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Squat Depth Discussion

This is a continuation of the discussion we were having in this thread:

Some of the quotes are going to seem to come from thin air, but they’re actually from the other thread.

Alright, so Snaps sent me a couple vids in a PM, and that’s some damn fine squatting. I need to clear up some confusion, though:

There is a huge difference between Oly-style full-depth squats and powerlifting squats. PL squats are done to parallel or just below. A parallel squat is not an ATG squat (and I really hate that term, anyway. Should be Ass-To-Calves or just full-depth). With a decent amount of work, most people can hit parallel with a very wide stance.

My viewpoints in this discussion have been regarding the full-ROM oly squat. Very little of what I’ve said applies to the PL squat.

[quote]alexus wrote:

I don’t know of anyone who can ATG wide stance.

Jay - meet kpsnap. If she doesn’t quite get it ATG she gets it freaking close. When she feels like it, anyway.[/quote]

This would be an ATG squat with a wide stance. Hurts me just to look at it. I know it’s possible because he’s doing it, but I wouldn’t recommend it to the average gym-goer.

Pulled this pic from another forum. She was suffering from chronic knee pain.

Doesn’t get much better than this.

Or this.

My vids were certainly not ATG. But I can do it. I’ll try one like the top woman and post.

What was the original point anyway? Ha.

My squat is atg and tends to be wider when I snatch than when I’m squatting or cleaning. Not on purpose or anything, just something I’ve noticed. Possibly because I’m sloppier in my snatch form. I do think it’s on the wide side overall however.

To me, wide is powerlifter wide, rack support to rack support much like kpsnap’s vid’s.

The original point, and the one I’d like to get back to, is involvement of the hip flexors when squatting. I see no reason for the iliopsoas to be involved other than in the upright position (to keep you from going over backwards).

I am, in fact, looking for an argument (but in a ‘I want to learn from it or inform others’ kind of way). I’m not asserting myself as absolutely right.

[quote]debraD wrote:
My squat is atg and tends to be wider when I snatch than when I’m squatting or cleaning. Not on purpose or anything, just something I’ve noticed. Possibly because I’m sloppier in my snatch form. I do think it’s on the wide side overall however. [/quote]
I’ve noticed this a lot on the snatch. I think it’s because you’re trying to get so low. You can get lower to the ground if you kick your feet out a little farther where the upper leg doesn’t come down directly on top of the lower leg.

Another case of the brain working things out without you consciously knowing, I think.

For the snatch, it works fine. You have less weight on the bar and you’re trying to get as low as possible. As far as an all-out-effort squat is concerned, I think this foot position would cause knee and hip trouble in the long run.

This is my squat. 190 = 5RM

Any critique, advice, and feedback would be much appreciated.

@Deluxe_Supreme: I was in your other thread. Post up a new vid with the improvements you made, and let’s see if we can hone it down a bit more.

In the mean time, I’ll repost my pre-squat stretching routine. You said you need to work on hip mobility, and this is just the thing for both hips and ankles:

Plantar Fascia rolling
Single-leg soleus stretch on a knee-height box
Glute stretch
Goblet squat groin stretch (push knees out with elbows)
Goblet squat hip extensor stretch (pull knees into armpits and arch hard)
Goblet squat ‘big chest, buddha belly’

Again, if you want, I’ll go into detail.

Hi friends.
For the past 3 months or so Ive really been trying hard to improve my squat flexibility. At the moment I can get about half a inch below parallel.
My flexiblity routine is similar to JayPearce with some foam rolling and a couple more hip mobility moves. I dont really stretch my glutes though, besides foam rolling them. Im 6’2, have long legs, previous left ankle surgery for a bone spur, and my trainer says I have short hamstrings.

My question is: I train to be big and powerful. Is there any benefit to me to purchase some olympic lifting shoes to help improve my depth, or should I stick with barefoot and hopefully improve my flexibility over time?

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sorry i’ve been to long in replying.

snapper has a video somewhere of her doing wide stance squats (also VERY wide stance squats) well below parallel. if they aren’t quite ATG they are close. hope she doesn’t mind my saying that just hitting depth on her powerlifting squats (rather than going well below parallel) was something that she had to work on. back before the days of her squat suit…

i am starting to see that the hip flexors are involved for recruitment rather than stretch. i’ve been contemplating this while doing my (stick assisted) natural GHR. working hard on keeping the tension / activation through the full ROM (glute pump ftw!!) and recruitment does (to my body at least) kind of feel like a stretch (e.g., on the way back up).

found this a while back and simply couldn’t believe my eyes:

optical illusion?

his feet are together so hit butt has to sit back behind his midfoot. his shins must remain upright because of the wall. he can’t lean forwards very much because of the wall.

and yet he doesn’t fall backwards on his ass.

how is that possible?

(of course his bottom position is a little soft - but the exercise isn’t supposed to be weighted. his shoulders also slump forwards a little which helps shift his gravity forwards. he is also a dude so his gravity is a bit higher - more in the shoulders than the hips). but still…

he is ‘hanging on’ with his hip flexors, isn’t he?

it does make sense to me that the hip flexors are particularly involved in an upright torso position. squats are a bit precarious for me (because my center of balance is a bit back behind my midfoot). seems to me that i feel it in my hip flexors when i’m doing my squats ‘more right’ (in the sense of sitting into a tight bottom position with good lumbar arch and upright torso). i feel it in my hip flexors less when my bottom position is softer (lumbar arch slacks a little and / or i lean forwards a little to try and deload my pathetic little legs).

i noticed that the kettlebell squat dude (in one of the youtube demo vids i posted earlier) said some stuff about ‘stretching out the hip flexors’. so… seems that it is a popular misconception that the hip flexors are stretched in squats.

thanks very much for pointing out that that isn’t (can’t anatomically be) the case.

^I bet his nose was raw after filming that

I do feel wall squats in the hip flexors, for exactly the reason you stated. You’re basically hanging on and trying not to fall on your ass. You should not feel the same activation during a weighted squat, though. Keeping your center of gravity over your mid-foot should eliminate it. This is actually what I meant when I said you should pile more weight on the bar. The heavier the bar is, the farther forward your CG will be. The farther forward your CG is, the easier it is to squat without falling backward.

You have special circumstances in that your ankle flexibility is so limited that you are fighting not to fall backward when you squat. Front squats probably feel a lot more comfortable for you because they make it easier to keep your balance. If you can fix your ankles, your squat is gonna skyrocket.

I read back through everything and didn’t see where you posted your exact method of rehabbing your ankle mobility. Care to let me take a crack at it?

Actually, my problem was that I was competing in PLing and squatting to the floor. I couldn’t stop myself from going too deep. Moving to wide stance has allowed me to find that sweet spot where I can dip below parallel but not to the floor. I took some pics today. Not sure they show much since they were taken from the front. I think the side angle is better for this demo but doesn’t show stance.

Wider still.

Narrow stance.

damn you are beautiful snapper :slight_smile:

i’d love it if you want to take a crack on how i can get some ankle dorsiflexion back. i’ve been doing everything i can… feel like i am making some progress, but it is much much slower than i would like.

my aims:

  • to stretch my toes back from the balls of my foot without the middle toe joint popping up and the ends of my toes digging painfully into the ground (need it to jerk)
  • to stretch the balls of my feet back from my heel (just feels like this is needed)
  • to get better dorsiflexion (need it to squat) also working on plantarflexion

(seems to me that the ligaments / tendons / muscles / whatthehell ever all along the bottom of my feet and up the back of my leg have shrunk)

the method:

sorry it is so long. i think it is more useful, though, because it will show you something of the nature of my limited range of motion / deformities. i forget what normal feet are supposed to look like / what they are supposed to do :frowning: i do these drills almost daily. i edited the footage down (deleting most of the repeated stuff to the left leg that didn’t show the feet/ ankle dorsiflexion).

i got some wide (for me though perhaps not snapper wide) stance squats at the end. front + side view. yes it puts almost painful pressure on the outside of my hips. does feel a bit like i’m forcing the range of motion and it isn’t natural. no i will not be weighting them that wide. but I CAN squat ATG with a wide stance and lumbar arch. just sayin’ :wink:

Sorry it’s taking me so long to respond. I’m having to do some work to my computer.

First off, a couple questions:
Do you wear high heels?
Do you sleep on your stomach?

Hopefully the answer is no to both. It would be really hard to gain dorsiflexion when you spend the majority of your time in plantar flexion.

Speaking of plantar flexion, I would rather see you doing your plantar fascia rolling while sitting in a chair with your ankle slightly dorsiflexed. You’ll be able to apply more pressure, with your foot and ankle relaxed and your tendons slightly stretched.

When you stretch your achilles and soleus, try to find a hard bench or a plyo box (you don’t want anything padded) around knee height or a bit higher. Drop down all the way until you’re sitting on your calf, with your other foot on the floor. Now shift your weight forward onto the ball of your foot while keeping your heel on the bench. Relax the leg being stretched as much as possible and hold the stretch for 45-60 seconds. This is also a good position to roll even farther forward and stretch the tendons going to your toes.

Oof. I gotta get moving or I’ll be late for work. More later!

Hi Alexus,
When you are foam rolling your platar fascia, I would like to see you using a smaller ball. Also you can do that standing up, so you can apply your bodyweight and get some flexion going aswell. I find a PVC pipe for calf foam rolling is better than the ball.

And where did you get those shoes from? I need a pair.

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I meant dorsiflexion.