T Nation

Squat Form Help


#1

I am trying to replicate the generic power squat technique a la Starting Strength (not necessarily powerlifter style).

My Concerns:
1) Depth. It looks about parallel (to me), but perhaps I could stand to go another inch or two deeper on each rep?
2) The bounce out of the hole sometimes results in my knees shifting forward for a split second as well as my back angle momentarily changing. Is this indicative of relaxation at the bottom rather than proper use of the stretch reflex off of the hamstrings? Is a more controlled descent in order?

I realize that it is hard to judge form when the weight is light. I can record a heavier set later in the week if that would be more helpful.

Thanks in advance for any advice,
Izzy


#2

www.dieselcrew.com/articles-pdf/cleaningupthesquat.pdf

This should just about cover it. With this you can self diagnose and correct. Obviously, using a 5 rep max weight to determine technique problems will be much more beneficial.


#3

Thanks man. Though I am not necessarily going for a PLer type squat so the extremely wide stance is not applicable. As far as my head being up, in Starting Strength, Rippetoe explicitly discourages this because he believes head up often dilutes hip drive. It may very well be that I need to experiment with my head up (which is how I squatted prior to reading SS).

The problems mentioned in the article I am already familiar with for the most part. My OP is my attempt at self-diagnosis. If it is wrong and/or I am missing anything, I'd love any help that anyone can offer.

Thanks again,
Izzy


#4

Yeah, I wouldn't advocate the looking down to 'initiate hip drive' as he calls it. Looking straight ahead and concentrating on keeping the chest up and back tight is what I would like to see you do.

Trying to spread the floor by pushing out the knees and feet, especially out of the hole will do much more to activate the hips than looking down IMO.

And Yeah it wouldn't hurt if you slowed down the eccentric part of the lift a bit as well to not bounce at the bottom.

Also I think you should concentrate on sitting back (later on in the set it is starting to look like you lean forward more and this is probably what's gonna happen if you go 80% max or more as well). You can really consider the parallel box squat for a while or as supplementary-it works wonders for hip drive and teaches you to properly sit back in the squat.

I know you don't want to power squat but there is still a lot of very valuable information to be learned from it as described in that article.


#5

I will definitely keep my head up on my next heavy set and see what kind of effects it has on helping me with my back angles. I have been making an effort to shove out my knees, but the "spread the floor" cue is new to me and I think an increased focus on knees/feet out will help to eliminate some of the knee movement I've been having.

If those cues don't get things fixed, I will look into adding box squats for some technique work.

I hope I didn't give you the interpretation that I didn't find the piece you linked very helpful.

Thanks again grinder, I appreciate it.


#6

Sure thing man.

PS: It's not so much as keeping the head up than keeping the back tight and chest up-this will most probably CAUSE you to keep your head up naturally. It's just a mindset that I would like you to have. Good luck squatting and put up those 5 rep max vids when you record them. The squat is a neverending form check battle the better you get at it and you will most probably fine tune it for the rest of your life...


#7

I got some tape of my squats at weights closer to my 5RM today. I increased my focus on keeping my chest up and lower back tight. I think the depth problems are fixed. I may need to increase my flexibility more before I can hit the proper depth without that tiny forward knee movement as I switch from descent to ascent.

I was aware of the knee drift and that is why I took a front angle. I was trying, at least somewhat, to fight the knees from coming in. I think that is obvious from the video, but it looks like I will have to really zone in on this aspect next time I squat.

Any form help is really appreciated.
Thanks,
Izzy


#8

Those knee drifts are terrible :slight_smile:

I still think box squats where you stay tight through the entire squat (thus no rocking on the box) and still doing a dead stop on the box, then driving up with spreading the floor and knees out for a while, will be the best thing at this stage to firstly learn you to sit back properly and secondly to teach you to fire from the hips and glutes out of the hole.

Another tip will be do not push from the balls of your feet but from the heels and outsides of the feet, which is what I meant by spreading the floor. Having the knees cave in like that is certainly heavy on knee ligaments and is usually a sign of weak hips or even just a problem with not being able to activate the hips/glutes-the latter is what box squats will help you with most.

I would thus like to see your centrepoint of gravity shift backwards causing a more upright body position and less drifting of the knees. This is as far as I can help you now-the rest needs to by practiced and practiced and then repeated.


#9

I am going to try and add some box squats into the heavier parts of my warm-up. I was actively thinking about pushing my knees out on some of the reps, but I think the cue about "pushing with the outside of the feet" will make a big difference. Once the weight had gotten heavier, I had forgotten about that because I was focusing on depth.

I can probably keep a more upright torso just by trying to do so. I wasn't even trying to do that because I didn't think of it as a fix. That would probably keep me from rocking up onto my toes near the bottom, which I apparently did a few times in the video. I thought the extreme sitting back, more upright torso, and near vertical shins were primarily products of trying to take advantage of a suit? If I stayed more upright, and changed the center of my gravity, wouldn't that take the bar path away from mid-foot?

Thanks again Grinder!

If anyone else notices anything, I'd love all the help I can get.


#10

A good tip for upright torso, is sort where your head is at. In you vids you're looking down alot. Marauder Meat on this site recommends buying a trucker cap and wearing it backwards and keeping the cap pat touching your traps throughout the squat.


#11

Your chest was lagging when it was heavier on the 3reps onwards imo. Just focus on keepng your chest UPRIGHT all the time. The hardest part if when your coming off the bottom to keep your chest up, the moment you don't focus on it, your chest drops a bit and your chips come up faster in a more 'good morning' fashion, it's not bad like a lot of squats I've seen but you can improve on that.

I like to think of sitting down between your ankles (Oly ATG) instead of back personally, weight is planted on the heels throughout.

Koing


#12

If you want legit advice for how to improve your squat ala Rippetoe's method post the video on his forum http://strengthmill.net/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=36 I wouldn't trust my squat form to a bunch of bozos on the internet. That being said I will throw in my own bozo advice. The point of the squat as outlined in Starting Strength is to build both the posterior chain and quads at the same time.

By doing box squats you are taking your quads contribute out of the squat. The main problem I saw with your squat was allowing your knees to collapse inward when you were driving up. This can be fixed simply by conscious effort. When squatting low-bar you don't want a vertical torso you just want to keep your chest up, which is accomplished by really keeping your elbows jammed back and up. But really just ask Rippetoe


#13

Alright, thanks. If I can't keep my knees fully out at a certain weight, would you advise to lower my heavier sets to weights that I can?

I definitely will ask Rip what I can do to improve eventually, but I wanted to fix any basic errors before posting there. The SS wiki makes it clear he doesn't have any interest in fixing the same common errors over and over.


#14

Hmm, okay. Thanks. I guess I will need to keep focusing on this aspect.


#15

Hey man, i would get some front angles too to better see your knees drifting, and to see arm positioning and bar positioning on your back.

I switched up to a narrow grip to really get my back tight. its helping out quite a bit.

Rip also mentions to think of a point in your lower back to drive up with, in theory this should not make your ass rise up too much, and this imaginary point should help you keep your ass down.

But yes, the other posts about chest drive, etc, are good tips also =)


#16

I posted a second video and there is a front angle at the very end if that helps.


#17

oh ok, i see.

yeah thats some intense knee tracking.

Remember too take BIG air in your belly, then tighten up.

A belt is a useful tool as well, as you can form a great support for your back.

I would possibly slow it down a bit, spread the floor, force your knees out, and sit back into it a little more.

But thats just the PLer in my speaking. =)

How long have you been squatting?


#18

Also, there should be no "relaxing" at the bottom of your squat, you stay as tight as you can the whole way through... build that tension!


#19

I've been low bar squatting for about two weeks. Total time under the bar is a few months.

Right now my list of things to really focus on looks like this:
1) Knees
Consciously think about spreading the floor and pushing my knees out throughout the entire motion instead of once I start out of the hole

2) Overall Tightness
I think there is too much relaxation overall. It isn't just one thing, I am, in general, just not tight enough. There is relaxation of my hammies to hit depth, which is why there is a very small forward knee slide if you look closely. On some of the reps, my hips clearly rise faster than everything else. There is also some relaxation in the low back from what I can see. With all of those tightness problems, I think it is just a general issue to address rather than specific things.

3) Flexibility
I need to increase my flexibility so I can hit depth without having to think about it. I think this will prevent me from letting things go a little loose at the bottom because I won't be worried about those last few inches of depth.