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Is Raising Your Heels to Squat Considered Cheating?


Hey guys, I'm a beginner. I've been messing around with the bar in the squat rack for three months now, and I find that I just CANNOT perform a flat footed squat. I was falling over again today when FINALLY I received some tips from two very nice guys who were obviously serious weight lifters.

They simply gave me two 1.25kg plates for under my heels. And fuck, yeah, with their help, 1) I sqautted with correct form (they helped me until I did it right) and 2) without falling on my ass.

So...Is that cheating? Arnold does it in the pic....
Can you train yourself to squat without the heel raisers, better question, is it really necessary?!



It's not cheating. You couldn't do it with plates in a PLing competition, but you could always just buy squat shoes. They have heels built in.

  1. Widen stance

  2. arch your back hard as possible throughout the movement

  3. Reinforce torso position with cues (head up, elbows forward)

  4. spread knees while dropping into the hole THE PURPOSE OF THIS IS TO LOAD THE HIPS WHICH WILL KEEP YOUR LOWERBACK FROM ROUNDING, IF YOU CAN'T FEEL THE WEIGHT TRANSFERRING TO YOUR HIPS THEN YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG (try this with your bodyweight first to get the hang of it, once you feel it in your hips and not your knees you're probably doing it right)

  5. spread your toes out, if you do this too much along with the spreading of your knees you're probably going to feel your groin flexibility limit you, in this case point them out less until you are flexible enough. You're going to have to find your sweet spot in the stance and foot placement with trial and error.

  6. Make sure you're driving through your heels, you should be able to lift your toes throughout the lift without falling.

  7. Stretch all of the bodyparts involved in the squat daily and do mobility drills, do a search and you'll find several stretching and mobility movements

  8. record yourself squatting and see what you're doing. You can also upload the video onto this site so you can ask others for help

hope that helps

also look up the 'SquatRX' series on youtube

  1. Get squat shoes if you want lol


Whats your goal, big legs or a big squat.


Very important question. Both can be achieved with the squat, but the technique is extremely different.


be careful with this... I always heard and did this and ended up with a nagging lower back injury that once I went to a therapist, turns out it was from keeping my back very arched when squatting (didn't help that my posture naturally had an excessive arch which made the problem worse). Having your back arched stresses your spine/back also, not just rounding - the reason you don't want to lean back when military pressing or curling.

Keep it neutral or slightly arched and definitely stay tight and don't round. But don't arch as hard as possible.. I think a better cue is flex your torso as hard as possible if I understand the meaning correctly. If you take another look now at vids of people squatting you will see that their spine angle is essentially neutral, really.

In fact, if you are currently trying to arch your back as much as possible, that could be a big factor in why you couldn't go all the way down without raising your heels.


Thanks for the Feedback!!! The important thing for me right now is that I learn good technique. I'm just a beginner having fun, I don't have any real goals other than to get the sweat and adrenaline going. I'm trolling around T NATION sometimes because I haven't found a training partner/coach/mentor. My gym is kind of low budget, so after 3 months, today was the first time I encoutered some experts. I hope I will see them again. If not I always have y'all. :wink:

Definitely feel my hips/ass activated on the way up when I am doing the squats. Depending on the angle of my feet and breadth of stance determines hamstrings or adductor involvement. As I just learned the technique correctly today, I only challenged myself to 40kg. I just need to build some confidence that I'm not going to fall down anymore...

However, I'm interested to know what the difference is as far as strength vs mass. Doesn't everyone just want to get stronger? And if you get stronger, dont you automatically get bigger?

Anyway, squat shoes and heel raises seem like the same thing to me but I'll definitely look into squat shoes when I go back to the states for holiday.


p.s... definitely not going to arching my back at all.. Maybe I should, a little, but I've always read to keep a relatively straight back, and never to do anything as much as possible.


Do you wear a lot of high heels?


It's not really so much 'size vs. strength' as much as 'big ass vs. big quads'. Using the technique that allows you to push the most weight involves the glutes and hams more than the quads (it's also much harder on the lower back). Using the technique that will build your quads most effectively will require you to drastically reduce the weight.

Of course, you could use both. If you do, I'd recommend doing the PL style first with low reps, then follow it up with the lighter, quad-dominant style for three sets of 8-10.


make sure you break at the hips first and push them back...dont break at the knees first...and you should arch yours back some..


I dance tango a couple times a week- so yeah, I'm in heels a lot. And I never did ballet, so I have think I have limited ability to lengthen my gastrocnemius/achilles tendon. I just have ugly ankles to begin with. They're not so slender, but at least they're not skinny, so i know they're not going to break, and they DO look much better as i've built up my calves.

Thanks for the advice! I'll start getting comfortable with how both methods feel, and see what happens next...


It wont matter how you squat if your joints aren't mobile enough to produce that movement pattern.
Try these drills, they have helped me with many clients who have problems squatting. If you are still having problems, look farther up the chain at your mobile joints (hips, thoracic spine)and see where the problem lies.



Tried the tennis ball thing.. no sensitive spots, lucky me. I think I'm just not flexible there like some people.


Goblet squats and read Dan John's latest article


Also stretch the calves a lot post workout


wtf?????? No disrespect... But what kind of question is "big mass vs big quads"???? Not only that, but what does that have to do with squatting PowerLifting style or ass-to-grass???

If anything the OP's question "mass vs strength" is a relevant question.
-Being bigger does not mean being stronger.
-Being strong is more than having big muscles. It includes having the CNS activating more fast twitch muscle fibers. Plus having the bone density and joint strength to support that strong & fast contraction + the heavy weight.

If you ever go to a Powerlifting, Strongman, or Olympic Weightlifting competition you will see some "normal" or "small" guys moving more weight than a lot of the bigger guys.


That isn't what Jay asked...

And I would hope anyone giving advice knows that different setups will involve different muscles to different degrees.


I figured that would come up. It was a little hard to follow (and I'm really not sure Bre was responding what I think she was responding to)

Joab asked if her goal was a big squat or big legs, I seconded the question, Bre asked what the difference was in size and strength (which I thought was directed at us), so I elaborated a little. Squatting PL-style only gave me a bigger ass. When I changed techniques to target the lower portion of my quads, they started coming up to par with the mass I'd built in my ass and upper quads.

So it really boils down to whether she's squatting for aesthetic reasons, or if she plans to do a meet, or maybe she just wants to move a lot of weight?