T Nation

Squat and Dead Critiques


Vids should be right side up and clipped as soon as youtube takes the modifications I made.

Just anything you see as a weakness whether it be bar speed, muscular, or form or whatever.
Thanks in advance. I really appreciate having knowledgeable people on this site for this kind of thing.

Squat 405xmiss

deadlift 455

deadlift 515


Looks like your hips started higher on the 515 DL than they did for the 455. If you are more consistent with your setup you will eventualy “find” your form. Rippetoe’s coaching points on the setup are really good for finding the ideal hip height, knee angle, back angle etc


nice lifts dude.

The squat looks pretty good. My two pieces of advice would be to try and be a little bit faster into the hole, so you can be faster out of it, and to maybe let the knees track forward a bit more. They are already coming forward quite a bit, but I feel like, as you come out of the hole, your shins drift backward a bit and you are in a kind of strange, mechanically disadvantaged position where your weight is just too far back for you to grind through. Watch the fail a few times with that in mind, and maybe you’ll see what I mean. I think working on your ankle flexibility, and forcing your knees and hips a little more forward with a better rebound might help.

With your deadlift - nice work on the 515. As the previous poster said, your hips are a little higher on the 515, but I would say that your hips are just too high in general. You are using a lit of back on them, and not enough legs/hips. The reason the lockout is so tough is because you are using so much back that you lose tension in your hamstrings, and then the lockout is “straighten out your spine” rather than “squeeze your butt” haha. But obviously you have a pretty strong pull, so using the back isn’t a bas thing… I think you just need to work on keeping your hips lower at the start. Just using your quads a bit more, to move the weight a couple inches, might put you in a much more mechanically advantageous position to lock out heavy weight.

Advice: I think you need to add in a good amount of front squatting and deficit deadlifting. Both these movements will help build up your quads and work on your mobility. You can get in the habit of starting with your hips a little lower from the deficit deads, get in the habit of keeping your hips/knees more forward on the squat, and build up your leg strength to be more in balance with your back.


Here’s what I was thinking of doing for the next 3 weeks to help with some of this stuff:

Thoughts for 3-week accumulation block after maxes:

ankle mobility
aggression and speed in the hole on the squat
niggle prevention (elbows, wrist, posterior hip capsule, peroneals)

ME work for 3-5RM
RE for 50-100 total reps per exercise

goals for accumulation block:
-get my joints healthy, strong, sturdy, and ready for the heavy barbell work after the block
-increase conditionings
-lose fat 5lbs
-get quads stronger
-get triceps stronger

50% 3x3 speed bp
60% 6x3 bp
landmine presses w/ bands in kneeling split stance
assisted chins
face pull
arm ss

me lower (atg front squat, deadlift no belt w/ wl shoes, hip width stance parallel free squat)
bb split squat
1L rdl
abs ss w/ back ext
lower leg work for prehab (back, sides, and front)

me bench (cgbp, paused 2-board, paused 3-board)
1arm neutral grip low touch db bench
db row
landmine lat delt in kneeling split stance
arm ss

50% 3x2 speed squat (w/ box)
60% 8x3 free squat
speed deads
walking db lunges
back ext w/ bands
one arm carry


The internet ate 2 posts about the same thing already maybe 3rd’s the charm.

I see what you mean with the squat. When I remember doing the squat that’s about the same time my quads gave out.

What do you think about doing beltless deads in WL shoes for a more upright back and more quad drive as assistance?

I’ll definitely be doing more front squats after this block I posted. Do you prefer atg or just parallel with these?


I think atg for front squats is better. Doing them nice and deep will help with mobility, and you can work on going fast into the bottom and really rocketing out of the hole - I always find the difference between making and missing a heavy front squat is speed into/out of the hole. So in addition to forcing your to use more quads, and getting a nice stretch in your hips and achilles, it’ll help you with the aggression into the bottom.

I think the belt-less deads with weightlifting shoes is an interesting idea. Personally, I would stop using the belt in training if I were you. Obviously, your back is a strong point for you. I think if you stop using your belt for a while, it will force you to rely on your legs more. It might be annoying not to be able to move as much weight for a while, but then when you throw the belt on to max out, it will add some bonus pounds, instead of being a crutch that allows you to always put the emphasis on your strength (back), rather than force you to use your legs.

That being said… if I were you, I would consider one of two options. You can do deficit deads, which would keep your form relatively the same but emphasize the quads a little bit more, and help you get used to starting with your hips lower, while still using relatively heavy weight. OR, i would think about throwing on the oly shoes and doing a clean deadlift - hips nice and low, emphasis on the quads, and keeping that back flat as a pancake. You probably won’t be able to use nearly as much weight as you want for a while, but if you really work at these for a good long while, I think they could monumentally increase your back and quad strength.

If you could increase your clean deadlift so that it was significantly closer to your 1rm dead, imagine 1) how much more power you would have to break the weight from the floor and 2) how much more weight you could move once you throw the belt on and allow your back to round again.

Both will work on your specific problems really well. Personally, I think the clean deads are a better choice. They are so differrent from your current style, that I think if you were to improve them significantly your regular dead would improve a lot. but it’s kind of a question of how much energy you are willing to put into a non-essential powerlifting movement haha. I think the clean deads would better improve your overall athleticism and deadlift form as well as strength, but if you would rather just work your current form with slight tweaks then the deficit deads will do the job.

And just for funsies, a heavy clean AND deficit deadlift


You’ve sold me on the clean deads. So basically try to squat the weight up, except now the bar is in my hands?
I think this could work well with conjugate method since I don’t need or want assistance that’s almost identical to my main lifts. I’ll be practicing my regular deadlift form with light speed work every week anyway.

And I was dinking around with some bw squats while doing some mob work and I found I kind of did the pulling the knees back even with just bw. Just not quite as pronounced But when I pushed my knees not just out but forward too it didn’t happen and I felt ‘bouncier’. Especially if I imagined forcing my femur into my tibia. Anyway I’ll try adding that cue next time I squat with weight.

I think I get these odd problems because of how long I was doing the westside ‘sit back back back spread the floor’ kind of squat and never did quad work. It may very well be a year or so of dedicated work to undoing the strength imbalance caused my this.


Exactly the same story for me on the squat. I sat back and used my PC for so long to avoid being “quad dominant,” not realizing that my quads were super weak and I was totally PC dominant haha. It’s weird to force your knees/hips forward when you’re used to sitting back, but it feels awesome when you get the hang of it. Just watch a million oly lifters squat, seeing them do it helps you when you try to imitate it, i swear. Seeing over and over helps you learn.

As for the clean deads, I’m glad you’re gonna mess with them, I think they’re better long-term to work on your weaknesses. It’s not exactly “squatting the weight up,” I wouldn’t think of it that way cause that’s gonna screw you up. I’m no oly coach, so again I would suggest checking out some olympic lifters doing deadlifts… Clarance, the vid I put in, is a really strong kid with great form so check him out, learn what you can, emulate. Basically, the clean dead uses the same muscles as your normal dead. Difference is gonna be that you’ll want to really push your knees forward at the start, very different from the “vertical shins” cue you hear in powerlifting, and keep your back flat. Especially with your style dead, you might have to use some pretty light weight in order to keep the back flat. Breaking the weight from the floor, the emphasis should really be on your quads until about mid shin, then you start to shift your knees back , really use your lats to keep the bar tight to your body, and let your back/PC take over to finish the lift. The greater emphasis on quads at the start will be good for you, and then forcing your to keep your back flat so that you can better use your butt/hamstring AND increase the weight at which your back NEEDS to round should be good too.

If you check out that video, you can see he’s definitely not “squatting the weight up.” He pushes his knees back and uses a lot of back/PC as well as quads.

Here’s another good video, you can see how far out he pushes his knees at the start, as well as how he shifts his knees back and sweeps the bar into the hip. This is a clean pull, however, so it’s a little different at the top.

You might even want to mess with doing a hook grip, if you’re starting with lighter weight for a while. Personally, I like hook gripping a lot - it lets your shoulders hang in a different, slightly better position with heavy weights that I like - and I’m gonna start switching all my deads over to hook grip this summer I believe. maybe you’ll hate it haha, but it could be worth a shot. Good luck with the learning and experimentation my friend


Clean Deads Heavy Effort

I left a rep or two in the tank because I wanted to hone in on form and not end up making bad habits. My hands were just a little wider out like I would if I were doing a power clean and my feet in a slightly wider stance and mostly just getting my hips down lower and forcing my knees forward.

Is this kind of what you mean?


Yeah I would say those look great from what I can tell. Back looks really good, completely different from your normal form. I think it will be good to work both techniques. Hips are nice and low, but you definitely didn’t squat the weight up. Nice work pushing the knees forward too.

Just out of curiosity, how heavy was that, and how did they feel? You like them?


That was just 315. Yet it was still challenging. Extrapolated to a max it’s only 355. But I can see quickly getting to higher weights on these. I guess that isn’t too terrible considering the shoes put me at a 1in deficit, I wasn’t using a belt, and it’s a brand new exercise to me.

They feel very different. With my regular form, I mostly feel it in the teardrop of my quad, lower hamstring, and thoracic and upper back. With these it was my entire quad musculature, lower back, and hips.

I think I like them. I feel like they may even have carry over to my squat.


Nice! it’s good that that is where you feel them, you bring those muscle groups up and I can’t imagine your regular deadlift not improving significantly. I’m sure you will improve very quickly, and it will have a lot of carryover. Keep at it buddy.


[quote]Fletch1986 wrote:
Clean Deads Heavy Effort

I left a rep or two in the tank because I wanted to hone in on form and not end up making bad habits. My hands were just a little wider out like I would if I were doing a power clean and my feet in a slightly wider stance and mostly just getting my hips down lower and forcing my knees forward.

Is this kind of what you mean?[/quote]

OP your form on these deads is 100x better than your first two vids. Back looks nice a tight.
Also may need a new spotter for squats :slight_smile: