T Nation

Squat Technique Problem


I think i've got a problem with my squat technique. Total beginner at all lifting.

Went to the gym today, only the 2nd time i've ever done squats. Unfortunately, the only action the cage at my gym sees is the occasional guy doing pullups. So, any technique is strictly from reading books and this forum.

Anyway, I tried to lift 275, and did two reps. Could have done more, but, I feel like the weight is pulling me forward, and I end up lifting way too much with my back.

I'm thinking that i'm leaning forward too much. Sound right? I'm trying to first "sit in a chair" then squat, but I must be missing something.

Any ideas on perfecting my technique?


You're probably handling too much weight to get it right, being a beginner. I'm not saying that you are or are not strong, but that you're in the perfect place to get the technique down.

With your musculature and connective tissues, there are some prereqs for good technique.

You're hips have to be relatively loose.
Your glutes, hams, hips, back, and core should balance out your quads. Think of it as a total body exercise more than a quad exercise (depending on what style of squat you want to do).

Don't stand tall, like you're at attention. Kind of want your hips to be kind of wide, relax your glutes a little bit.

I read, and have great benefit in, a recent article by Dave Tate where he talks about the prevlance of "accordion squats", which he takes issue with. He says to "sit between your legs". The more I concentrate on this, the easier it gets to do squats, especially deep ones.

I used to pile on way too much weight and do half-squats. That's not a challenge, I have real strong quads and weak everything else. It's taken me a good while to learn how to do squats the right way.

I usually warm up with 2 or 3 sets of the bar, another set of 135, maybe another one or a set of 185. I do around 300 for 8-10, which is not great but I'm enjoying squats a lot more these days. I usually don't do real well with an extended warmup-but I found with squats I have to limber up a bit and I don't trail off in the subsequent sets.

Make sure you do good, parallel or below squats. Some good mornings also sound like a good idea for you, but definitely DON'T go crazy on the weight with these ( I would literally start with the bar and start adding dimes on each side, but read about these first if you havent already).

Your knees can travel just a bit but it really is like sitting into a chair. Find a box and a knowledgable spotter if you need more help.

My warmup:
bar x 5 x 2
135 x 5 x 2


A couple of thoughts: a true newbie probably benefits from lots of practice and preparation. I don't think the squat is exceptionally difficult or technical, especially not compared to olympic lifts, but you can afford to spend a couple months staying away from high weight/low reps until you find your groove. For at least the time being, keep the bar high on your back, and forward. This will prevent you from having to tilt your torso forward too much to keep your balance. IMO it also probably helps make up for the inadequate flexibility that most beginners have.

4x275 lbs isn't bad at all for your second time squatting, especially if you're really going to parallel (which tons of beginners simply can't do even with low weight). Hope you'll keep us updated.


Also, I recommend not using a bar cushion if you can help it. Make sure the bar is sitting on you traps, not your neck. Lowering the bar might also help you from tilting forward.


I felt the same thing when I started squatting regularly. It makes sense really. If you're trying to "sit back" into your squat and still keep your center of gravity over your feet (so you don't fall over), your going to have to bend more at the hips to accomodate that. Your other option is to let your knees come way out over your toes and stay more upright at the hips.

In my experience this turns it into a more quad dominant movement rather than the hips / posterior chain movement that a powerlifting squat is. Just my thoughts.. anyone with more experience please chime in...

good luck though dude.. 275 on your second day squatting is solid.


If your form is suffering with 275, drop the weight to 135. Now get something you can sit on. I use 70 lb dumbell at 24 fatness but my ass is narrow. Use a bench, milk crate if you're at home, whatever. Unrack the weight, get set so when you sit back you sit on the 'box'. Take a WIDE stance. Sit back onto the box.

Now look forward, lead with your head and squat. Practice like this from a dead stop on the box until you don't feel tippy coming up.

NOW you can worry about adding weight. I went through this recently myself learning to squat properly again after a back injury. Works wonders.


Sounds like you definitely need to drop weight and get your form down. If you feel like you're getting pulled forward you need to keep your back more perpendicular to the ground. If its only your second day squatting and you're doing 275 I'm guessing you're not getting a very large range of motion. Unless ofcourse your extremely strong naturally. My advice, drop weight, do full ROM. Go ass to grass on your squats, or atleast break parallel. Once your form is down and your doing full ROM your strength will shoot up quickly.


COme on, you can't be that naive. There's no way in hell he was going to parallel. Get someone to watch you from the side and make sure your hips are breaking parallel with your knees. If you can't get anyone, then keep going till your hamstrings rest on your calves.



1/Good mornings
2/front squats
3/box squats


Wow, thanks for all the responses!

Looks like the consensus is to drop the weight until i've perfected the form. I can certainly do that. The only problem I have, is that when I do 225, it feels fine. Not sure if this is because my form changes, or I don't notice as much with the lower weight. My shoulders should not be in front of my knees at all, correct? I'll have my spotter watch that with the lower weights to see.

I have been using the pad, for no particular reason other than it was there. I'll stop using it and see how that goes.

RE: Box squats. You literally sit on a box and pull yourself up from it?

I'll try good mornings too...Haven't done those yet.

RE: Parallel. Before doing these, i've read a ton on here, so that's the first thing I had my spotter watch, was to make sure I hit parallel. So, from the side, I hit parallel. Didn't try to get any further than that though.

Definitely a beginner at structured weightlifting, but I have worked jobs that required quite a bit of strength.

In all honesty, after reading this board for 3 months, I was quite disappointed in my 275 bench and 275 squat. Every other thread talks about 400 pound squats, etc.

Anyway, thanks for the help, I really appreciate it!


Yep, box squats will force you to do the movement correctly.

Where a flat sole shoe, like old school New Balance or Converse.


I feel like a complete idiot, since i'm not usually in to gimmicky things, but has anyone heard of the manta ray thing for squats? It's a pad that distributes weight better and supposedly helps maintain more up and down posture rather than leaning forward like I do.

Any thoughts?


I've heard of it. It seems to get mixed reviews. Some people swear by it, and some people hate it.

Don't sweat it for now. Getting the bar on your back will allow you get better back stability and a better "feel" for the bar position.

Oh, and make sure you have looked extensively at good morning form. It is a brutal, amazing exercise, but it is not one to be trifled with on form. If you decide to screw around with the form, you're begging to be hurt.

Nice attitude by the way. With that attitude, the weight will surely grow.


Disappointed in a 275lb squat? For a total gym newb, that is amazing. If you did it to depth of course. You still haven't learned to fully coordinate your body's movement with the exercise, you haven't mastered technique, and you haven't had any experience with "feeling" a good squat work. You'll do fine when you get better.