T Nation

Squat Help/Question


Hey everyone

I just want to ask something: I can't squat ATG, and when I use heel elevation for parallel squatting, I feel a kind of stretch in my hamstrings.
I've "solved" this problem by doing squats like this: I squat on to a bench (box squats essentially), BUT I've found that "putting my ass back" is uncomfortable to me. Thus when I squat, I just look at myself ("into my eyes" in the mirror". I don't feel any pain doing so, and I really feel my quadriceps. Is this an OK way to squat?

The two parts of this question I would like to get an answer to are:
1) Is it okay to do box squats, gradually building up one's squat depth as time goes by?
2) Is it okay to do squats, not leaning back "with the ass" but instead squat while looking at yourself ("into my eyes") in the mirror?

Thank you!


1) My personal experience both with myself and teaching others to squat is that the box squat is not all that important to learning how to squat. Don't get me wrong-- box squats have their place, but in a lot of ways it can actually hinder someone's natural line of movement in the exercise and sort of ingrain a motor pattern that might not necessarily be ideal for them. Especially, in the absence of a coach.

I feel like the best thing one can do is to squat a fairly long time (as in months) with relatively light weights reinforcing ideal motor patterns, flexibility, and mobility. For most, the squat is a difficult exercise to learn since most lose their natural squatting ability through normal adult life.

So, to answer your question: Yes it is okay, however, I personally believe much more can be gained through an abundance of repetition in the pattern that you ultimately want to perform in. It literally takes hours and hours of training your mind and body to become proficient at squatting.

2) I feel that most people should attempt to sit between their heels rather than "sit back." Of course, bar placement is a huge factor in this as well as the build of the person's body. I've read and experimented quite a bit on head angle and where to look-- honestly, just find what works for you.

As long as you are not rotating your chin towards your chest and you are keeping your neck more neutral to "up" (hyperextension), I don't think there should be a problem.

I hope that helps some.


It's one way to do it. Lifting is enabling, not limiting. You're lifting to reach your goals, nobody else's, so do what works for you. There's no "rights" or "wrongs"... there's things that take you closer to your goals, things that don't, and things that cause injury...

That said, you can use box squats and build your depth with it. The problem is that most people are strongest at the top, so as you get deeper, you seem to get weaker. You'll have to be careful with how you progress.

If your goals are physique related, and you're looking to use squats for that, many people recommend deeper high-bar squats. If your goals are powerlifting related (not "strength related", you get stronger both ways), then getting comfortable with a low-bar squat just to parallel is the usual path; this sometimes involves box squatting.

There's many other ways to do this too.

I personally think both of those are bad ideas, since I think neither really help teach you where your body is strongest, and you lose some of the ability to feel where everything is positioned in space. But that's just my opinion.

I think a mix of heavy bottoms-up squats from various heights, combined with some very slow motion free squats, along with goblet squats, all done with the intent of remaining stable, balanced, and feeling strong... I think those will do a lot more for teaching yourself where your strengths and weaknesses are.

Ultimately you're going to have to find out what works for you. Coaching cues are just a guide.


Also, it's really nice to see a thread by you that's not about bench pressing.


LoRez and to the other poster: thanks for your replies!

LoRez: You do realize it's been a while since I posted? Also, it wasn't - I think - about benching either. But fuck the self-defense, no offense.
Let's just let that topic fade away. :stuck_out_tongue:


I am glad to see you working on your squat.

I am a self-taught squatter, so it took me some time to figure the movement out. Don't give up on it. Keep squatting, keep working on improving your squat and listen to your body's feedback.

In the meantime, I think you would be best-served by taking a video and posting a form check thread. I posted one last week. I've been squatting for almost a year and I still have much to work on. You can see me squatting in a recent form check thread in the powerlifting forum.

Keep it simple, keep working on improving and keep the focus on the big basics. The Gironda press is not going anywhere.