T Nation

Squat Form is Crap

I have a problem with heavy squats. My max deadlift is 505, but I can’t break 300lbs for squat. Yesterday, I had a fellow lifter watch my form.

This is what he found:

  • I am going below parallel - Good
  • I am leaning forward too much - Bad
  • My back does not maintain a solid arch - Bad
  • I twist slightly when pushing up - Bad
  • I’m not sitting back in the lift - Bad

The last one may be the cause of many other problems.

Time for box squats?

On deadlifts, my weak point is at lockout. Does all this indicate weak hammy’s?

[quote]Z-Man wrote:
I have a problem with heavy squats. My max deadlift is 505, but I can’t break 300lbs for squat. Yesterday, I had a fellow lifter watch my form.

This is what he found:

  • I am going below parallel - Good
  • I am leaning forward too much - Bad
  • My back does not maintain a solid arch - Bad
  • I twist slightly when pushing up - Bad
  • I’m not sitting back in the lift - Bad

The last one may be the cause of many other problems.

Time for box squats?

On deadlifts, my weak point is at lockout. Does all this indicate weak hammy’s?
[/quote]

It seems to indicate weak quads. The more you lean forward, the more you put the stress on the hams and glutes.

If you keep yourself very upright and the bar high on your shoulders, you generally isolate more quads that way.

Perhaps try rotating in some front squats or even heavy leg extensions.

Where is the problem at lockout. Can’t lockout the knees or the hips?

I’m going to guess glutes not firing correctly. Do you have chronically tight hamstrings?

TNT

[quote]TNT-CDN wrote:
Where is the problem at lockout. Can’t lockout the knees or the hips?

I’m going to guess glutes not firing correctly. Do you have chronically tight hamstrings?

TNT[/quote]

I agree and tend to thing its a glute hip firing prob as well as not keeping upper back thgh pulling the had back etc.

That and weak abdominals. I was folding over into a GM hit the abs hard and heavy for a bit and it made me not rely on the strong lower back and stayed upright more.

where are you failing??

Yes box squats wont hurt.

Phill

I’m not failing per se, I haven’t actually tried a max for some time. But what happens when I’m going heavier is that my legs are straight but my back is still slightly bent, so I’m finishing like the last part of a GM on my squat.

I also tend to lean too far forward on the bottom, requiring extra effort from my back.
On my DL, I’m failing lockout at the hips, not the knees.

If you’re pulling 505 and only squatting 300, I would definitely think it is a technique issue. Now way you aren’t strong enough to squat more than that.

I would start doing box squats with lighter weight (50-60% range) with the focus being on technique. Focus on all the things your supposed to do. Arch your back, sit back, don’t drop onto the box, head into the bar, stay tight, etc. With lighter weight this shouldn’t be a problem.

When I first started training for powerlifting I had been free squatting for a while with terrible form. As soon as I started box squatting my form improved dramatically. By just focusing on doing it right, and not worrying so much about speed or strength, I made big gains.

How is it possible to lean too far forwards without sitting back?

[quote]vision1 wrote:
How is it possible to lean too far forwards without sitting back?[/quote]

If he is not keeping his lower back arched, then his upper torso will be leaning forward, even if he isn’t sitting back. I’ve had this problem.

[quote]wressler125 wrote:
vision1 wrote:
How is it possible to lean too far forwards without sitting back?

If he is not keeping his lower back arched, then his upper torso will be leaning forward, even if he isn’t sitting back. I’ve had this problem.
[/quote]

This is exactly what is happening. I know it’s form related, because I’m not nearly as tired form squats as I should be.

This kind of sounds like myself when it comes to squatting. My deadlift is a lot higher than my squat, and it is mostly because of the biomechanics behind the lift, long arms and long legs compared to a short back, which causes a lot of forward lean. Practice squatting a lot, 3-4 times a week.

I have the same problem. My squat is 100# lower than my deadlift.

I have basically given up on back squats and only do full cleans, zercher squats, and hack squats from the rack.

For me, it’s an issue of biomechanics. I can’t even do an ATG squat with feet 12" apart without any weight at all… I have to hold on to something to do that.

If I do back squats, I need a super wide stance. It’s just the way my hip joints are built, and the fact that I have really long legs and a short torso.

Deadlifting feels fantastic.

First, you need to gain weight if you wanna squat BIG weights.

If you cant sq 300, you are weak everywhere. Just because you pull 5 doesn’t mean you have a strong back; it sounds like you have a weak back for squatting since you cant hold an arch. So be sure to sq heavy, do lots of GMs, upper back, abs.

Besides gaining weight find a group of strong squatters to train with. This will do more than anything else for your lifts.

I think you may have tight hip flexors. This would be the cause of your poor lockout on your deadlift; your glutes aren’t firing because of the tight hip flexors. And on the squat you mentioned you go below parallel. What happens when you have tight hip flexors and you try to squat real low is that you get into a sort of “tail under” position where your lower back rounds. When you try to come back up you’ve already lost your arch.

It sounds to me as if you may have mobility issues as well as weaknesses. Probably around your hips and ankles. If you want a comprehensive assessment post a video!

[quote]GT625 wrote:
I think you may have tight hip flexors. This would be the cause of your poor lockout on your deadlift; your glutes aren’t firing because of the tight hip flexors. And on the squat you mentioned you go below parallel. What happens when you have tight hip flexors and you try to squat real low is that you get into a sort of “tail under” position where your lower back rounds. When you try to come back up you’ve already lost your arch.[/quote]

This appears to describe the problem I’m running into.

Should I be concentrating on front-squat and box squat to fix this issue?

[quote]Z-Man wrote:
wressler125 wrote:
vision1 wrote:
How is it possible to lean too far forwards without sitting back?

If he is not keeping his lower back arched, then his upper torso will be leaning forward, even if he isn’t sitting back. I’ve had this problem.

This is exactly what is happening. I know it’s form related, because I’m not nearly as tired form squats as I should be.[/quote]

Well then the best thing I’ve done was seriously work on my mobility. I’ve worked the crap out of my hip flexors and adductors, as well as glutes and the rest of my lower body.

I agree with working on the hip flexors etc but still think weak abs compared to low back as well. Odd as hell but I was doing the same thing and it was my body leaning as it will on the strong point, my low back at the time.

I concentrated onm getting ab strength up and I stayed upright didnt tend to GM the heavy lifts.

Phill

Here are a few tips then that you may find useful:

  1. Soft tissue work. Try foam rolling the ITB, Hip flexors, Quads hamstrings and calves. Also foam roll your spine but avoid the lumbar region (do this before each training session)

  2. Perform dynamic warm ups focusing on lunge type movements - forward, backward and side.

  3. Glute activation - bridges, single leg bridges, x band walks, hip extensions, pullthroughs. These can be performed daily.

  4. Core strength work. Focus on static exercises where you have to stabilize such as pillar briges /planks do both standard version and side versions. Ab exercises wherein you crunch arent so good.

  5. Practise squatting daily without weight. This is to regroove the exercise. Squatting is a skill much like any other sport, therefore to perfect the technique practise it.

  6. Address your set up. Place the bar quite low on your traps if you prefer, push your chest up and out, keep hands close together and pull the bar down across your back. Make big air - brace your stomache as if you are about to get hit and maintain it throughout your sets.

  7. Strengthen your scapula and rhomboids - retractions and protractions will help you maintain correct positioning.

  8. Exercises such as good mornings, good morning squats, zerchers (squats and lunges), front squats (standard and box versions), O.H squats and kettlebells may help.

Good luck

I appreciate all the advice guys, I have a pretty good idea where to start looking now.
Thanks