T Nation

Squat Critique

Hey everybody.

So here is my story: I love squats. But it was not always this way. A year and a half ago, when I first discovered powerlifting and decided that’s what I wanted to do, I tested my squat and it was 195 lbs - I sucked. I vowed on that day to make squatting my strongest movement. Since then, not only have I definitely improved my squat, but I have grown to love them, and they are now by far my favorite lift.

Over the last 6 months I have made my biggest gains, taking my Pr from 275 to 345. However, I also developed some bad habits because I was pushing so hard - I was racking the bar way too low on my back, dropping my chest really low to compensate, and barely hitting depth because of it. SO, in the past few weeks I have been working to fix this, moving my rack position a bit higher, fighting to keep my torso more upright, and working to hit a nice solid depth on every rep. It sucks to take a hit to my numbers, but it’s worth it to make sure my form is better.

Today, I maxed out with my new and improved technique. I am going to re-set my 5/3/1 work based on this max, which will give me a few cycles of lighter weight to continue working on my squat form, so that when I get back up heavy again hopefully I can crush my old PR’s.

However, since I’m taking the weight back for a couple months in order to work on technique anyways, I figured I would post a video of my squats from today and see if any of you guys had further critiques or ideas on things I could work on. Now is the perfect time to tweak form issues, both big and small, so anything you notice would be helpful. Let me know what you think, and thanks.

And here is the link to the video, just in case the embedded one doesn’t work

That 335 where you failed was stupid as fuck. Never do that again.

Just because you’re trying to do a low bar squat doesn’t mean you need to do a squat morning.

If you want to develop your low bar, find the So You Think You Can Squat videos and watch them three times.

Rippetoe coaching videos are also really helpful.

How tall are you? You are coming forward a lot, but if you are taller and have a longer torso, you will always have to lean forward a bit. That is something you can work on either way though because you have room for improvement.

Not really form related, but what is with the jive turkey dance after you step back? You are moving all over the place. When you are trying to set a pr, just focus on stepping back, taking a breath and beginning the movement.

Also, when did headbands become cool again?

[quote]i_am_ketosis wrote:

Not really form related, but what is with the jive turkey dance after you step back? You are moving all over the place. When you are trying to set a pr, just focus on stepping back, taking a breath and beginning the movement.

Also, when did headbands become cool again? [/quote]

That’s actually something that I noticed and forgot to mention. Even with 135 you seem totally uncomfortable with the bar on your back. The more time you spend with the bar on your back, the harder the lift is going to be. Take two or three strong steps, take a deep breath, and squat.

Obsidian - Your squat-morning comment, are you talking about the video itself or the way I described how I use to squat? just to clarify.

Ketosis - I’m not very tall. 5 ’ 10" and around 190. The moving my feet around is just another bad habit i’m trying to fix, I take a lot of time getting my feet set before I actually squat. I’m working on getting myself a pair of oly shoes to give me a more solid base, I squatted in a pair a few days ago and it made a big difference. They might also help keep my torso more upright, although obviously that’s something I need to work on, can’t just rely on the shoes.

[quote]N.K. wrote:
Obsidian - Your squat-morning comment, are you talking about the video itself or the way I described how I use to squat? just to clarify.

Ketosis - I’m not very tall. 5 ’ 10" and around 190. The moving my feet around is just another bad habit i’m trying to fix, I take a lot of time getting my feet set before I actually squat. I’m working on getting myself a pair of oly shoes to give me a more solid base, I squatted in a pair a few days ago and it made a big difference. They might also help keep my torso more upright, although obviously that’s something I need to work on, can’t just rely on the shoes. [/quote]

Ok, work on keeping your torso more up right. Drill it with lighter loads and it will start to carry over.

Something I forgot to mention in my previous post was the way your arms tuck at the bottom of the squat. It’s hard to tell from the angle, but you might be losing your back arch there so that might be something you may want to work on as well. That will also help with keeping your torso more erect through the movement.

The busy legs before you squat I can relate to. I used to do that myself. I fixed it by doing all my nervous jitter habits before I got under the bar. I shake out my legs, kick my heels into the ground, take a few deep breaths, shrug as if I’m loading the bar on my back, basically just a little practice set up. Then step under the bar and get to business. That helped me quite a bit.

Ketosis - thanks, those are good ideas. As you said, I think the jitters are just a stupid habit. I have a few little bad habits like that, taking too many steps back, and looking down to check my feet. I have to work on fighting those urges, trusting I know where to set my feet, and just getting through that setup more efficiently. And like I said, I think the oly shoes might help. It’s harder to jiggle around with wood soles.

And the arms tucking is actually something I just noticed today haha. I think it’s a result of me letting the bar shift on my back a bit, which is probably allowing me to keep my torso more forward. again, something to work on with the lighter weights I will be working with in my next few cycles.

I’m referring to the squat itself. You are falling forward so much that when you start to come up, you’re squat is becoming a good morning.

My first critique is getting yourself some spotters! Instead of those jerk offs yelling at you, they should be there to help you out with a failure, without nearly having your head snapped off your neck. Or at the very least train in a power rack with some safety bars a couple of inches below the lowest part of the bar path.

As for your form, I second the So You Think You can Squat series. It’s mostly targeted for geared lifters, but there is some really good info on bracing the abdomen, shoulder position, and flexibility issues. You are definitely falling to far forward. Push out and down with your abs, pull your shoulder blades as close together as possible and pull down on the bar forcing your elbows down. This will help to keep your torso more up right.

I get kinda violent and fast with my lifts alot like you do, I think. The one problem with that is that stability can take a hit if it’s not second nature yet. Spread the floor apart with your feet. That should keep them locked in too.

Also:

If you fail, your weight should be such that you can dump it backwards.

Dope vid, hastalles. Excellent advice about pushing your head back into the bar. Putting some inertia in the bar in the right direction at the bottom is never a bad idea.

Disclaimer- I am a newb, but i did watch the “so you think you can squat” series and my squat went up a lot.

Tips

  1. Really focus on sticking your ass out.

  2. Sit back. A way to help this is squat TO a box. NOT a box squat but to a box and just touch and go. THis will help you feel comfortable sitting back.

  3. When coming out of the hole bring your chest up first then hips.

  4. keep your walkout short and quick.

Thanks to everyone for the comments, critiques, videos, and help. I really wasn’t realizing how severe the forward lean is, but after listening to you guys, and watching the video a thousand times, I see it more and more.

Now that I know what i most need to work on, I can go put some real work into my technique to be doing the kind of squat that I REALLY want to be doing. It sucks to take a hit to my numbers, but I’m gonna bite the bullet, work my ass off, and see what I can do over the next 6 months or so. Maybe ill post another vid then, see what you guys think. thanks again for the advice.