T Nation

Squat Help

Whenever I squat, I squat down, then come up with my torso bent over. So I am bent over and my legs do the first part of the lift, then my abs straighten out the last part of the lift. What is my problem? I am guessing that some are going to say weak back, which may be correct, but I thought my back and abs were somewhat decent as they do lift the latter part of the lift. Even at lighter loads I bend when I squat. Does this mean I need to just squat more and get better form or what? Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks.

My first instinct says weak back, but since you insist it’s not, then it sound like a technique issue.

You need to lead the lift with your head. Keep your head and chest up and shoulders driven back into the bar. This will help keep you upright.

Also your back is probably weak,
Toddy

find someone in your area that knows how to squat well hand have them show you what you’re doing wrong…and what you should be doing instead…

it’s very difficult to tell you exactly where you’re going wrong without being able to watch you lift.

good luck.

Try stretching your hip flexors before you squat.

Hope that helps.

Chances are, your lower back is weaker than your legs. Work good mornings and deadlifts, and to straighten out your form, try low box squats or speed squats starting from the bottom (use a light weight and work on form). I had a similar problem and these worked pretty well for me, especially the box squats. Another good indication that its your lower would be if your hips are rising faster than the rest of you when you deadlift.

I squatted 225 plus with poor form, but I knew I couldn’t progress more if I didn’t clean up my form. I swallowed my ego and asked for help from a big mofo russian powerlifter who watched my form and corrected me on it.

It was fairly obvious to anyone watching that I was pushing from my feet instead of my heels and would soon topple right over with more weight. I dropped the weight back to one plate and learned correct form with this guy. I honestly thought I squatted deep going to parallel, but this guy is a fan of squatting ass to floor. Ass to floor seems to work a whole lot better than parallel - but it does give you a big touche (oh well - supposedly chicks like hard round butts so its all good).

I have been doing ass to floor once a week on saturdays with Yfgeny (sp?) and my legs seems to be responding with great enthusiasm even with lower weights than I was using before. I have worked up to 195 again, using 5x5 with sub 90 secs rest between sets. The higher volume training seems to be working but its only been a month.

Two things i have learned: Legs can take a much longer beating and must be worked with different angles than any other body part.

Get someone to correct your form and swallow your pride. There is nothing like having a knowledgable individual watch and correct you so that you can not just practice, but perfect practice. You intuitively know that going ass to floor will stimulate more muscle fibers than any other type, but almost everyone I see in my gym just loads plates and quarter squats.

I honestly thought I was doing at least better than most since, a.) I was squatting b.) at least I went to parallel; turns out I was missing most of the benefit of the exercise by not pushing from the right part of the body and not going below parallel.

yes the post is over -
good luck

sounds like weak posterior chain, especially hams and glutes.

you are relying on your quads too much.
Good mornings, stiff leg dead lifts, Glute ham raises to build posterior chain strength.
Then keep a tight arch and pull your elbows down as you start up.

a wider stance will help engage your hips and posterior chain more.

You guys are probably right about my low back being weak. Today I went in to just do some high rep/low weight squats (it was an off day) to work on conditioning and check my form. Even with 95lbs, after so many reps my form turns to shit.

Another thing is that my deadlift is much better than my squat. My best deadlift is 385, while my best squat was a missed 300 and I barely missed it because I was bent over on the last part of the lift. I think I just need to squat more period because I get so worn out on reps for squats. I warm up with 225 on the deadlift but 225 on squats is hard work.

And thanks for the replies.

The fact that you are bent over screams weak abs as well as back. Your core muscles are responsible for holding you upright during the lift. That incluides your abs. Try adding weighted ab excercies to your training as well as some arched back GMs and Dimel DLs.

Definately take the advice of driving your shoulders into the bar. Also, make sure that you take your time during your set up and stay tight throughout the lift. If you get loose at all during the lift your form will go to shit for sure.

Before adressing relative muscle weaknesses we need to know:

1.) how tall are you?
2.) how wide of a stance do you take?
3.) where do you position the bar? (high on your traps, lower - powerlifting style)

beef

What are some of the better weighted ab exercises that would help my squat? Also, should I squat more often, ie on off days or extra workouts just for practice on technique?

On another note, I have been having trouble with my foot placement. A while back I started going wider, as too narrow was hurting my knees. But wider for me probably isn’t that wide for most of the powerlifters on here. My problem is if I go wide, I can’t go very low, plus I must have some sort of hip flexion problem because super wide is super awkward for me. So just recently I went back to slightly more narrow stance with my feet or toes pointing outward. Does this give away anything?

  1. 5’9’’
  2. medium to wide stance (not Dave Tate super wide)
  3. bar high on traps

[quote]TravisCS84 wrote:

  1. 5’9’’
  2. medium to wide stance (not Dave Tate super wide)
  3. bar high on traps[/quote]

Place the bar much lower!! Across your rear delts, under ur traps. This will help you a ton by creating better leverages and help keep u upright.

[quote]TTewell342 wrote:
TravisCS84 wrote:

  1. 5’9’’
  2. medium to wide stance (not Dave Tate super wide)
  3. bar high on traps

Place the bar much lower!! Across your rear delts, under ur traps. This will help you a ton by creating better leverages and help keep u upright.[/quote]

I have problems getting the bar lower as well. feels like it will fall off my skrawny back. I’d suggest sticking with the lower weights for a while. Practice wide and narrow stance and stretch.

The way I squat is:

1.) Medium stanced: if I draw a perpendicular from the ground to my shoulder my knees are in that line.

2.) Toes out: my toes are slightly less than 45 degrees in.

3.) Low bar: The bar is low on my back. It sits on my rear delts.

4.) Close hand spacing: I use a thumbless grip. My hands are close to the point where my bicep is jammed against my forarm and my tricep is jammed against my lat. The weight of the bar causes the muscle group to be squeezed together, so it requires little to no muscular effort to keep the bar in place.

5.) Chest out: I keep my chest out to promote the spines lordotic curve.

6.) Sit back: when I squat I focus on sitting back. My knees follow in the direction of my toes but I focus on poking my butt back to keep the weight on my heels. Your hip joint is your bending point NOT your lower back.

Sometimes when the weight gets heavy, my form deteriorates, but that is the nature of heavy weight.

beef

Seems like it’s likely weak back and abs as said. Weighted ab excercies, hanging pikes, and back extensions would seem to be in order. What’s the squatting like when you lower the weight? You could be using more than you can handle and trying to compensate with bad form.

Two things:
One - Thanks for this thread, I read it right before I went to the gym for a heavy legs day. Once there I was able to fix one of my own squat issues.

Two - Based on the expereince I just had, here is my thoughts. I think you are doing the same thing I was. Set the bar along the top up your shoulder blades. KEep your body upight and very tight. As you go down keep your head up and keep your hips under your spine. Hold this at the bottom and on the way up.

THE PROBLEM comes when you feel your hips slide back and up. They are no longer under your back and no longer supporting it. This is when you double over and lose a huge amount of power. You can actually feel this happen and you can almost feel your body lose strength and tightness. This is also where you injure your back.

If you focus on keeping your body tight and upright your sqaut will improve instantly. I maxed out at 395 today as opposed to 355 on my previous attempt ONLY ONE WEEK AGO!

Good luck and I hope this helps.

Starkmann

What most people are referring to as a “weak back” is most likely not true - certainly not relative to the load you are lifting. As you mentioned, your back has no trouble performing the second part of the lift. After the legs initiate the lift, the muscles of the back are actually under more stress due to the greater (more horizontal) angle of the torso.

I see this all the time, and the primary cause is poor core strength/activation. By core, I mean transversus abdominus, pelvic floor and diaphragm.

The remedy:

  1. Discard your weight belt if you use one. It takes the place of your muscles and promotes bad habits.

  2. Lighten the load temporarily, so that you can focus on developing the strength and activation of the core.

  3. Slow down the speed of your movement. Greater speed translates to greater load.

  4. Employ the valsalva manoeuvre. Breathe in on the way down (I bet you never had trouble keeping your position on the way down), hold your breath at the bottom while bracing the abdominals powerfully, force yourself upward slowly whilst forcing your breath out through pursed lips.

It takes a bit of practice, but with time, you’ll find you can keep your position. The key is developing enough pressure in the abdominal region.

Good luck!

What’s all this about weak abs and squats? Your abs do not straighten your back. They curl your back. Your back erectors straighten your back. When doing squats, your erectors should be isometrically holding your back straight. Your glutes, ST, and BF are straightening your hip joint.

weak abs and squat.

If you lean forward, when you are in the bottom of the squat, your abs are weak. Do heavy ab-work.