T Nation

Squat depth help


So, I'm not an Olympic lifter, I'm a powerlifter....I greatly respect you guys though.

I wanted some feedback on how yall got the flexibility to squat so low without "tucking" your pelvis.

Yes, yes, I know that powerlifting squats are not the same, but I squat raw NOT geared and I actually prefer the way you guys squat.

I have proportionately long legs even for 6'0" and flexibility has always been a problem for squat. Obviously I stretch. But I just want to hear what tricks you guys have used to achieve true "ass to grass" depth. Please help.

Thanks so much.


I am NOT a powerlifter or an olympic lifter, however since nobody has answered I'll give something that has helped me. I'm in a similar situation physically(6'3" with LONG legs). I find that when my hip flexors are tight, the 'tucking' of the pelvis becomes more pronounced. I like to do overhead split squats with both feet elevated(front foot on plate and back foot on bench) before any squat session. Go as low as you can while still feeling your glutes engaged and as you approach the bottom reach with your arms towards the ceiling(this should emphasize the stretch on the hip flexors). I usually start with an unloaded barbell to get the feeling of the movement and then I'll add weight. Nothing too crazy though as you don't want to fatigue your legs. Just get the stretch and move on. If you have trouble feeling your glutes, I would recommend either hip thrusts from a bench with a loaded barbell or looking into the 'glute man's' article. I believe his name is Chad Waterbury but I may have that wrong.

Best of lifting


Yes, tight hip flexors can be a problem.

Ripptoe has a fairly recent article at T Nation on fixing the lumbar curve. that might be helpful, too.

(Sometimes the issue can be over pelvic control)

I found the most helpful thing was front loaded plate squats (holding around 5kg at arms length so I was looking through the hole). Enough weight to help push you into the squat (stretching things).

If your lumbar curve is held tight and you are really pulling yourself down hard with your hip flexors then bouncing (gently!) around your bottom position helps it get lower over time.


The "glute guy" is Bret Contreras.

As for the OP question, try ramping up with front squats first. Same principle that Alexus alludes to with the plate loaded squats. It is relatively easy to go ATG with front squats. It also grooves a thoracic extension, and abdominal tightness. Then when you switch (in the same workout) to back squats, your depth should come easier. Maybe not ATG, but lower than you were used to.

It also helps me to imagine that I'm putting a boulder down between my legs..(thanks Dan John)

Single leg work, lunges, step ups, BSS's, 1-leg RDL's also help build more stability which translate to better balance and better depth.

Also, to get lower, your knees are going to have to come forward more than you may be used to with a powerlifting style squat. Your mileage may vary, but these are some of the things that have helped me get lower.

Good luck!


i had this tuck for a long while as well.

just kept squatting and stretched(mainly hamstrings). It took a very long time to go away but I also didn't stretch as often as I could either. I think if you stretch 3 times a day for 10 minutes each time you can get rid of the pelvic tuck in about 2 months.


I do a bunch of leg swings as a super quick dynamic warmup everytime I lift (about 8-10 per leg, front to back and side to side). I also like to drop into a full squat (no weight or bar) and just kind of shift my weight around and hang out down there for a little bit, push my knees around, get a good feel for rock bottom.


Thanks guys.

Bmacres- I like that idea of single leg overhead squats.

Alexus- I will try the plateloaded squats today. Thanks

Lordstorm- I will definitely beef up on the frequency of my stretching.

TheJonty- thanks. I like the idea of the active stretching.

Felix- thats a good idea also. I will try warming up with front squats.

Appreciate it very very much, guys. Thanks.


This is the back position article:



that was the article i was thinking of thanks for posting the link.


Active Isolated stretching of the short and long groin and hamstrings helped me tremendously. Also, it's hard to describe without a picture, but basically get on the ground on your elbows and knees, then get your knees as wide as possible with your feet dorsi flexed, keep your hips and shoulders at the same height, and every time you exhale ease back a little more into the stretch. Really recreates a vertical squat position well and you can really feel where you are tight. Im sure you could find any number of routines out there to help with your mobility but the key is just consistency, everyday a couple times a day, dont force the stretch and be patient. hope some of this helps.


what part of your feet contact the ground?


the entire foot contacts the ground, but i initiate force with the balls of my feet


Front squat.

i'm just gonna guess and say you don't. If you don't, after back squatting take the biggest dumbell you can and goblet front squat and actually stay in the hole for a few seconds for each rep. Then work into front squats after a couple of weeks. NO NO No front squats are a real eye opener, but there is nothin more embarressing than doing one half way, or having to bail out. When your sitting on your ass watching TV, get up and sit in a full squat for a whole commercial or two at each break so it becomes a nature position to your nerves and muscles. Not just something you do 3 times aweek for a couple of 10 to 20 minutes.

just some suggestions.

if nothin else. Front squat. Your quads, upper back and lower back will all thank you.




just keep at it,
3 weeks is only a blink, give yourself some time. I know this will sound bad, but if your back is curving on your front squats.....reduce the weight your using until your core is stronger. Get the technique right or you'll just end up injured. I tore up my knee last fall back squating with bad technique and switched to front squats during my recovery and fell in love with them. I've been doin them for 4 months now and they still don't feel natural but alot better than back in December. As for shoes. I just bought a pair of Oly shoes a month ago. Yes they help, but at least for me it wasn't alot. I'd hoped they'd put an extra hundred pounds on my front squat.....but no luck...hahaha. It has been very embaressing for me because i front squat what i use to warm up with for back squats. But i'm full squating now and the lbs are going up, the knee feels great, my lower back doesn't hurt and i love my wider upper back. And seriously find time during the day to sit down in a full squat at work or a home for a minute or two a couple of times a day it will really help.
And here's some inspiration from Kahki, guy makes me sick



Thanks man. Yeah I go pretty light on it. I only got up to 185. My upper back doesn't really round (maybe on the last rep of a set, but as soon as i feel it round i rack it). It is really only my lower back that tucks....i seriously think its a flexibility issue...doesn't matter what the weight is it tucks if i get more than and inch maybe inch and a half past parallel. My hips have always been really tight and I cannot touch my toes (but i think my long legs/ short torso makes the toe touching much harder). Anyways, I meant to post a video already, but the person that filmed it has yet to email me the video...i will post it as soon as she sends it. Thanks for the continued feedback. I appreciate it.




here's an article that really hit home with me. It got me finding time to body squat daily. I seriously think this will help. I found body squatting everyday, working on holding it longer each day and keeping my back tight until it came naturally, did me more good than some stretch that wasn't a squat.

I'm long legged and short torso'd as well. Oh and please no "i'm not flexible" excuse. For christ sakes your in college. You legally can't use the "i'm not flexible" defense for another 20 years! I'm 50. I never Never front squatted in my life till december. I thought my damn wrists were gonna break the first month and that was with only 135 on the bar.


and for fun:

all that video needs now is Soulja Boy



BTW, everytime I saw people (kids to adults) learn to squat with a barbell, they automatically raise their heels when trying to get to the bottom. Apparently the problem isn't limited to mobility issue alone.


Bramble has posted a lot of good info. I would like to doubly recommend the third world squat article. That really helped me.

There are other issues besides just the hip flexors, although I really think they are often the biggest culprits. Ankle mobility and calf tissue quality is HUGE. Even if your hip flexors are mobile and loose, you can still suck if your calves are tight and you can't dorsiflex your ankle a good 15-20 degrees.

Another issue is the ability to internally rotate around the hip joint. Robertson and company wrote an article on it in the past, gave specific stretches to help with all the issues. And I believe gentilcore wrote one as well.

So, in addition to some of the things you are doing now, also lool into ankle mobility and other aspects of hip mobility, not just flexors.