T Nation

Squat Form Check


Been trying to dial down my squat form. Working a ton on ankle and hip mobility, but there are still a couple things I notice wrong:

-Basically anything below ~parallel in the squat feels completely out of my control. I'm very slow out of the bottom, and was given the advice to just dive bomb it and ride the bounce I get. It doesn't feel very stable or safe and I haven't been able to do it with more than ~135lbs (hence the chains I'm using)

-I notice that my knees shoot forward at the bottom. Sometimes this can even cause me to come up on my toes. I've been thinking about investing in Olympic Shoes, though I don't know if that would even help at all.

-I'm leaning over a lot and my butt seems to shoot back and up before everything else. I train the shit out of my hamstrings and glutes in supplemental work, maybe I need to actually do something for my quads?

Any advice would help. I've been stuck between 205-225lbs forever.


Form looks pretty solid. You squat a lot with your back and some heavy good mornings and pin squats would surely help. I do pin squats every other week. I just alternate height and weight. So one week i overload so like 1rpm +10lbs from above depth, and then next week 75% 1rpm below depth. I am not sure what your current accessories are, but these are some options.


A little hard to give a form check with the chains. Do you have recent vids without? Something maybe with a set of 3-5?


Agreed. Also - if you're worried about form, why are you squatting with chains? As for progress, what is your program like? Admittedly, I've never been stuck like that, been following 5/3/1 for several years now. Works like a champ...


I'm wondering about the chain thing also. I bought some and gave them a try. I would say they are useless because I did use them once to pull my sons car out of a ditch.

For what my opinion is worth, forgo the chains, they screw up your form when it really counts. Please, please do not take that dive bomb advice, stay under control and feel the weight. Truthfully, I do not think your form is as bad as you think. Your ass goes back nicely and you are using your back. Don't get caught up in using too much back, they are strong muscles and if you use them they will help your squats.

Follow up with gtl's advice on another video.


Thanks for the replies guys. I was using the chains so that I could try to better control the weight at the bottom (since it's lighter), as well as work on speed from the bottom, while still having a relatively heavy weight.

I will get a video tomorrow of some heavy squats sans chains.


I think your squat looks rather a lot like my squat (I'm a chick). I think 'joint laxity'. You look bendy and fast rather than stiff and strong. Does every repetition feel a bit different?

I am not sure what the answer is. I mostly do Olympic Lifting insofar as I do anything these days, so I'm aiming for a fast descent to ride it the hell out of the hole (I tell myself). It is a tricky thing to reliably hit a tight bottom position, though. I'm actually thinking that the answer might be to slow up the tempo some. Use the muscles more and try and spare the joints some. Controlled 3 second descent. Pause. Power up best I can. Driving hips forwards and up.

The trouble is... That I can move a hell of a lot less weight that way. I'm not sure whether it is best for me to persist or what. For me... It just feels right. But I'm not a powerlifter.


i would say you are not keeping your upper body upright enough, and elbows arent under the bar enough, maybe try that? also i would do paused squats instead of squats with chains, if thats where youre weak


Just a quick response, take it with a grain of salt, but it looks like your "core" needs more work. Try adding some situps, hypers or whatever, to build some added strength/reinforcement in that area. Also try and "tuck" your tailbone in on your way up, as this helps to get your hips underneath the weight, transfering the load to your quads...hope you can understand what i mean...good luck.


kind of curious, what makes you think her core is weak.


You need to sit back more, your knees are shooting out and you are using too much of your quads. I've had really good success with box squat. Teaches you to sit back and build all the important muscles. There is no way in HELL you should be using chains already. That's a advanced training tool that professionals do.


A great tool to use for learning explode is dead stop pin squats starting from the pins at parallel. Please don't use chains just yet. Gaining core strength is great and squats are great for gaining core strength. Squat more. Also do pause squats and/or bottom breathing pause squats to build up all kinds of power. Check out Greg Nuckols article on here regarding that. Pause squats are great and one pretty good squatter used them frequently...a little know powerlifter(Ha, ha) Ed Coan.


Probably the fact that she doesn't keep her chest up and her hips come up before her chest. Thoracic spine and core strength would help. I have the same problem with my squat.


I may get shunned for saying this too, but if you want to build core strength, lose the belt. I didn't start using a belt until I could squat 405 X 5. I personally feel using a belt makes you weaker, but that's just based on my own experience.

I won't let my son use a belt yet either.

Take it for what it's worth....


Looks like a good ol' squat to me. But if she need some core strength, I hear squats can help with that.


And it works for you. For me, I belt up on my 135. It really does little other than the feeling I get, when my belt goes on, I know I'm in the gym. It is all psychological but it gets me in the right mindset.


Form wise your problem is pretty simple - you let yourself get forward at parallel and as you ascend you let your butt come up and even shoot backward to engage your hammies, yet still keep your torso forward. If you freeze frame it to that point you can really see how horizontal you are to the floor.The fact that your shoot your knees WAY forward doesn't help.

Your finish then becomes a good morning - a pretty fast and impressive one at that. Here are a few things that might help. When you unrack the bar and get set to start your descent you are leaning slightly forward. Try to get more upright. Then think about initiating the downward motion with butt back but torso completely up and down. Then sit between your knees keeping the butt back and spread your knees HARD on the way down.

On the way up lead with your head up and chest forward. Make sure that your knees stay mid foot and behind and that your torso doesn't shift forward too much. Practice a lot with just the bar and slowly work up. For YOU box squatting westside style would be a good idea and no your stance doesn't have to be wide like them - just use your comp stance. Long story short.... you seem to know what your are doing wrong... focus on lighter weights and perfect form....it looks like that is most of the problem.


So here are a few different videos. In these first 2 I tried to do a couple of different things. They were also after heavy front squats so I used a weight that isn't normally challenging but I was a bit pre-fatigued:

-Shove my knees out more

-Tried to follow some of the advice from this video: http://thespotathletics.com/2013/09/friday-technique-overview-setting-up-for-the-squat/
Mostly in trying to make sure I am not leaning forward at the start and keeping my hips under me.

-Tried to stay more upright, even placed the bar a tad higher...didn't seem to have the intended effect though haha.

-No belt as requested.

Bonus bro curls in the background.

You can still see that my elbows are very far behind me. I am trying to tuck them under more, but that's basically as far as they go. I am also pulling the bar down, so my back (I think, anyway) is tight.

For more reps, here is a video of 135x20

Thank you for all of the replies everyone. I appreciate the advice and I will try to implement what I can.


As bilski mentioned, your squats become something of a good-morning as you do more reps.

Try doing paused squats with a weight that you're comfortable doing 5+ reps with. Focus on keeping your chest up at all times. At the very least, it should help you identify how it should feel and you can recognize if your form is breaking down with heavier weights.


I think I see a little softness at the bottom and I'm still thinking it isn't optimal to dive into the hole quite the way you do. For powerlifting, anyway. I'm not entirely sure what to say... Your squats seem to me an awful lot like my squats. I do want to say that they don't look as strong as they could be... But maybe that is just because we aren't built like big fat powerlifters so our squat will never look as stiff / strong.

I still think something about the tempo is wrong.

Know how (was it Wendler?) has stuff on 'pulling the bar towards you' using your triceps when you bench press?
Well... Pull your knees towards you using your hip flexors when you squat. Control the descent. Slow and controlled 3 second descent. Pause really 'sitting into' the hip flexors (no softness at the bottom). Then... The hardest bit. Power up hard with glutes (chest up.

This is what I've been trying... I don't know that it is what is right for you, though. Interested to hear what others (far more knowledgeable than myself) have to say.