T Nation

Squat Difficulties


I am 44, 250 pounds, been lifting for many years. Not a regular squatter, but I have done them on and off. I've tried deadlifting before too and have the same problem, related to a "bad back" or "weak" back.

I hurt my back in high school football ("wrenched it"). Hurt it again in college (poor squat form)...took an army physical in 1990 and FAILED it, due to "bad back"...they didn't say exactly what was wrong, they watch you walking with your hands grabbing your ankles and said something was wrong.

Anyway, I try to do very "good" squats, leaning back, keeping feet at shoulder width only, keeping shins perpendictular to the ground, going "all the way down", no bouncing at all, in fact I try to pause in the hole...but the problem is I can't do much weight. Like 135 for 12 or 15 about wears me out. More and it a) feels heavy when I rack it...like unstable.

When I use 135 I can feel it in my hamstrings and hips but more than that it feels like my hamstrings aren't firing or something...I end up leaning forward on the way up (not sure if that's good or bad)...just don't feel as "in control".

I remember in college the doctor told me that I had a "bad back" that the bottom vetebrae were made of cartilege instead of bone (not sure exactly but that was the gist of it)...later another doctor (an ortho) said he'd never heard of that.

Any ideas what is wrong with me? I've been to doctor's before...one had a reverse hyper type of machine which I couldn't do at all...they didn't diagnose anything anatomically wrong with me, but I can't figure out why my back is so weak if I am doing things to stregthen it and the rest of my body is relatively strong.


I'd go ahead and go back to the doctor and find out what is wrong.


I know whats wrong, you are a bipedal creature. BOOM your welcome no more visits to the docter lol.


I hurt my back over a year ago and am finally able to squat and deadlift heavy again. The solution: lots of hamstring stretching and using a two pronged powerlifting belt. The abdominal/lower back support they give blows away a standard belt. I still sort of "fall forward" in the hole on squats, but I think that's due to needing to strengthen my lower back and just get used to the movement more than anything.

I got my belt for $27 including shipping (in the USA), and love it. Not quite as thick as a 13mm belt, but thick enough for most people. I've squatted 300+ and deadlifted 400+ with it no problems.

It's from a competitor's website, so people can PM me if they want to know what it is/where to get it. Not gonna post a link to a competitor's site on the forums (even if it is for something Biotest doesn't sell).


I would do the opposite, most of the time the hammies feel tight because they are stretched, anf the quads are extremely tight. Stretch the hip flexors and quads, and beat your glutes and hams into submission.


Learn to box squat.
Problems solved


Is that so?
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Here's one suggestion. Going to MD's for a bad back isn't usually very productive. i'd go to a sports chiropractor (CCSP delineation). They not only have the basic training with spinal complaints, but also sports specific training to help with technical problems in lifting, so you aren't guessing. No, the last vertbrae isn't made of cartilage causing the problem.


Chiropractor first.

Front squats. If they still hurt you then its belt squats-they were all I could do for years and are a great alternative if all types of 'proper' squatting are off the table.

Good luck...