T Nation

Learning to Squat Properly


#1

Did most of you have to invest in the help of a "professional" (trainer etc.) to learn to squat properly? I just started trying to squat again, this time I'm going past parallel with less weight, but I'm afraid of my form being wrong and injuring myself. My left knee used to wobble and crack, so I lowered the weight and focused on pushing my knees out, but I still have some soreness in my knees. Is the soreness normal or an indicator of my doing something wrong?

I wouldn't mind spending the money to hire a trainer just to show me how to spot, but I'd want someone who really knows correct form. I feel comfortable with pretty much all other lifts except for the squat. My knees always feel vulnerable so I never feel like I can push myself as much as I'd like to.

Any suggestions on how you learned and knew you were using the proper technique?


#2

My powerlifting coach helped me. I squat quite deep, Oly deep in fact. I've never had pain in my knees, even when geared and handling a lot of weight.

Not to sound negative, but most trainers in commercial gyms suck at teaching the squat.

Where do you live? Maybe you can meet up with someone online who knows what he/she is doing.


#3

I'll second this. I wouldn't spend a dime hoping a commercial gym trainer could teach me how to squat. The ones I've seen teaching clients appear to know F.A. and do more harm than help.

I mostly taught myself and then trained at a PL club. See if someone on these boards that appears to know something lives near you and can help you out.

I don't get knee pain either.


#4

I DID spend money on a commercial gym trainer and it was DEFINITELY a mess. I videoed myself from time to time so I knew I wasn't able to get to parallel without rounding my back - my trainer claimed I just needed to stretch my hamstring. After much stretching (and not much improvement), I fired him (and not just because he failed to fix my form...).

I started working on it on my own, but again, not much improvement since I didn't really know how to fix it. Then I saw mmgalb's log, where she talked about going to see Mike Robertson and get an assessment of her imbalances, etc. I emailed Mike (who is based in Indiana, I believe) to see if he knew anyone in the Los Angeles area (where I live) who could do something similar. He referred me to a friend of his, Craig Rasmussen, who works for Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove's gym and I immediately set up an appointment.

It wasn't cheap, but after an hour-long assessment and watching a couple of my squat videos, he told me my hamstrings had nothing to do with my rounding - it was a stability issue, not a flexibility issue, and within 5 minutes, I was squatting well past parallel without rounding my back anymore. I now do a coaching session with him once a month and have him write my programs for me. Best thing that ever happened to my training.

Okay, so that was a bit of a novel, but basically I do think that if you're worried about your form, the best thing you can do is find someone who knows what they're talking about to help. Barring that, DEFINITELY video yourself and ideally watch the videos in between sets to see if there's anything you can focus on correcting.


#5

dont do it like a duck :slight_smile: I pulled my hamstring!


#6

you can start by learning the basics of form from some smart vids around here. Also making your own vids and asking for advice from the peeps in PW will help. Finally if you have the money invest in a few sessions with the proper gym/coach. I lift 2-3 times a week at a commercial gym but drive to a powerlifting gym once a week for coaching.


#7

Thanks for your advice, everyone. I agree with your suggestions on not asking a trainer in a commercial gym. I don't really have a lot of faith in the trainers where I work out. I googled some powerlifting gyms near my area, do you think it's a safe bet if I just pick one and call to ask if anyone is offering consultations? What about a crossfit gym? I have a couple in my town, are they pretty knowledgeable from your experience?

I'm in central Illinois if anyone has any recommendations on whom I could contact.

I've been lurking at the videos on this site and in general. There are good tips, but I feel like I would benefit from someone critiquing me. I guess I can try and figure out how to video myself with my iPhone and possibly get some critiques here in the meantime. This may be a dumb question, but for those of you who tape yourselves, how do you set up your camera? Just set it on a chair?

Chimera, do you think if I emailed Mike Robertson that he'd have a suggestion for me?


#8

That's a little harsh on your commercial gym trainer. Tight hamstrings are a common cause of back rounding in the squat, most of the population has that problem and stretching them can often be good advice. What was your stability issue?


#9

I use a box or a bench to set the camera on - a chair would work too. You could try emailing Mike and see - he might know someone!

Oh, he had a lot of other shitty features. He subscribed to the "heavy lifting will make you bulky/manly" theory and openly mocked my aspirations to compete. I made very little progress in anything during the 2 years I trained with him, despite putting 100% effort in (and outside of) the sessions. The failure to accurately assess my problem was just icing. My fault for sticking around so long.

Core stability, primarily - I guess I was having a hard time staying tight (or understanding how to stay tight) at the bottom. Craig had me squat with super-light weight, thinking about pulling myself down into the hole and bracing my abs, and magically it all came together.


#10

I use my little canon powershot and set it up on a bench. Best view is a side view to see depth and such.


#11

my issue with training with the commercial trainers is that I have never seen them bench squat or deadlift. ever. they ALL use those assist machines. I've watched my coach do stuff along with me and watching her do it properly tells me A - she knows HOW to do this stuff and B. helps me internalize proper posture.

I'm not saying ALL commercial trainers are bad, just that those in my gym are skinny little people whose main focus is to help other peeps be skinny.


#12

Unfortunately, I have to agree. I have been a member of a number of gyms in the past five years and am almost always disappointed but what I see trainers doing with their clients.


#13

This is pretty helpful advice for me too since I have lower back rounding issues on the bottom of my squat as well which really hinders my desire to squat well below parallel and my hamstrings are plenty flexible.

I've had trainers at the Y that I work out at when I'm at home ask me if I've considered using a leg press machine over the squat or if I'd prefer to use dumbbells over a bench and it's pretty disheartening. Especially since I'm going to be a trainer in a commercial gym after I graduate; hopefully I'll get clients that actually are interested in doing some heavy lifting (but I doubt it)