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Squat Critique Plus Programing Question


#1

Hey guys. I posted this video in the powerlifting forum back in march. The main things I got from them was spread my legs out more, spread my knees, sit back WAY more. However, I really want to get better at more of an olympic style squat. I feel like it'd help me more with my athletic endeavors (jumping higher and running faster). From watching this video, how would I get better at squatting? I really want to get lower in my squat, while at the same time get stronger.

Also, how often should/could I max at the olympic squat? Should I just stay within 75%-85% for a while and just max when I feel really good?


#2

Hey man that's a pretty good olympic squat. Just get some Olympic shoes and that ass-to-grass position will be much more comfortable. I think you are right that an Olympic-style squat would be better for a better vertical, faster sprinting, etc etc.

Just some things to keep in mind, not that you necessarily need help on any of them:

  • Chest up
  • Relaxed elbows
  • Bar high on the traps
  • Squat down, not back (break at the knees AND hips simultaneously)
  • Push knees out
  • Stance, somewhere around shoulder-width. Whatever's comfortable
  • Work on that hip mobility!

Oh, and fuck lunges. :stuck_out_tongue:

ANd that broski behind your hang cleaning could use some work as well!


#3

Your form generally seems reasonable. What is it that's stopping you from dropping down a few inches further below parallel? (stiff ankles??)


#4

Yeah. I think since I've always been taught to sit back in my squat, plus I play a lot of basketball, my calves/ankles aren't very flexible. Also, I had ACL reconstruction a few years ago so going deep SOMETIMES hurts my knee. Any tips?


#5

Thanks for the tips PB Andy. Just out of curiousity, why don't you like lunges?


#6

Do you do front squats? When I do them (and I mean in the racked position) I find that I sit in a much more upright position; getting down into 'the hole' (without sacrificing form) is much easier. But it does take some work before you're able to rack the weight on the shoulders and squat deep with the elbows held up (with the weight still held by your shoulders, and not your arms) - however on the flipside, although gaining the flexibility to squat deep with a barbell racked across your shoulders is quite difficult, it does (it being the ability to squat deep with the barbell resting entirely on your shoulder muscles) - once mastered - act as an indicator that you're squatting in fairly upright position. I need to learn to use the full-stop


#7

I just never felt they did anything for me... strength gains never correlated to a heavier squat, I think the injury prevention is overblown, as well as the muscle imbalances between the legs. I think it can be useful for those who do have muscle imbalances, i.e., can't activate certain smaller muscles in the leg when they do a squat, but I feel I can squat using my quads, adductors, glutes, and hams just fine. So I put my focus to more squats, zero lunges.

Also I forgot to answer your question about how to program the squats. There is multiple ways of going about this, but if you really want a big squat for better performance, do the squat often, like 3x a week. What I've been doing is this:

TUES
Front squat, 70% x 3 reps x 10 sets
Back squat, 70% x 3 reps x 3 sets

THURS
Back squat, 70% x 3 reps x 10 sets
Front squat, 70% x 3 reps x 3 sets

SAT
Back squat - heavy single, or max if you are feeling good.

-- And then every week for Tues/Thurs, do 75%, then next week, 80%. And alternate maxing out on Front or Back Squats every week. This should get you a bigger squat very fast.


#8

Thanks again! How long should I do this program? Should I do any accessory stuff? Should I work out my upper body too?


#9

You can do that all the way up to 85%, that 85% is going to be hard, so you might need to tailor back the second squat exercise... i.e.:

TUES
fs: 85%x3x10
bs: 78%x3x4

THURS
bs: 85%x3x10
fs: 75%x3x4

I don't believe in maxing out in the squat more than once a week. Maxing out on the c&j and snatch is fine, but I remember reading that German coaches said that maxing out too often on the squat leads to more injuries, where it's too much of a risk (they found this from their own data, from the 80s to present).

And of course you can do accessory stuff/upper body. It depends on how much you lift throughout the week. I always throw some chin-ups/neutral grip pull-ups and abs on squat days. If I don't do chins, I'll do push-ups, or blast-strap push-ups. And you can do whatever else you want on the other two days (assuming you lift 5x a week).


#10

Hey guys. New vid. 4 minutes of me working out(clips). Boring, but any feedback would be helpful. I changed couple of things up. I widened my stance at bit. I use to try to keep it kind of narrow, but I dont think I can do that and keep good form. My heels are now about lined up with my shoulders and I've turned my feet out a bit more. It's now easier to sit inbetween my legs. Is this change fine?

With these changes, I'm wondering what you guys think of my form? I'm kind of rounding at the bottom so I'm wondering how I can fix that? I can't seem to keep my arch or even neutral. Any tips?

Also, I feel like my body does that because I can't get my knees more forward, so in order to keep the weight over my center of gravity, I have to lose some arch. Does that make sense? If not, just leave any tips and I'll appreciate it.

Oh and PB Andy, I'll be doing the program you gave me in about a month. I feel like I'll need to prepare my body with a basic 3x5 first because I had to take a bit of a layoff.


#11

overhead/snatch squats are also a good exercise to help improve squating technique through increasing flexibility in all the right places for the back squat, heavy weight arent necessary to improve flexibility, just the bar and maybe work your way to 10kg plate each side is enough. Later on try a cycle geared towards increasing snatch squat, then go back to normal routine and use them as a warm up for back squatsAs mention earlier , back squat are dam good too.

cheer!!!!


#12

nice stuff! Squats are looking good. Get some oly shoes and it will be easier to get your knees forward, and have more of a lower back arch. Also - work on your hip mobility. Look up articles here by Mike Robertson and Eric Cressey.


#13

New vid guys. I can't seem to keep my back neutral. I feel like I might be able to stay more upright if I break at the knees first and think about them traveling forward. Do you think this would help me out?


#14

First, yes, break at the knees and hips, let your knees move forward. Push them out, as well.

Are you wearing oly shoes? Doesn't look like it.

It seems you really need to work on your thoracic mobility. Do some thoracic extensions on a foam roller. Also, your hip mobility could use some work, do you do any dynamic stretching prior to lifting?

You are also letting your chest cave. Do some broomstick mobilizations to stretch your chest out a bit.


#15

I'm interested in this setup for squats too. I'm currently about to start the final week of the Russian Squat Routine, and as a once per week squatter since forever up til now, I've realised just how much I like squatting. Do you think it will be feasible to transition onto this kind of 3x per week wave right after the RSR?

And once you get up to 85%, do you start the wave again? Deload? Tell me more!


#16

I break from the knees first, rather than from the hips. Want to keep a vertical torso so I try and do that by thinking to push my knees out to the sides to give my torso enough room to descend straight down between my legs. Keep thinking of the Dan John thing about how your body isn't stacked on top of your legs so that you need to fold up like an accordion...

Rather your torso is slung between your legs and so you want to basically get your legs out the way so your torso can descend straight down between them. Of course your knees need to stay in line with your toes, but I've heard a number of people say to think 'push your knees out' as a cue. I have very limited ankle dorsiflexion, though (orthopedic issues) so maybe thinking 'knees forwards' helps those who have the ability to do that, I don't know.

I found something once (having trouble finding it again) about butt wink (losing lumbar curve near the bottom of a squat). While sometimes it does seem to be due to lack of hamstring flexibility (so the short hamstrings pull out the lumbar curve) sometimes it can be about people not actively using their hip flexors to descend.

Not quite sure how this works (if this even makes sense) but there was some discussion on this and a guy posted a vid of him with and without hip flexor engagement to demonstrate (it was some crossfit discussion website if you have better luck in locating the discussion). Not sure if that helps.

I guess if you can get yourself into a deep squat position without weight and then wiggle around recruiting things differently and you can get a good lumbar arch then you know it is recruitment rather than flexibility. If you have trouble getting down there in a relaxed state then I guess its flexibility. Probably some combination.


#17

This isn't the discussion but it is the vid:

Once you get a feel for it then adding a bit of weight helps push you down so you get deeper into the squat without losing the arch.


#18

Good observation about the butt wink. I used to have the same problem when I first start Oly lifting. My ankles were (naturally) flexible but my hips weren't at all and as a result I started to notice some creeping soreness in my sacroiliac joint (SI), presumably because of the slight butt wink I had.

As well, I noticed when I would stay seated for a long period of time - like a 50 minute class period - I could cross my ankles and do some light abduction with my hips and could produce a cracking sound (think cracking knuckles) in the SI.

To fix this I had to do what most posters are suggesting: extra attention to flexibility and form. I found the stretch that Glenn Pendlay recommends to be very helpful with both. This stretch, which you can find on the California strength site (under the form training videos I think) goes like this: squat down and put the back of your elbows on the medial side of your knees.

Put your hands together like you're praying and work on spreading the knees while keeping an upright chest position and rolling your hips back to stretch the hamstrings. This helped to reinforce the lower position with a tight back and oddly enough really helped with my knee going valgus on heavy squats. A simple enough addition, I think, to your form work.

After looking at your videos I can see you are noticeably improving. Keep up the great work OP and you'll be there in no time.


#19

PB Andy, no I am not wearing oly shoes. Money is tight right now, especially with school. I did switch from chucks(flat sole) to basketball shoes though(more heel lift). Do you think I should consciously send my knees further forward? And I don't have a foam roller, but I do have a small pvc pipe. I try feel like I have good thoracic mobility when I'm standing up, but I have to work on it when I'm in the hole. And you're right about my chest. I do need to stretch it out. Hopefully it will help a lot.

Btw, my warmup usually consists of a lap around my block, static stretching my hip flexors, dynamically stretching everything else, and doing TKE's for my knees. When I'm just hanging out in my room after my workout or on my off days, I focus on doing squat to stands as well as stretch out my hamstrings and calves. I do the stretch where you push your knees out with your elbows, but I'll be sure to do it more.

And thanks for the help everyone! I'll be sure to keep everyone posted. I might just keep this thread as my workout log.


#20

I think your squat shows you have some inflexibility issues, as your butt tucks under a lot. As was brought out, ankle flexibility is something that you should consider improve as well as plates under the heals (assuming you can't get the shoes yet). FWIW, here is a link I made a while ago to show my form. It has improved in depth a little bit because of an increase of flexiblity, but the structure is about the same. I used a hip width, not shoulder width, with a 40-45 degree toe flair which REALLY helps with depth. Feel free to check it out:

http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding_olympic/role_of_ankles_in_high_bar_squats