a little awkward and if it was a little higher, you might have kept your torso a little more upright and hit depth easier. But who knows how much of difference the new tattoo made - that's just my only real critique based on the video.

The bench looked really easy, again my only critique is what you addressed already, that you could have been tighter through your legs. When it touches you can see you squeezing your hips up to get that leg drive, and even though your butt doesn't leave the bench, if you got tight enough so that that leg drive wasn't visible, it would mean you were saving some serious energy that could add some pounds to your bench. But again, you said you typically are a little bit tighter, I'm just looking at this one video.

for your, it's nice to see that your problem is NOT unloading all the weight onto your back haha, that's what almost everyone else's problem is. It looks like you have really strong legs and the weight moves really well. My only suggestion would be to maybe play around with starting with your hips just the slightest bit higher, and trying to create more tension in your hamstrings at the start of the pull. Overall, it looks way better than the average deadlifter to me, but I think you are relying on your quads a little too much and could maybe be hinging a little better. Like I said, I think just playing a little bit with the angles in your start position might help.

You're a strong guy and I'm not, so take all this with a grain of salt haha, but that's what I see. Great lifts, hope you get some good advice.


Yeah the bar placement on squat definitely felt weird, and Ive just recently switched to a lower bar position, so still kinda learning it. However a squat workout not too long ago, I did a set of high bar followed by low bar for the same weight/reps and it was tons harder. I may switch back to high bar eventually, but I think for my next training cycle at least Im gonna stick with low bar.

Bench: my thoughts exactly.

Deadlift: I shoulda went heavier. Ive noticed on heavier attempts I really dont bring my glutes into the pull enough, I believe thats what you mean by hinging better? This pull is 50+ pounds under than what I think I could get so it kinda fails to show that. Probly have to get more videos on this.

Edit: I wasnt clear: The high bar set was much harder than the low bar set.


All my above 90% lifts do not go up that easy. I think your holding back, you can go heavier! nice lifts. Your at the point where I would need to see you attempt a failed lift to point out any real weak areas. Im sure some may find a little thing here or there but overall good lifts.


Yeah I was worried about that heh. My squat sucks, and has been flying up, so I think its mostly a matter of getting used to the heavier weights I can handle, and learning to grind. Bench is pretty set, Im either fast and smooth or I die at my sticking point. I can seriously only remember pushing through a good bench sticking point once in the last year or so, and it always feels worse than it looks. Deadlift, Im just a damn slacker, and its my worst lift.

I dont like to fail lifts in the gym, but you may be right for this purpose. I train alone so it'd be nice to get some feedback on a failed lift.


Yeah that Is what I meant by hinging. You look like you could be using your whole posterior chain more. But again, overall the lift looks great. I'm with popeye, I think we need to see some honest max attempts in order to give you serious critique, because all these lifts look pretty solid and the issues with them are not very pronounced. We might need to see some true maxes to give true critiques.

Also good to know about the high/low bar switch . It does look a little awkward in the video, but I'm sure you will figure it out soon. I would just suggest 1) maybe doing a little more intermediate bar placement, lower than you used to, but higher than in the vid? I personally had some issues with form and hitting proper depth with low bar, so I would suggest moving the bar just low enough that it definitely feels decidedly easier than a really high placement, but still keeping it high enough so that you can keep your torso more upright/get to depth easily. But again, I'm biased haha. I'm sure you will figure it out as you go.


PS what you just said about either blasting a bench rep, or getting caught at the sticking point - telltale sign that you could be tighter haha. The harder arch and better leg drive will be the difference between a heavy rep just plopping, and you being able to grind it out.


Makes sense. My core has always been a weak point, and now I got chopped up its just downright embarassing. I can't do chins because my abs cramp/strain and they are also the first thing to go on bench. I cant figure out why it hasnt affected my squat too much, although today I could definitely tell my core was cashed out from squatting.


That's really interesting about the core weakness. Might make sense why the low bar feels so much easier for you, and also why you sort of squat your deadlifts up instead of using your hips and back as much as you might. But if you know the problem, you know the solution haha. Hanging leg raises, barbell rollouts, and hollow rocks. Make that core your strongest point, and you'll probably start hitting PR's on your other lifts without changing anything else.


Squat: Looked like a good lift to me, appears like you have more. Bar placement already been mentioned so Im sure you have a good grasp on that. Maybe work on getting your elbows under the bar more as opposed to flared back. This could be causing you to have a little excessive forward lean at the bottom. All in all minor adjustments.

Bench: Also looked like an easy rep for you, I would say after the hand off, pause a second or so longer to lock your shoulders and upper back into a good "down and in" position. If you look up Dave Tates videos on benching he will go over that more in depth.

DL: Easy rep as well. Not a whole lot to say about it, maybe in the future post a heavier set or rep to possibly see where a breakdown occurs.

Pretty good looking lifts all around, seems like you've got a good handle on things.


I dont advocate lifting to failure in training. However for form and sticking points attempting a controlled lift that over your max, points out any weakness immediately. You wont notice during the lift but when you watch the video afterwards you will see it straight away. This would be a good tool for you since you train alone. Works great for squats and bench not really deads. If you hire a high level coach which probably not one in your area they will have you do this on video, send it to them, fix your weakness and charge you for it. Im just saying learn how to do it yourself and save some money.

Im not saying that this replaces a good coach when needed, just saying it a tool everyone can learn for themselves. If you what more info on how to set up a max overload attempt pm me and I could find you some video links. I would post them but there on my other computer.


Hey man, really nice lifts, I can't tell you how much I respect someone who wants to get better and opens themself up to criticism to do so, it's a telltale sign of success.


what I like about your squat
- First, you sit down, not back, this loads your quads much more and is one of the reasons you came up so well, I really like how far your push your knees forward. Overall I feel you have great hip and annle flexibility.

What I feel you can improve upon
- walk out: try a split stance pick. It makes it much easier to get your set up to 3 steps, and I find I can unrack anything with a split stance, whereas before my walk out was horrendous.
-big air : watch this lift a few times, and you'll notice you didn't really get a deep breath in, the breath you took in was fairly shallow and your mouth was even moving during the lift. Not the end of the world, but this would go a long way to stabilize your core. Take a deep ass breath and hold it till you feel like your head will explode, also expand your midsection big time. Just make a big stomach and hold it, you aren't using a belt, but it really helps to emphasize as you push against the belt.
- depth : any other time I'd say your depth was good, but as your want to compete this could be an issue. It also depends on where you want to compete, if they call 90' depth you're good, if you're going USAPL depth, you need to take it down 2-4'... don't be alarmed, look at what 4 inches looks like, it's not a huge deal. What will improve this right away is going moderate bar... not high bar, just in the shelf below the traps... I really feel that will be the right spot for you. which leads to my next point.
Low bar - low bar is great for you, as you're very posterior chain dominant, but it takes very flexible hips to get depth, and right now you're right at 90' or a little bit above. Let me know where you're competing and we'll figure it out.
Hand placing - this is what's really killing you. Notice how you fall forward and round your upper back just a little bit when you hit the hole. This will go away the further you can bring your arms in, but switching to moderate bar and bringing your arms in will also eliminate this as well as make getting depth much easier.
Try this warm up before you squat

Maybe do the shoulder capsule stretch a few times. I'd also add some band pull aparts, 2x20 is good and I always notice it's much easier to get under the bar afterwards. Also, feel free to substitue the band stretches for regular stretches, not a huge deal.
Shoes- for the way you squat, flats are great, for getting depth heeled shoes are excellent. I would advise a small heel for you, it won't mess you up, or put too much empasis on your quads, but should do the trick.

That's about it for squat. I see 500 in you very very soon.


what I like:
great leg drive, that's your biggest strength by far, you have excellent technique there.

What you can improve on:
using your lats. Right now I'd say you're just lowering it with your chest. Put your hands out in front of you, and flex your lats, feel underneath the armpit and feel how tight they are. Now keep that tightness and practice a few air reps. You'll notice your elbows almost tuck automatically, think about bending the bar, turn your hands so the pinkies come towards each other, and practice a few more air reps, you'll notice you activate your lats even more.

What this will do for you, is make pausing on your chest much easier. It looks like you try to touch low, and tuck your elbows as that's what you're supposed to do, but as you lower it, the bar scoots towards your chest right before you touch, this is a good indication that you're only using your pecs. When you use your lats, it's very easy and feels natural to touch lower, and once again, it feels very natural to pause.


What I like: Everything

What you can improve upon:

take this with a grain of salt, I love your attitude, but you're being overly hard on yourself. Your deadlift is awesome, and 90% should be pretty close to what 95% looks like, and 100% will probably get ugly, if it doesn't, it's not 100%. I think you need to just get confident, and stop worrying about your issues, and just focus on what you're doing well, you have a wicked strong posterior chain, a great set up, nice flat arched back, great leg drive... FUCK YA BABY! you're a great deadlifter, no doubt about it. You've easily got 500 in you, and 600 is not very far off at all.

Hope this helps, I think you're a great lifter man. Please update with how your meet goes.


I also wanted to comment on the overall positive attitude in this thread as well as the excellent advice given. I'm really happy to see people posting who want their form critiqued, and are receiving such quality advice, as well as advice that is easy to receive.

Great job guys.


Yeah, I will bump this thread after another training cycle with some closer to max/supramax stuff. I think I have enough tips to work on until then.

I can assume what this means, but Im not entirely sure.

Hmmm, damnit, you're right. Im usually better about this.

I do get 20-30 pounds out of a belt, but I cant wear one yet. The pressure on the incision is a bit too uncomfortable. Perhaps thats why Im not utilizing the big air, I dont have a belt to push it on.

This is awesome to hear. My hamstrings used to absolutely suck. I'm talkin major strain running the 2 mile, not even a sprint, and not being able to do crap for weight on leg curls. I am glad I'm on the right track there, both with strength and fixing the mobility/injury issues.

I've seen this advice from multiple people stronger than me, but I've tried it and it doesnt seem to help. I dont have shoulder/elbow mobility issues for bringing the grip in, but when I do, I seem to have less power. I assume this is a case of "suck it up and do it anyways" rather than trying it a few times.

I'm happy you brought this up, and frankly this statement to me, validates that you know what you are talking about haha. I know my lats are an issue, but in a slightly different way: I feel like I know how to use my lats, and I am, but they are comparatively weak to my chest/shoulders/tris. Also it was uncomfortable squeezin em with the fresh ink right there, but I tried to anyways.

This relative weakness is due to my training. Before surgery, my back was a minor weakness. Since then, I havent given it enough attention and it appears it might have regressed into a more major weakness. I cant do chins cuz my abs cramp, Ive been too lazy with heavy rowing, and the lat work that I have done is all BB style assistance, not good hard strength work.

Well, DL is clearly my worst lift, imo, but yeah I see what you are saying. Its just frustrating that Ive benched 4 and havent pulled 5 yet I guess (even though Im fairly sure I have it in me right now)

My next potential meet is in April I think. If something else pops up in between I might go, I always train harder when I have a meet to shoot at.


Hey man, thanks for asking questions to help make sure you receive this advice, you're handling this very well and not getting the least bit defensive, but rather embracing it. A very admirable quality.

A split stance pick is just one foot in front of the other, I find it gives a much larger sweet spot to work with, as if my feet are too far forward or back I have a hell of a time with my walk out. For me, this made a huge difference as soon as i tried it.

It's something worth giving a shot during warm ups anyways.

Don't worry too much about the belt, I actually hit all my best lifts without one, then they went down when I put it on... I was also doing a very demanding program and was simply burned out at the time. If anything you'll just be that much stronger when you put it on.

As far as the hand placing, closer is generally better, but I do agree that it doesn't always work. Too close and I feel out of whack, I think the big take home is to really squeeze the upper back together. you can do this and focus on this no matter what hand position you take.

As far as the lats go, working your lats will really help.. but believe it or not, it's not necessary. My programs don't even call for direct back work... I do it anyways though. I feel it's more a matter of using what you've got, and just really drilling that technique right from your first warm up set with the bar. Your bench may go down for a bit, but everyone I've spoken with, and myself included, saw major gains after they learned how to use their lats. It will also save you a potential peck tear as it takes a lot of stress off the pecs.

I'm positive you have 500 in you right now, you have some of the best conventional technique I've seen, you get really tight, have a great back position, and use your legs to launch the bar off the ground... It may be a weak lift for you as you have relatively short arms and legs compared to your torso, but in terms of technique, it's your best lift. And where technique is good, numbers always follow. I feel you have 550 in you by April.

Where do you usually miss?

Hope all is well man


Yeah man there were two things that got me to 400, one was weight gain (i was a fatass 240+) and the other was working on lats. Two guys i used to train with, one that benched about 440 at 198, the other hit 500 at around 240, i noticed they werent a ton stronger than me in the chest/tris/shoulders, but their back strength demolished mine. I remember the 198 dude doing pullups with 4 plates strapped on for reps.

For where i usually miss deads: well, the last one was because my pecs cramped up, and i just dropped it a bit below the knees. Before that i moderately hitched a reverse band pull. Other than those two its either been a matter of nursing my hammies and bailing, or just not commiting to the pull and bailing. Thats kinda my issue with the lift, any kind of grind and it destroys my recovery, and with my hamstring issues ive kinda learned to be tentative. I didnt really realize this until right now haha. Time to nut up.


Good point about the upper back man.

And don't worry about deads, they're a very emotional lift, I find my training/gym max is usually about 30lbs under my meet max. I think you'll easily get 500 at your meet, more like 525-550

I'd actually make your attempts 475-500-525... but you'll know best all the way