T Nation

Squat & Bench Form Check

This is around 90%. I figure that’s a good gauge for judgement. However, if necessary, I have a 5 rep set too at around 75%.

Around 90% for 1 rep

doesn’t look to bad to me, mate. Couple of little things:

-Take the fucking baseball cap off in the gym. C’mon dude.

-Don’t lift your head off the bench. You’re actually stronger if you press your head back into the bench when you push. I forget what the mechanism is, exactly, but I think it’s called the tonic neck reflex or something like that. So yeah - head on bench.

-I also think you might benefit from a bit more back arch and leg drive on your press but that’s quite an individual thing so play around with it.

And that rep looked way too easy for 90% on your bench! Go heavier next time! Haha

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I have a shaved head and I’m a pretty sweaty guy. So all the sweat from my head doesn’t get soaked up by hair. If I don’t wear a hat then I’m constantly dealing with sweat in my eyes in the middle of a lift.

I find lifting my head up helps me bring the weight further down my chest and takes the pain of shoulders. I also feel like it gives me more power. Is this just in my head?

Any suggestions on how I can push for more back arch? I realize it doesn’t look like a whole lot but I really am trying to arch as hard as I can.

I was just busting your balls a little about the hat. Don’t worry about it.

Well if the head off the bench thing makes the lift feel better then it’s cool. I googled the tonic neck reflex thing to check I wasn’t making it up and it really is a thing, but if the way you’re doing it is working fine then there’s no reason to change. I would be wary of sticking your neck into cervical extension when you’re exercising but whatevs.

Yeah I think the back arch thing is just about setting up a little differently. Watch the “so you think you can bench” series on Elitefts. Those will explain it better than I ever could. It’s worth pointing out that some very strong benchers don’t use much arch and/or leg drive at all so you might not find it’s for you. It’s worth playing around with though

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Bench looks fine. Definitely check out the efs video, but that’s simply because it’ll help improve what’s already pretty decent.

Squat is OK, but there’s a couple of things I’d suggest trying:

  • sit down a bit more than back. Squeeze your glutes after you’ve walked out and keep that squeeze as you descend. Focus on pushing your knees out.

  • try setting your torso angle before you descend. If that means you lean a bunch, that’s fine. It just makes the bar travel in a straighter line. Play around.

I’ve actually heard the glute cue for deadlifts too. I can squeeze my glutes before a deadlift or squat but I’m unable keep that contraction as I move into hip flexion. Am I misunderstanding something or is it a lack of muscle awareness or what? Also, should I be pushing my knees out with force or (as I do) pointing my toes outwards so my knees track over?

Is that to say, start the squat from a hip flexion stage instead of fulling extending at the top?

I actually used to set up as that video said but I find myself far less stable without my heels on the ground. Perhaps I’ll blend the two and start by bridging and then finding the spot my heels can touch instead of my toes. I’ve also heard people talk about using a roller underneath your back while you bench. Any ideas?


IMO it’s normal to initially feel unable to keep the contraction as your hips flex. I just kept trying and after a few weeks it got easier to do. Doing GHRs before squatting and squeezing your glutes hard at the top helps me too.

I mean at the top set your torso at a bit more of an angle. Not a big one, just lean forward a tad. If you’re squeezing your glutes it just feels like you’re moving your shoulders forward a bit. Keep your chest up and neck packed by driving your head back into the bar.

Then just push your knees out hard and you’ll descend. I’m a fan of toes out, but I don’t think it’s essential to keeping your knees pushing out.

To me it looks like you are overextending your lower back quite a bit while squatting.

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if it feels better with the heels on the ground then just keep going the way you’re going. It takes a little while to get it feeling solid so keep playing with it.

If I tried the roller under my back when benching I would literally snap in half!

Haha, I tried a GHR using a bosu ball and the bottom of the cage to hold my heels down. I was able to move about 10-15 degrees for about 4 reps, obviously it’s a weak point. Maybe that’s why I struggle so much with lumbar extension during my deadlift.

I still don’t understand the concept. Is it supposed to be akin to something like a contracted eccentric portion of a bicep curl? I literally don’t understand how it works. I thought squeezing your glutes was how you put your hips into extension. Any kind of cues you got?

You know, I thought I saw that too but I think it’s just lighting. Lumbar flexion is a constant problem for me, I can’t over extend if I wanted to…I wish I could, be nice to have that problem for a while.

Would it be possible to film another take without the lightning? Even after considering the lightning, it still looks to me that you dip your lower back way back when you start ‘sitting back’ into the squat.

I don’t know how good they are but:

  • start it as a back extension (according to Jim Wendler and I find he is rarely wrong)

  • once your body is horizontal push your toes hard into the plate/wall. I honestly can’t think of what my heels do.

  • as you do this let your knees come down as your torso rises

  • keep flexing your knees until your torso is vertical