T Nation

Squat Problems


Am I doomed to be a lameass forever and not squat?

Well I just got back from the gym, and while lately it's been a great feeling today was NOT. Last week I finally worked back up to my all time best on the squat of 175 for 5 reps across 3 sets. Monday the gym was closed for Labor Day and so Wednesday I had my first attempt at 180. Went like this 5,4,4 and I honestly probably could have busted ass and got 5 across but there was a strong chance I would have had to drop the weight.

Today I go into the gym expecting to nail it and during my warm up I start to feel like I've been cutting my work sets short of depth. So I make damn sure I hit depth and it looks like 3,2,2 and both of my elbows feel like they're on fire. I've been wondering if because I'm sick my body isn't recovering from workout to workout. I've noticed soreness in my hams the last week that was never there before either.

I guess I'm just looking for some insight. Whenever the weight starts to get really heavy my form breaks down because I've never had any formal weight training. I study Starting Strength the book at least 3-4 times a week around workouts to evaluate and reinforce the concepts. I feel like I'll never have excellent form without training so it's almost not worth squatting.


It's never not worth squatting! If your forms breaking down to the point of joint pain/injury (knees caving in, lumbar rounding) then drop the weight a bit until you can hit your sets with good form and work back up from there.

Keep eating and sleeping. And good luck!


look up the series so you think you can squat on youtube. it talks a bit about finding weak points in the squat and how to fix them.

also this series:EliteFTS Development of Maximal Strength, at least the first few vids talk about squats and weak point training as well.


You don't need perfect form to get the benefits of squatting (though you should always try to improve), you just need to not get injured. If you are questioning yourself to that extent, you should definitely lower the weight and if possible record a video so that some people can take a look at your form

Also, if you don't feel totally bound to starting strength, you should consider doing some higher rep sets... like 8-15. Frankly that seems more safe and effective for a beginner, especially if noone is checking your form. You will still be able to progress in weight just as quickly with the added benefit of being able to control the weight... I don't have a safety rack so I've never done sets below 5 reps, usually a good deal higher. Hasn't stopped me from progressing from low 100s to over 300.


take vids of yourself. post them to T-Nation. get some feedback and maybe peace of mind.


taking videos is a great alternative.

Don't get fixated by the poundage on the bar, form is of utmost importance in order not to injury yourself and reap the rewards.


Eat more so that you're gaining weight and a higher frequency program that has you squatting multiple times per week (which it sounds like you're doing) will help you to eventually learn correct form for your structure (hopefully) through practice of the movement pattern.


I was back in the gym today although it was short lived because of being discouraged. I reviewed Starting Strength to enhance my understanding of squat technique and I'm pretty sure the lumbar region rounding at the bottom is my issue, along with the hip drive(I stall coming out of the hole). I was checking my form from the side using a mirror and about 5ish inches before parallel my butt rounds, without weight and still after a warm up.

It just seems impossible to get this crap right without someone who knows what's going on watching your form. On top of it all, my elbows are starting to hurt from squatting and my bench has stalled and it now hurts my rear deltoids. I'm ready to throw in the towel and go back to using dummy proof DB exercises.


take vids. then you can get feedback from people right here. in some ways it isn't as good as coaching... because the feedback is a bit delayed and you will need to sort through sometimes contradictory advice... but in some ways it is better than coaching... because the feedback comes from a diverse range of people.

squats aren't easy. that is why it is impressive to see people squatting the big weights properly. in order to get there they needed to do a lot of work on form, persevere, and of course the time will come when it is time to shut the fuck up and squat!

can you feel when you start to lose your lumbar arch on your descent?


Make sure that you're pushing your knees out as you descend and lean slightly forward while keeping your chest out/up. This is more of a powerlifting style, but along with a slightly wide stance works well for me. If I don't force my knees out and lean slightly forward, I go into a "tail under" position as well.

I would also suggest to simply continue to squat frequently and go as deep as you can go without going into a tail under position. You don't HAVE to go atg or past parallel...especially just starting out and learning the movement.