T Nation

Long Femur and Widowmaker Squats

Yesterday I was asking a thing about squats to my trainer, as soon as I said “squats” he immediatly looked at me and said “your femur is very long”. I never really paid much attention to it, but it’s true, I’m unsure if my torso is “short” but it’s surely very stocky, while arms are a bit long.

All this to say - I’m having a hard time with squats. I’ve always front squatted and I think I can do it acceptably, but I don’t want to use front squats on Widowmaker sets - it sounds stupid. At the same time, I’m tinkering with back squats but I can’t find the proper setup.
Does anyone have any recommendation, especially with Widomakers in mind?
Grip width, stance width, what the hell should I do, I think my squats tend to look more like squat-mornings but to keep the bar path vertical on the middle of the foot I need to lean the torso forward quite a bit, which makes it hard to keep neutral spine too.

As a side note, the dorsiflexion of my left ankle is limited - I’ve been working on it and it’s been slowly improving but I just can’t push the knees more forward, I end up asymmetrical with the right knee perpendicular to the toe and the left knee somewhere between mid foot and the toe. So the cue of pushing the knees forward is not an option, at least for now.

Basically, I feel like my low bar squat sucks because of how much I need to lean, my high bar sucks because of limited ankle mobility but I seem to be front squatting fine (just in case, I’ll assume my front squats technique sucks balls too)

I would get a new trainer if they can’t teach you to squat.

Correction: it’s not “my” trainer, I’m not coached, apologies. It’s one of the guys who checks that people don’t kill themselves in weight room, he’s certified to coach and does PTing to a couple guys, but I’m not one of them.
That’s why I’m asking here

There is nothing wrong with leaning in a low bar squat. A low bar squat requires a lean.

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I know the mechanics of the low bar squat, my issue is that there’s A LOT of lean required that makes it very hard to keep a neutral spine.
I usually feel like my upper back is not tight enough, which in turn makes the lower back roll down when I reach parallel - the infamous butt wink I guess, I know it’s nothing as important as people make it to be but I can feel I’m not stable as I should be when back squatting.
I know it’s not an upper back mobility problem or weakness because my front squats are heavier than back squats and give me no issue. There’s something wrong in the way I setup and/or move.
In all of this, I’ve never had back pain from squats (some soreness a couple times, at best), but at the same time I just want to be able to do Widowmakers sets knowing that I’m not butchering my lower back.

Widowmakers shouldn’t even be part of the conversation until you get your squat issues ironed out.

I have about 4 months before Widowmakers are required, asking now so I can fix the squat ahead of time. I could have someone record both my front and back squats

Have you ever read Starting Strength? The second chapter is information overload on squat mechanics including the differences in squatting angles due to differences in limb length.

lower your training max to where you can comfortably get 20 reps with 75% of your training max. That might mean that you use a 70-75-80% training max. I promise that with a lower TM, your dick will not fall off. If your goal is to perform a widowmaker set, find what weight you can do that at NOW, and set your TM accordingly.

To make this even simpler - let’s say your 5RM in the squat is 300.

300 X 5 X .0333 + 300 = 350 (estimated 1RM)

That means that at a TM of 300, you should be able to do 20 reps with 225 (75% of TM). If you can’t, lower your TM until you’re comfortable with that number for 20 reps.

Make sense?

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I think you will be fine.

I’ve read the original book (I think the very first version) and use it as my to go for technique related stuff. Also watched Rip’s videos and read his articles. He addressed the thing about long femur a few times, basically it’s a matter of leaning with the torso so that you’re keeping the bar midfoot.
I do it, it just doesn’t feel right. I feel like I’m not tight enough in the upper back and chest area, sometimes i feel like tingling radiating from my elbows and wrists, wrists might hurt too - I’m not sure if it’s due to poor setup or because I do heavy front squats before low bar squats.

I haven’t tested a TM for back squats right now, I’m already using very light weights - I can do 20 reps with the weights I’ve been using recently, been focusing only on nailing technique. What I don’t know is if I can do them safely, I’ve always done them in BBS or BBB setup and I’ve never done sets of 20 at all.
I’ve seen you recommended an 80% TM for Widowmakers in the other thread - that would be, specifically for the Widowmaker numbers, correct?

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at your ability to get stronger using a much lower TM. What I posted in the other thread I think I meant to post here for you.