Newbie Squat With Diagrams

Something awful has been bothering me as of late, and today I was compelled to bring what it is that agitates me so to these forums. This takes so much of my thoughts that my regular life suffers. For example, today as I was driving home from 24 Hour Fitness I flipped on the radio and heard Christina Aguilera’s new song “Carwash” playing. I thought for a while and then realized that 30 seconds have passed and I was still listening. Promptly changing the station, I began to formulate this very post in my head.

Anyways, here’s my problem: I can’t squat very good. Can’t squat good either. Or fair, for that matter.

Today, after failing to maintain form even with the 25’s on each side of the barbell, I consulted a 24Fitness trainer on how to fix my problems. He informed me that some of my issues are flexibility and the “core”, and instructed me to 1/4 squat with a closer stance. However, having been reading up on things here, I know that his very safe method is not accepted by all of you. I, myself, am neither female, nor have I had a set of twin babies jump out of my uterus several months ago, and training my legs for the purpose of propelling a baby-stroller along my suburban neighborhood while chatting about the latest Cosmopolitan issues with a female married neighbor of mine whose bachelorette party I blew several male strippers at, (AHEM, cough cough) is not my goal. BUT, my goal IS, however, to one day squat 2 TIMES my body weight. (I am now 150).(5’7)

So, after the instructions, I just gave up on squats for the day and went over to the leg press. Some sets later, I crawl away from the machine and hope that it somehow compensated for all that I could have done. With tail between legs I get into car and crank up the ole’ Carwash. (Of course then I snap out of my defeat and de-crank it, and prepare to write this post:

Honestly you just have to squat a lot during your everyday life. I’ve always had long limbs, but my thighs are abnormally long (compared to the rest of my body and calves). I found squatting very difficult when I first started. As I brought my spinal erectors up to par (they need to be strong to keep the bar in the groove) squatting became easier. But I was never comfortable going really low without relying on the stretch reflex out of hole. But now I’ve worked in a chinese restaurant for 5 months and I can squat ridiculously low. If you squat everyday it will become easier. Don’t buy that bullshit about flexibility. My ankle flexibility is probably not any better than yours. Static stretching doesn’t have a lot of carryover to dynamic movement. When I did martial arts I could kick above my head wasn’t able to touch my toes lying on the ground. Some last words of advice… squat using your ass and your hammies, not the quads. Your patella tendon will thank you.

First of all I would find out if someone who knows how to squat lives in your area to help you out. I have yet to meet a trainer at 24 Hour that has actual under the bar knowledge. I have just heard them preaching crap they read in some book somewhere.

Here is a great site for squat form. The girl who put it together shows near perfect high bar olympic squat form IMHO.

The best suggestion I could give is to find a powerlifting gym or hardcore gym in your area to go to. Don’t be intimidated because you aren’t lifting as much weight as the guys working out there. You will find some of the nicest people you could meet there. You will not only learn form but you will be given a perspective on what real weight is. You will have a hard time finding that at the fitness centers.

Ahh thanks, man I’m trying to put those diagrams up here, but they take so long that it will probably wont be finished until tomorrow! In them I will explain in detail what the problems are, and yeah the spinal erectors is what Im having a hard time with I guess, but I’ll show you later exactly!

One other thing is you will have a hard time coaching yourself to good form. You pretty much need someone who knows what they are looking at coaching you through it. If you are looking in the mirror trying to see your form, your form is already messed up. A mirror is a horrible thing to have in front of a power cage or squat rack.

Good luck.

Well, thank all of you very much, the girl-site is really good. Hmm I guess I can’t put any pictures up for some reason, so that kind of sucks, but you dont really need them to imagine how bad I currently am.

So what I wanted to show in the pictures was that in my squat I try to
*push with the heels
*arch my back
*keep my knees from going past my toes
*keep my body going more vertical than horizontally inclined, (such as when doing a Goodmorning).

but instead here’s what happens:

As I try to do those three things, my butt goes backwards/out because I try to keep my knees from going forward past the toes, and my upper body leans forward to compensate for that. When I come up from parallel it is really hard to keep my spine straight and I wobble, while my quads do all the work in getting me back into standing position.

That basically sums it up. Now, the only way I could get good form was without a bar and with my arms balancing me. If I try it with the bar my body wants to fall backwards. I read here that this is because people don’t have the hamstring or glute strenght to keep upright, but I didn’t think that was the case with me. But now, I really dont care if I have to do a year of squatting with a broomstick in order to do it correctly one day.

So if my hams and glutes need work or if there is a chain of mini exercises to train a squat, please inform me of those as well. And thank you for all the responses I did get so far!

Ok, tried the diagram again, well see what happens.

I wouldn’t hurt you to do them at home, with a broomstick. Technique is by far the hardest part of the squat. You’ll notice once you get the hang of it, the weight will go up rather easily…pending you bust your a$$!

Good luck


I have had the same problem. I havnt fixed it completely as of yet but have begun box squats because of articles i have read that state it teaches proper form. It takes a little getting used too but i do believe my form is improving and my legs hurt alot more :wink: For some reason i also find reviewing and practice tightening the form muscles between sets help, from a memory standpoint. shrugs But i am just a newb.

I’m assuming you are not doing a powerlifting style squat or you would’ve placed your post in the Strength Sports section. Since you’re probably doing a high bar squat with a more narrow stance your quads will take a beating. However, you are correct to assume that the glutes and hams will play a role. Do some work to bring up your posterior chain.

A couple ideas:

  1. Try box squatting just below parallel. It’ll definately bring the posterior chain into the movement and teach you to sit back.

  2. When you come out of the hole drive your head back into the bar FIRST. If you drive with your legs first your hips will rise and you will be placed into a position similar to a good morning. Drive with your head and you’ll come up standing tall.

  3. Do some good mornings. In the event that you do fail to drive back with your head you’ll be better able to bring yourself upright.

Hope that helps.

Try Box squatting (with LOW weights first). It’ll teach you how to sit back and use your posterior-chain. There is an article by Dave Tate on it.

Kinetix, right on I’ll try that as soon as I get into the 24Hr at night when nobodys there and will put up a “box” using some of those weights that nobody racks.

Beatnik, good luck to u and me


Box squats aren’t just something you do when nobody is around. If you plan them into your routine (of course you always make a plan before you go to the gym right?) then you do them. It’s that simple.

I’d also advise stacking aerobics steps instead of stacking weights. It’s easier to do and probably more stable (the weights might slip).