T Nation

Squat Form Help


Hey all,

Still very new to structured, big lifting, and I've hit quite a snag.

I've been squatting for a while, but never thought much about it. I knew I kept my back arched, didn't let my knees drift in while pushing up, so I thought I was fine. However, after watching some videos, and paying close attention to my form in the mirror, I think I've got a problem.

I realize it would look better in a gym, but I'm just using what I had at the moment to post the video.

My biggest problem is that I feel like I can't go any lower in my squat without rounding my back. I also feel like if I lean back any further to attempt to be more "compact" and get my thighs at a 90 degree angle, I will fall backwards (the third rep in the video shows this)

What in the world do I need to do to fix this nightmare of a squat? Is it a flexibility issue?

Or am I over compensating in the "arch of your lower back" issue? I have some lower back issues, and therefore do my best to avoid injuring myself.

I'm just over 6'0 tall, and a weak 164 (lol). I'm working on that part of it, but right now I need to fix this.

Going back over and watching the video, I think I usually go a little deeper when there is weight on the bar, but it's definitely not a full squat in the gym

Thanks for any advice.


It's that bad huh? Several views with no advice?


Start strengthening your posterior chain immediately. You cant even squat down with a broomstick on your back.


Take a look at the third world squat article.
Also, try doing goblet squats and front squats.


wow, the third world squat article is depressingly accurate with my problem, thanks for the link

isn't the "third-world squat" actually what a correct deep squat looks like? And a parallel squat would be just slightly above that? Or am I mis-reading the article?


Yes, the third world squat is a full squat, where your hamstrings come in contact with your calves. A parallel squat has the crease at your hips come down to the level of your knees.

Watch this:


full squats will not be comfortable at first

go lighter if you have to

dont round your back, dont lean forward too much

also, try front squats. may help correct improper form. also better for quad recruitment


In my opinion you are actually trying to arch your back too much, and when you sit straight back like that you're just pushing your shoulders forward and turning it into some kind of bastardized good-morning.

I don't recommend you try to sit straight back in a squat unless you want to go low-bar, and widen your stance to do a powerlifting-style squat. Otherwise the leverage you gain from sitting back will be either pointless or extremely uncomfortable.

With the high bar, thigh-building style of squatting you want to be sitting straight down, between the legs, rather than sticking your butt out behind you. You just need to make sure you're mainting a straight lower back.

Here is a good example for you:

Notice how he goes straight up and down, and how he isn't sitting BACK at all, but rather he is bringing his hips down in straight line towards his heels. He is also using 100% range of motion, which isn't completely necessary, but it's not a bad thing either.

Here is an example of what I consider to be perfect squats:


^ Thanks for the input

I just can't seem to sit straight down, and I think that's where the third world squat comes into play for me. When I attempt to just "sit" into the position, right before half way I begin to tip over and lose my balance backwards.

I'm going to work on doing those daily, take squats out of my workout program (for now), and just work on being able to asian squat.

I feel too old to have to start all over again when it comes to squats. I only wish I would have worked out in high school/college


Here is a link for some hip and ankle mobility exercises:



stretch your calves
work on hip mobility and stability
work those abs

its hard to believe you've been squatting for awhile.

one thing ill say is that i have an easier time squatting when there is actual weight on my back.


put weight on the bar, widen your stance a little bit, point your feet out a little.
The added weight will force you to go down instead when sitting back.

When beginners try to squat without weight before squatting they sit back too much and get a feeling like they will fall backwards, which causes their back to overarch and try to stop half way down.

Pick a weight that will allow you to go all the way down, but not too heavy as a workout. Do it until you get the squat right. Tense your back don't over arch it, keep y our head in a neutral position.

Or do an overhead squat to the bottom, widen yoru stance until you can get it. once you get down there you'll get a feel for it and can start to move your legs in.


Sit on a soccer ball with your feet in your squatting position. Sit there with a straight back and watch TV for an hour.



When you start to go past parallel, unlock your hips like your going to sit in a toilet. From there, go deeper and don't let your knees pass the the front of your toes.

I would post a picture of a caveman perfectly squatting to crush a coconut, but it won't let me right now. Very disappointing.


Is this "caveman" a personal friend of yours? Are you saying that the camera was actually invented by a caveman?
I know that sometimes when I squat deep I crush a coconut. Sometimes even 2 coconuts. Gotta be more careful.



While i'm working on the TWS, should I continue with my normal workout routine (just finishing up Starting Strength, about to start on a new 5x5 program) and replace squats with either front squats or goblet squats? Or is there a "mobility" and "flexibility" workout scheme I should follow for a while until I'm able?

Also, while I'm sitting low in the squats, I'm still feeling it a good bit in my quads, is this because I'm so (obviously) unbalanced and just need to train my muscles to react correctly to a proper squat?


Airtruth wrote: put weight on the bar, widen your stance a little bit, point your feet out a little.

I agree with this. The balls of your feet should be as wide as the outside of your shoulders. Point your feet out to 30 degrees. As you descend make should you keep your knees pointed in the same direction as your feet.

When I started squatting I had the same 'problems' as you, and they all went away when I widened my stance. Everyone above has given you good advice, but I think their overcomplicating it. Just widen your stance and point your toes out more. It will do wonders for your depth.


Whoever said Goblet Squats was right on. Focus on them for a while.

I really think the key to getting better at squatting is doing it...a lot. That doesn't mean squatting three times a week in the gym(that does help, though), it means cranking out a set of bodyweight or broomstick squats while you're laying around watching TV a few times a day.

After you get great at goblet squats (which will teach your the form Mr. Popular is talking about) I'd try some broom stick overhead squats, or move to front squats.

After you've mastered those, then move to back squats. Use a box if you want to learn how to sit back. This is what I did to really learn to squat.


ouch, the form looks a 'little' off mate. doing the third world squats might help you from getting stuck.

Maybe also, ask a personal trainer to go through them with ya at the gym?! so long as the trainer isnt a 120 pound guy who doesnt know what there talking about.. (as i had happen to me)


I'd be careful about that, it's hard to find a commercial gym trainer you can trust. Most of the time they give you advice that they'd normally give to 50 year old women who have never had any gym experience. Also, they wouldn't want you to get "hurt" so you could potentially sue them.

If you go to a commercial gym, I would ask a guy that you've seen squat with good form. Preferably one who is huge and doesn't talk on his cell phone, or his friends, or some random girls, etc.