T Nation

Squat Technique 911!


#1

How many things can any experienced lifters find to improve my technique? I am new to powerlifting and wish to compete in the future. This is the first time viewing my own squat and I'll list the obvious. I'm a long limbed short, torso lifter.

a) not hitting parallel
b) knee's not pushed out
c) other lifters in my powerlifting gym noted I was in "high bar position" using low bar squat technique.

I'm planning to work box squats to work technique and hitting paralleland learn properlow bar position. Any other pointers are appreciated!


#2

My advice would be get tight. Get your back tight, pull those arms down by flexing your lats (pretend your squeezing a tennis ball in your armpit). Get and keep your abs tight. When you start the decent your stomach goes to mush and you over extend.

Really, it doesn’t look that bad. Just don’t rush, take your time to properly set up, then squat.


#3

Get your elbows under the bar, get your chest up and find some sense of back tightness. Don’t worry about a low bar or high bar technique right now. Also you are probably standing too wide right now and thats inhibiting you from hitting depth.


#4

Thanks for the responses guys. That video on the glute squeeze to set position was very helpful man! And I am still working on getting arms under, my rack seems so much more secure with elbows up. I have most trouble pushing hips back and keeping my core tight. Perhaps I need to look more down instead of up? Thanks for your help guys.


#5

[quote]cparker wrote:
Get your elbows under the bar, get your chest up and find some sense of back tightness. Don’t worry about a low bar or high bar technique right now. Also you are probably standing too wide right now and thats inhibiting you from hitting depth.[/quote]

This. You need to get those elbows at least a bit lower (elbows down/chest up tend to go hand in hand I’ve found). Your feet are definitely too wide for you right now - wide stance squatting takes a bunch of getting used to and makes hitting depth considerably harder. It may be a good way for you to squat later, but right now I would suggest moving your feet in to around shoulder width and working from there to see how you go.


#6

Thanks for the tips MarkKO!
I actually moved to a wider stance because it felt easier to break back with the hips and reach depth but all have stated that a narrower stance will allow me to achieve this to a greater capacity. Can anyone elaborate on why this is so? I figured a wider stance decreased distance but perhaps it inhibits a mobility function? Alas I will move my stance in and utilize the suggested adjustments. Thanks all


#7

[quote]flippyg wrote:
Thanks for the tips MarkKO!
I actually moved to a wider stance because it felt easier to break back with the hips and reach depth but all have stated that a narrower stance will allow me to achieve this to a greater capacity. Can anyone elaborate on why this is so? I figured a wider stance decreased distance but perhaps it inhibits a mobility function? Alas I will move my stance in and utilize the suggested adjustments. Thanks all[/quote]

My pleasure. Hope it helps.

I think with the break at the hips/pulling back idea, it is more a case of with a wide stance it is best to break this way, not a matter of ALWAYS needing to sit back and adjusting your stance to do this.

Going narrower will probably make it easier to break by going down (not back) with the hips and pushing the knees out, and you will most probably find it easier to hit depth this way. A wide stance does reduce the distance the bar travels but if you can’t hit depth that way, it pretty much defeats the purpose. In my own experience, wider stance squatting puts a lot more strain on the knees and hips while the narrower you go the easier it is on the hips (and the knees to a point, until they start to drift very far forward, which happens more with a narrow stance).

Your best bet is probably going to be 1) get tight; 2) pull your elbows forward and push your chest up; and 3) push your knees out and spread the floor apart with the outsides of your feet (heel to toe). Don’t worry too much about sitting back and instead focus on keeping your torso angle steady (how much you lean forward is up to you, choose what feels most comortable and lets the bar move up and down vertically) and not losing tightness as you go down while aggressively spreading the floor and opening your knees out.

As a general note, my understanding is that most raw squatters tend to do better with a medium or narrow stance. Personally, I do better with a wide stance, but then the back of my body is where I’m strongest. Even my front squat is relatively wide stance. You’ll need to experiment with what works best for you, but before you experiment just work on reliably hitting depth and improving technique in terms of tightness and bar path. When you’ve done that, then it will be time to figure out exactly how to squat best for you, although the chances are you’ll already have a fair idea by this time simply by virtue of having spent time working on your technique.


#8

Thanks again man. You share a true passion for lifting and in passing on your experience. My lower back dominates many of my lifts due to my stature (long limbed, short torso), thus my deadlift has and probably will always supersede my squat numbers. There are so many different methods/articles that one can get lost in finding the perfect rep. Of course, getting under the bar time and time again and making adjustments and feedback from others is crucial. There is so much that goes into a great squat that I could ask infinite plus questions about it, but I will definitely apply the techniques you all have shared.


#9

I’m just going on what better lifters than I have told me and what I’ve read and experienced myself. Don’t get too hung up on how your stature affects your lifting. It has an effect, but there’s a lot more at play. Here are some articles that may help, all by Dave Tate. I know he favours the wide squat, and you’re looking at moving yours in but there is still a TON of great information in there that should help you.

Hell, just from my own experience I find wide squatting works better, but I also know how tough it can be on the knees and hips at first. All that being said, everything in those articles will apply to medium or narrow stance squats too.


#10

I’ll give those ones a read


#11

Pull your shoulder blades down. That will help with getting your lats and chest tight. Pushing your elbows (and shoulder blades) up will help get your upper traps tight but at the expense of mid torso tightness, which is more important.


#12

Thanks lift 206.

Yeah i feel with elbows up, it’s much harder to tighten the stomach, yet the bar feels much more secure. I’ve been practicing squats a lot, with broomsticks, empty barbell and such to get used to this position (elbows down, chest high). Thanks again guys


#13

No problem. Just remember that your elbows don’t necessarily have to be in a specific position (literally underneath the bar). It just needs to be in a position to allow the greatest contraction of most muscle groups.


#14

Hey Powerlifting peeps, Made several adjustments you all suggested, still not perfect, but hit a strong training PR today and it felt great! It just about barey breaks parallel and of course I find technique shouldalways be aimed to be improved but this was a great squat day today! Thanks guys!


#15

Good work brother! That looks a ton better.


#16

Thanks Mark! I spent over two hours yesterday squatting (honing and practicing technique, receiving critique from other lifters) at lighter weights and was exhausted after.I decided to come in and work on it today and hit a nice PR! Still needs work but was pumped afterwards!


#17

I was also going to comment on getting your elbows down. Years ago I got that advice from Maraudermeat (a long time poster here) and it made a world of difference. When I force my elbows down and under the bar, particularly when coming up out of the hole, it seemed to fly up. Like you, I had them back and up because that’s what felt the most secure. I found that moving my hands closer together helped out a lot. I have a very narrow grip and inch or two from my shoulders and that helps with back tightness.

Also, this tutorial is one of my favourites on setting up your squat. It is very detailed and specific. I still run through the steps in my head when I set up. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtPN-ftmxG8


#18

That’s great to hear you made some improvement. I can’t really tell if you’re pulling down your scapulae as much as possible in the video. I haven’t watched the video that ouroboro_s posted yet but I do have a suggestion.

Trying doing some hack deadlifts where the bar is behind your body. Get your back tight and remember the feeling of the weight pulling down your scapulae and your elbows being placed in a position to contract your lats and chest hard. When setting up for your squat, you should remember how it feels to pull your scapulae down and create tension in your lats with your chest up. You can pull your scapulae together slightly but not so much that it moves up because you won’t be able to get your lats as tight.


#19

Thanks for the input Ouroboro.

Will definitely watch that video. My trouble is finding the groove in the back where the bar sits comfortably. This could be due to some shoulder malfunctions (I tore my pec tendon, labrum and partial supraspinatus in one lift last year…it sucked). But I want to film an attemptfrom behind, minus the spotter. I’ve also been reading starting strength and it appears Rippetoe’s position of choice is w/ elbows up.

I hear hands in helps with bunching of the back and the “try to bend the bar” cue. Do you utilize this cue? If so I think it’s like the tennis ball in the armpit cue I’ll try. I have a knurling grip(hand over bar, not around or under) as well when I squat. However, different grips are something I’m going to explore. Alas, I am currently working squats in 5 times a week at varying intensities and parameters, but also with an emphasis on technique efficiency and form analysis.

Lift 206

The amount of upper back work I’ve been doing is absurd, namely with the goal of perfecting tightness and technique. Obviously, all of our lifts are full body in a sense. So I practice a lot of work with bands, pull ups, rows, pullovers (with the idea of tightening the lats for a bench take off and stabilization/max lat activation). Of course, I hope while this happens, I’ll be able to “feel” my whole body into using everything it can in a lift. One cue I recently discovered, was “attempting the pinching of a tennis ball in the armpit” (or the adams apple in the case of neutral spine alignment for hed postitioning (Rippetoe) to activate lats. I will include this in my setup process and see if it aids there. As well.