T Nation

Squat Confession

So ive come to realise that my squats arent what i thought they were.

I’m not getting low enough. i dont think i was even getting to parrallel half the time. this sucks for alot of reasons, one i’ve looked like a dickhead when squatting, two i havent goten out of the exercise what i was supposed to.

i think one of the reasons im not getting down low enough is that i am very tight through the glutes, a physio told me when i went to see him about lower back pain.

so ive started doing bodyweight squats at home of a night every night to get my body used to the movement and going very low without overloading myself, but i have to hold onto the couch to stop myself from falling over.

Has anyone got any tips besides what i am already doing to help me get my squat to below parallel and to stop me from over balancing, because while its not so bad at home, if i do it at the gym with a bar and some plates its dangerous and i might hurt someone.

Appreciate your help

stretch ur glutes and hip flexors everyday. everyday. everyday. i had the same problem when i started out.


Take a look at your stance as well. To get really low (hams on calves just enough to take weight off knees), I have to take a fairly narrow stance and let my toes point out about 30 degrees.

Try this: get down in a full squat as low as you can, then rock back and forth from your toes to your heels. Allow your feet to move however they want when you do this, and they’ll align themselves to your optimal stance. Now just stand up and take a mental picture.

Hey guys, thanks for the feed back so quickly, im going to start working on this today.

ive printed out that article and im on my way to the bathroom, im at work, to do that 1 minute hold, ill do it a few times a day.

Thanks again for your help, I appreciate it.

no worries. im still doing stuff from that article. i can hit an inch below parallel easily now but i want to go lower!

I just went and did my minute and learnt alot of things.

  1. my balance is terrible
  2. if i want to breathe while squatting i really have to lose this gut
  3. it was a good idea to buy new pants last weekend as my old ones would not have coped with that
  4. i need new shirts

comedy aside i was hanging on for dear life and still only just able to wriggle my toes, how hard were you hanging on to begin with, and also how long have you been working at this for?

2 months maybe. ever since i posted squat form vids on here.

i was holding on to my chest of drawers in my room and they were coming towards me. thats how much weight they where supporting.

Cool, good to know im in good company then. Thanks for your help.

Nice article,bananas…
Seems to have some similar principles/observations to a brief book I read on ‘The Alexander Technique’.
I would recommend at least a little study on this technique to anyone,it has a lot of principles which can be carried over into any exercise and in everyday life,for improving posture,mobility and bodily awareness.

This might seem like a stupid or irrelevant question,but bear with me-
What do you wear on your feet while weight training,particularly when doing squats/deadlifts/good mornings?
It might seem trivial or even obvious to some,but wearing flat-soled shoes really is the quickest and simplest way I improved my squat depth and that of other gym users/clients.

I like Hi-top Converse (or ‘Chucks’) and bought them after reading they are a favourite among lifters because your feet are flat on the floor,as nature intended,so you can push your heels into the floor easier and get deeper as you are closer to the ground.
(The hi-top ones also give you some ankle support.)

I used to wear regular trainers (whatever ones looked good)the prob with them,as with most,is that they have a raised heel (As I am fairly knowledgable about anatomy & physiology,I slapped myself for making this schoolboy error) so your foot is plantarflexed,you are effectively on the ball of your foot,making it more difficult to press your heels into the floor.

I even see some people in the gym doing squats/deadlifts etc. with running shoes!
This is even worse!
If you are lifting with a pair of asics or whatever,you have to realise that footwear company has spent a fortune on designing those shoes to move your feet FORWARD as fast and efficiently as possible.

So if you use them for most weight training,thats what they do-they try to move your feet forward-I see people wobbling in them all the time.
At best,you will struggle to lift any serious weight and expend unnecessary energy.
At worst,you will fall forward,put strain on your ankles,look stupid,or even worse injure yourself.

I would also recommend squatting down with a bench behind you or two steps stacked high to just parallel (your target height)
Squat down slowly until your bum touches it,then fire up.
Then progress to just using one step that goes to about half that height,if you want to do deeper squats in the future.
Do this as part of your warm-up sets with a lighter weight,or even with just an olympic bar.
This technique helps you to feel your glutes engaging,and also gives you a bit of a crutch as you know you can sit down and won’t fall over-you can also go real slow or add more weight confidently.

Hope I didn’t ramble on there…

Hope this helps…good luck!

g star, thanks for the awesome post. yes i am a douche who wears his assics running shoes to the gym, i had briefly considered the gel and cussioning in them was causing instability for my ankles when i did squats and deads but i thought seesn as i asked the guy in the shop about the shoes and specificaly said i wanted them to wear at the gym where i would be lifting weights as well as for other activities he would not sell me something that would impeed my progress. gues that makes me a double douche, great i can clean them out front and back at the same time.

Really appreciate the time you took to write the info down for me, i will head out and get some dunlop voleys, similar to chucks, in the very near future.

Get yourself some chucks my man. Not too expensive (in the US anyway!).

I think you’re doing the right thing hitting up squats at home. Try to get yourself a box to use. You don’t need to fully sit on it, but you can use it to gauge depth.

How’s the weight loss quest going? Or have you changed goals?

Other resources for you to check out:

no probs tubbynewb-
Its a really common mistake,and I suffered from wobbly/weak lifts and ankle pain for quite a while before I stumbled on this info.

Now footwear is one of the first things I bring up with any clients or gym goers (I’m a Gym Instructor/Personal Trainer)

I recommend a minimum of 3 pairs of trainers-

One pair of running shoes,if you run or jog even occasionally.Don’t assume they have to be expensive,or that the more you spend the better they are.Find out what the biomechanics of your feet are and what you need.Either go to a reputable running shop that knows what they are talking about,who will often analyse your feet to tell you what you need,or go to Runnersworld.com who have a wealth of info on self-analysis of your feet,a shoe finder where you can search exactly what you are looking for,with archived reviews and explanation of features.

One pair of Cross Trainers-again these are usually pretty cheap.Cross Trainers are multi-taskers,designed for a balance of cushioning,stability and durability-good for exercise classes,circuit training,cross training,and especially well-suited for any exercise involving body movement in different directions i.e. lunges,side lunges,reverse lunges,etc.

One pair of flat-soled shoes i.e. Converse All Stars or a similar design,as mentioned.Essential for your big lower body lifts-Dead lifts,squats,good mornings,etc.

Good luck!

honestly the weightloss has reversed itself and backed over me with depression as the driver.

im trying to get back on the straight and narrow eat right and work hard, but typing and talking is easy, when it comes to action im not so tough.

my goals right now are to get stronger and build some real muscle and to develop a regular routine of exercise.

what id like to work towards is being able to do the crossfit WOD and to have functional strength that will help me with BJJ when i hit the mat again in january next year.

realisticly i wont be ready for crossfit in january, 30 muscle ups no fucking way, but id like to be on the road to be there.

I started doing actual back squats less than two years ago. It wasn’t until the last couple of months, when I began to work with a coach that I saw I was waaaaaaay off parallel as you have just mentioned.

What was suggested and is working for me:

  1. Take video of your lift from the side, at the same level as if you were sitting in a chair watching yourself. I guarantee what you will see will surprise you if you already have an idea you’re not going deep enough.

  2. Add in some box squats. You will have to play with the box height until you find what works. I am quite tall and use a milk crate, believe it or not.

Your hip crease should be below your knee. If you do these fairly consistently for a while, it should teach you how to recognize depth. Do not fully release on the box though. In your case, the box is only being used to teach your body how deep to go.

  1. Chuck’s are great (I personally use Vans now). Do not use a running shoe. Pick something with as flat of a sole as you can find.

Good luck and it’s a pain re-training yourself how to do something correctly when it’s become habit to do it the wrong way but it can be done.

I always thought they said, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!”

But I guess in MsM’s case, it’s not true! :wink:

Have you tried “prying”. One of Coach Pavel’s techniques and I’ve trained a few Newbies using it. Check it out on the second page of this article…

Hey thanks for that link mate, im reading that article and im going to read the Dave Tate article as well.

Goblet squats.

Youtube that. Fastest way to create the mobility for serious squat depth, imo. After that, it’s just a short period of warming up with them and transfering the flexibility to front and backsquatting later in a workout.

Cheers mate i appreciate it.

I appreciate all of the suggestions that i have recieved so far.

I have been doing the prying and im determined to do this exercise properly. Im not even concerned that i will have to drop the weight heaps, because i will get back there and i will have the wheels to match.