T Nation

Squat - Biomechanics?

After reading Thib’s article, 7 toolbox exercises, I really liked the look of the Lumberjack squat. I have always had a problem with regular squats,my upper body wants to bend forward at an alarming rate…perhaps 40-45 degrees.

I thought these may be easier…no, no, no…I simply cannot get my back anywhere what looks to be like a “normal” squatting position as I descend.

If I place a 10kg plate under the heel, then presto…my form looks like it should. However, there has got to be something wrong. Flexibility ??? Mind muscle connection on the initial movements that place me in an impossible position ?

I am 6’2, 33 years, active, play a wide variety of sports,injury free, been lifting weights for years…but have never been able to squat correctly. I figure after discovering T-Nation…that I had better do something about it.

Has anyone else encountered this and solved their problem ? Or is anyone able to offer some advice ?

Thanks
Andrew

Well, without seeing you squat, it’d be hard to narrow it down to one thing. But some things to address would be ankle mobility and hip flexibility.

If your ankles don’t have enough mobility, then you can’t get your knees forward enough to get your weight over your heels. If your hip flexors are tight, then they’ll work to pull your torso forward.

To bring up your ankle mobility, get a 2x4 and place it about a foot out from a wall. Put the balls of your feet on the 2x4, and do a mini squat, trying to shoot your knees past your toes.

Make sure to keep your feet supinated (weight on the outside) to get the full effect. Sets of 10, or as many as you can handle, would do the trick. Also, do some calf stretches on the wall while you’re there.

For the hips, lunge. I like to use a slightly longer stride length to stretch the flexors. When your left foot is forward, try to relax your right glute so that you get a better stretch in the right flexors. You can also add a twist for added stretching.

Another hip stretch, can be done against a wall. Get into a deep squat with your butt/back against the wall. Put your elbows on the inside of your knees and push out. While pushing out, keep your chest out and your back as straight as possible. Take a deep breath and lower the pressure from you elbow/knee push as you breathe in, push as you exhale.

SMR would be beneficial too. Use a foam roller on your calves, peroneals, quads, IT band, TFL, hammies, glutes, etc. Pretty much your whole leg.

10 or so minutes of mobility/dynamic stretching/SMR a day should get you squatting better in no time.

Attach pictures. I have found that many males, including active males and athletes, have flexibility/mobility issues.

It’s difficult to deduce what the culprit is with poor squat mechanics because it could be tight calves, hamstrings, adductors, glute medius, TFL and ITB or hip flexors. Start statically stretching those muscles agressively and keep working on getting into proper position. Also toy around with your stance. Try altering your stance width and your toe flare.

I went to a resistance training specialization course a cpl months ago, and they said that depending on the length of femurs/torso…some people simply “fold up” better than others. He said placing a plate under ur heels “shortens” ur femurs. Another way to shorten them is to go with a wider stance with the toes out a lil more.

[quote]andrewlevell wrote:
After reading Thib’s article, 7 toolbox exercises, I really liked the look of the Lumberjack squat. I have always had a problem with regular squats,my upper body wants to bend forward at an alarming rate…perhaps 40-45 degrees.

I thought these may be easier…no, no, no…I simply cannot get my back anywhere what looks to be like a “normal” squatting position as I descend.

If I place a 10kg plate under the heel, then presto…my form looks like it should. However, there has got to be something wrong. Flexibility ??? Mind muscle connection on the initial movements that place me in an impossible position ?

I am 6’2, 33 years, active, play a wide variety of sports,injury free, been lifting weights for years…but have never been able to squat correctly. I figure after discovering T-Nation…that I had better do something about it.

Has anyone else encountered this and solved their problem ? Or is anyone able to offer some advice ?

Thanks
Andrew[/quote]

If your upperbody is going forward when you squat. It sounds like your hip flexors might be the problem. Its probably a safe bet to stretch them.

Also if your heel start coming off the ground before you go down all tghe way. You are probably tight at your achilles tendon area. Start stretching both 2 to 3 times a week. The hip flexors, you can actually get away with stretching before you start squatting even though the general consensus advise against static stretching right before lifting.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6529481301858251744&q=dan+john

this guy breaks down how to squat perfectly at one of his seminars it helped me a whole lot

I had/ have this problem and a physiotherapist told me it was hamstring flexability.

After getting my hamstrings and hips more flexable I can put a much thinner plate under my heels now.

I think some people may just be made this way. I noticed Milos Sarchev useds plates under his heels also, and he has been trainning for years. Not sure if this is because he neglects the importance of flexability, or because he is just like that.

I have to agree. I think its your Calf and shin flexibility.

[quote]EG wrote:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6529481301858251744&q=dan+john

this guy breaks down how to squat perfectly at one of his seminars it helped me a whole lot[/quote]

Second this. Dan John is a genius.

Ankle and “shin” flexibility have almost nothing to do with squatting with an upright torso, most people lack hip mobility period. You can stretch your calves until you’re blue in the face, it won’t change a thing if your damn hips are tight and your hamstrings are weak.

[quote]PHGN wrote:
Ankle and “shin” flexibility have almost nothing to do with squatting with an upright torso, most people lack hip mobility period. You can stretch your calves until you’re blue in the face, it won’t change a thing if your damn hips are tight and your hamstrings are weak.[/quote]

You’d be surprised by how ankle mobility affects your squat, especially when you get below parallel. I do agree about the hips. If your hips are tight, squatting’s going to be tough.

I would like to start by thanking everyone who took the time to reply. It surprised me that people went to so much effort in their responses…THANKS !!!

After taking your theories and knowledge and applying it to my case, I have come to the conclusion that my mobility is the culprit.

If I am 3cm away from the wall, I cannot touch my knee against it. My girlfriend who is an ex-gymnast can be 12cm away, her squat form is faultless.

Through the hips I am also “tight” and the hip flexors and hamstrings arnt so flash either.

It looks as though I have a bit of work ahead.

I have begun using some of the drills contained in “Magnificient Mobilty”.

After only two sessions I feel better when I wake, particularly in the lower back area.

The news isnt all happy though, my kness, which didnt hurt…now do. I am assuming that the changes in my mobility have already begun occuring and some new or misalignment due to the new movement patterns are imposing some force on the knee. Ie I have loosened some areas whilst others have remained “tight”, (in their previous state).

I will keep working on the mobility, hopefully the slight knee pain will subside with a couple more sessions.

Otherwise, I may have to go back to leg pressing and the dream of a squat will remain…a dream. No-one wants bad knees.

Andrew

[quote]EG wrote:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6529481301858251744&q=dan+john

this guy breaks down how to squat perfectly at one of his seminars it helped me a whole lot[/quote]

WOW! I can’t believe I sat though that whole thing. I started watching the first few minutes not expecting it to be so interesting and informative.

Before I knew it, the video was done. This Dan John really seems to know his stuff.

Thanks for the link, this was a great video!