T Nation

Sore Hams on Squats


When I squat heavy I find my hams and glutes are always sore to the point it's difficult to squat down to say, pick up an object...for the 2nd and 3rd day after the workout, but also...my quads never get sore which I though was the muscle I was hitting the hardest. Would this mean my hams/ glutes are a weak point and I should be hitting them more? or is my squat form to blame?



hey man i got the same problem. the next couple days i always gotta grunt when i bend down and it hurts like hell. i just started doin my first squats in over 4 years tho just a couple weeks ago


Well, at least you know you are working the posterior chain...

Are you leaning forward? If the form is good... then great.


If you squat wide, with the bar fairly low on your back, powerlifter style, they will hit your posterior chain more than your quads.

You can keep the bar a little higher on your back/shoulders and bring your stance in a little to hit your quads more, or just do front squats, lunges or hack squats instead.

I had the same problem and my quads were noticeably underdeveloped.


I was thinking that I started doing ATG squats about 8 months ago and had to take 50 Lbs. off the bar to go deep but maybe I should do parallel or box squats with more weight sometimes to hit the quads.



I used to have the same problem and there are two things that fixed it for me. the first thing that worked was placeing a ten pound plate under each heal; however this ended up straining my knees. the thing that never fails for making my quads sore is simply making sure I sit back as a descend. you've probably heard it before but its really important to begin the negative portion by bending your knees, not by sticking you but out and leaning forward.


In one of his articles, CT discusses the benefits of ATG over parallel. He convinced me, so I was doing ATG with ever increasing weight, but then a Sports Doctor I went to see to discuss an ongoing Hammy and clicking knee problem said go to parallel only as ATG is bad for the knees.... Sigh. Makes it hard to know right from left (let alone right from wrong!). :-/

Have you tried wide stance (SUMO-style squats, to whatever depth; or deadlifts? I can feel a difference in my back (especially), knees and hams when I change the stance. Maybe worth a shot?

Your suggestion of box squats is good too - and changing the amount of time you sit-down is also a good twist, as you can completely eliminate elastic energy if you wait for a few seconds. It makes it go from hard to bloody hard. :slight_smile:



Migman, I'm pretty sure your hams and glutes are supposed to be sore, unless I've been doing these wrong for the last 30 years...


Well I guess if it's normal for the glutes and hams to be sore and not the quads then I won't worry about it. I realize too that I should'nt guage progress on pain.
I'm still learning :slight_smile:


Migman, enjoy the soreness, its your body's way to tell you that you are gettin' bigger. You will find that your jeans will be getting tighter in the ass as your glutes and hams are growing. Not a bad problem to have. I usually don't get a lot of feedback on my physique because I dress in oversize clothing a lot, but I have had women comment on my butt !!!

They like the big muscular ass thing for some reason..... Squats will never let you down. Not only do they do wonderfull things for your posterior chain, but your whole body will get benefits, also. You'll see.


Try front squats or zercher squats. Or place your heels on a board or a couple of plates while doing back squats.

ATG is not going to be hard on the knees if you don't have pre-existing knee problems. The whole "don't go past parallel" mantra is completely unsupported and was borne out of the powerlifting circuit - reaching parallel meaning you'd completed the lift.

Think about it...you wouldn't do partial ROM on any other exercise...why on squats?

These are just my thoughts, though.



The sports doctor is wrong. It's much more likely an issue of flexibility or weakness of the VMO. Try doing Peterson step-ups or banded terminal knee extensions plus paying close attention to the subtle nuances of stretching for about a month and seeing if the clicking doesn't go away.



You should check out Westside Barbell and Louis Simmons. There are some very good articles on squatting. One interesting study on some world class squatters showed a glute/ham to quadricep ratio was around 60/40. 60 being the glute/hams. Add glute/ham raises to your routine, you'll be amazed at the results. Also if you're doing correct deadlifts, you should really feel a huge pull on your hams the first 6-10 inches off the floor.


Very interesting and it makes alot of sense. As for the glute/ham raises...I workout at home and don't have the luxury of such a devise..I supstitute GM's and stiff leg DL's...Hopefully in the future I can afford one..


Yes you have nothing to worry about. Your hams and glutes are the main source of power that causes your leg bone to bend at the hip socket. so the the reason to squat is to develope those under developed hams that nature has given us for, no reason.

Most body builders of today use the squat for reasons other than strength training but for more cosmetic appearance ideas which is fine but not what the movement was derived from. The squat is the most versatile exercise we can do as human beings and the variations are endless. Bottom line is it's good that you are even doing them in your training, and your hamstrings will slowly get stronger to at point you will have to take maximal loads and supplemantal work just to stimulate them.


I also workout in my garage. I took the bench from my Soloflex (the only piece I use) and the adjustable padded part that holds my legs down on my lat pull down, I put those together to hold my ankles. I lay on the bench and secure my ankles, then do the raises. I can only go down to about 45 degrees for 3 sets of 8. They're killer! I also love gm and straight leg dl's, good work!


"you've probably heard it before but its really important to begin the negative portion by bending your knees, not by sticking you but out and leaning forward."

ive always actually heard the opposite, dont know why


After reading some of these responses I would suggest going to a good powerlifting website, elite fitness is a good one. Read up on it, look at some pictures. My knees are shot from football, but squats are one of my true loves. Somehow the myths about squats need to be squashed! I started out like that, badmouthing squats, until I really learned how to correctly.

My main instructions would be, sit back - not down. You do push your butt out while keeping your knees from going out in front of your toes. They will a little but trying keeps good form. Keep the bar low on your traps and keep your chin pointing as high as possible the whole time. Your first move from the bottom should be your head looking up, drive your traps into the bar, your butt should follow.


I think my form is pretty good on squats except i can't get the bar too low on my traps..i get sharp shoulder pain if I put my arms too far back.




I think you will find that you are finally doing squats correctly in a Powerlifting style. When I first learned how to squat correctly (during a Westside seminar) my hams and glutes were extra sore after workouts for the first few months until they caught up. I couldn't do a single Glute Ham raise during that seminar so it truly showed that my posterior chain was WEAK!