T Nation

Squat Flexibility


#1

A new quarter is coming up at school and I'm getting my friend to join me in the gym.

I took him there today for the first time, to show him around and teach him some lifts.

One of the major difficulties I encountered was that he does not have the flexibility to squat at all. He can only bodyweight squat to where his knee is at a ~100 degree angle. If he tries to go any lower he gets off his heels into a strange stance...

Are there any methods or stretches that he can do to gain the flexibility to squat properly?


#2

Well it could be flexibility issues, but he could also be too weak to sit back into the squat. If you can, start him off doing box squats that are above parallel. Make sure to emphasize the sitting back portion of the lift. As he progresses just keep lowering the box until he is at or below parallel. This should help to teach him the form and train his posterior chain to be strong enough to squat.

Then look up some of the stretching articles on here. Make sure to read Eric Cressey's "10 Uses for a Smith Machine" and have him do those as well.

Good luck to you and your friend and I hope this helps.

Steve


#3

I forgot one more thing as well, if he is tight, you can have him point his toes out to the side slightly and that can make descending into the squat easier.


#4

I'm sure you know this already, but make sure his stance isn't too narrow... That was a problem I had when I started lifting about 6 weeks ago because I didn't have anyone to tell me different.

I didn't have my stance wide enough, then when I fixed it I was able to sit back ATG and finish my squats.


#5

It can also be just a matter of practice. Your friend might just be needing more practice... Can he do deep bodyweight squats? Or can he get to the bottom squat position with just the bar?


#6

When I said bodyweight squat, I meant that he could get to that position (100 degrees at the knee) without any added weight - so no bar.

This is a pretty large problem as he cannot even get low enough to reach the bar when deadlifting.


#7

Try getting your friend to overhead squat with a very light bar or his hands up. When he gets more comfortable getting lower, then go back to the squats. I find a lot of people fear going low on squats because they're afraid they will fall on the butts.

You might also want to try putting a little 2 1/2 or 5lb plate just under his heels only and that should allow him to get lower and more comfortable. If you want to really learn some good advice, buy the book Starting Strength. It's available at elitefts.com and it helped me squat lower and add 50lbs to my max squat in 2 weeks with the info there.

I'm a trainer in my gym and now i have an easier time getting all my clients to parallel squat after reading the book. Good luck.


#8

To be honest, I doubt the reason why he cannot get low is a flexibility issue rather than a "fear" or "comfort" issue as suggested.

I'm looking to develop flexibility so that he can full squat - I don't see a reason why he should stop at parallel.

Anyways, as EC suggested we're going to work with some dynamic flexibility drills as well as pulling many ideas from the 'Gear Your Butt in Gear' and 'Smith Machine' articles.


#9

I didn't read you original post carefully, and though that he was squatting with bodyweight on the bar.

Following EC's advice will most surely help your friend. Just be aware it'll take some time, and that the progess will be gradual. And most definetly, stretch the hip flexors.


#10

His heels are coming off the floor because his calves are tight. Have him stretch his hammies out thoroughly after a workout. The looser your hamstrings are, the lower you can sit in a squat while keeping your lower back tight.