T Nation

Squat Technique


I have been trying to improve my squat technique but feel like I have a looooooooong way to go. What can I do to improve my squat?


i dont see anything blaringly wrong other then depth. but it is hard to tell proper depth from any angle other then the side.


Your squat looks high, but ya need a side view for some clarity. Get your elbows in under the bar more for starters.


why? that's completely opinionated advice. it is not necessary to build a better squat and one of those things that come down to preference. forcing him to change one of those preferencial aspects may lead to more harm than good in the long run.

form from this angle looks alright overlooking the obvious aforementioned height problem.


hard to tell with the room so dark. I like the homemade power rack though!

Big things I see here:

1) Chest starts down, stays down. Needs to be slammed up towards the ceiling.

2) elbows are waaay back instead of down (forcing them down helps with #1 also)

3) hard to see what the knees are doing from the camera angle.

4) almost impossible to tell depth from camera angle.

Looks like your back just isn't too tight. This complicates #1 and 2. Makes it harder to keep elbows down and chest up.


Ya ok or just chicken wing them out like that, "preference"


way to not be arguing, sounding arrogant and not contributing further to the threat in any way. trifecta \o/


It feels like I have to lean over or the bar will not stay up. I also feel like if I don't flare out my elbows the bar will fall. This is an area I really need help with. Thanks for the compliment on the homemade squat rack . . . it is like one of my children. Here is a back view of my squat. This might help a little bit more with the depth question. I really want to get this thing right so I can keep progressing and not get injured.


The feeling you describe about NEEDING to flare your elbows is a sign that you are just not friggin tight enough in the upper back. The forward lean is a sign too--although with a low bar position there is naturally much more forward lean than a very high bar position, so it is quite normal to lean forward more the lower the bar sits on your back.

I want you to do something. you will need a cable stack or a jumpstretch powerlifting band, sorry. My best suggestion is do a back day at a local gym if you have neither piece at your garage. Here is what you do:

Get on the lat pulldown machine. Pick a weight that you can do for 8 good reps with good form (no fucking body english with your torso). Sit bolt upright and grab a slightly wider than shoulder width grip. Do NOT lean your torso back at all during the movement. Now, pull down and simultaneously try to point your breastbone directly at the ceiling while you pull down to your neck (in front). Point your breastbone at the ceiling WITHOUT leaning your body backwards and try to squeeze your shoulder blades together as fucking tight as possible. Pretend there's a gun barrel in between them and youre trying to physically break it with your muscles squeezong tight. Hold this peak position and squeeze every muscle in your back as if your life depended on it. Hold the squeeze for 3 seconds, relax, repeat the rep. Hold every rep for 3 seconds like you were going to die.

That is roughly how tight you need to be with the approximate amount of "high chest" you need to have. I also personally shrug my traps together in addition to that squeeze I just described. Add to that a very tightly squeezed lower back and you are good to go. This is not comfortable if you do it right and hold it. :slightly_smiling:


I am going to try this tomorrow. I will get a free pass to a local gym and give it a try. It sounds like my weak upper back is holding me back. I am going to develop those muscles to get into better squat position. What is your opinion on front squats? Would they help my stance?


Front squats kick uber ass. That is all.


Hey man, nice squats and cool rack. I've got a few things for you:

What I like:

no pelvic rounding - your pelvis doesn't round at all, and that's a very good thing, when the pelvis rounds the upper back has a tendancy to as well. you arch it nicely and keep it tight. Good job.

Execution - you have a solid controlled descent, and build a lot of tension before you go up, that's very important for max attempts.

torso position - i saw up above you were worried about bending forward, I wouldn't worry about this, you're very upright for a low bar position, and this is just what happens when you go low bar as you have to keep the bar inline with your feet or you'll be doing a good morning.

What I feel you can improve on:

bar grip - go thumbless on your bar grip, you'll find it much easier to get your shoulders underneath you while maintaining a tight upper back.

Depth/stance - you've got a depth issues, probably 3-4'...hold 4' up in front of you, it's not that much and not a big deal, you can get down there.

However, you're going to find it difficult as your feet are outside shoulder width and you have some fairly tight hips. I'll get to that. What tight hips mean is that you're going to find it hard to get down, it's like you hit a wall, plus a wider stance just puts more strain on the hips making this even harder.

So bring your feet in to shoulder width and give it a shot. You're going low bar, so don't sit back AS much, sit more in between your legs and let your knees go forward a bit more and you'll stay upright.

You may need to bring your bar up to medium bar height instead of low bar. This isn't a huge difference and will let you stay very upright.

If you make these changes and find getting out of the hole more difficult, don't freak out, you just need to bring your quads up a bit, do some front squats once a week, or more if you can, and you'll notice a big difference, as well they'll help you to build your new form.

HIPS: your hips are tight, from the back view I can see you wiggling and shifting slightly on your descent. Do this warm up before you squat, and you'll see a big reduction in your wiggling, as well as getting depth much easier.

That's about it I think, take all my advice with a grain of salt, as it's only 2 videos and I feel you're a good squatter


I call my squat rack the tower of power. I hope I don't get termites. I use to round a lot before I started stretching more. I was looking at a squat video I took in March and it is bad but everyone starts somewhere and I always want to get better. You are right about the hips . . . so tight. I did not know side to side movement was a symptom. Tried the hip video today and it is torture. I am going to move the stance in a little and go to medium bar. It sounds like front squats will help to. Here is the plan if I understand correct:

  1. stretch more , shoulders hips
  2. front squats
  3. move the stance in a little bit
  4. tight tight tight upper back kill kill kill the upper back super f$#king tight, don't play with me fool . . . stick your finger in between my shoulder blades and I am going to break it off tight.
  5. get low get low get low.
  6. play around with the grip a little to get those elbows down
  7. chest up and out

Am I on the right track?


That, sir, is a fantastic recipe for success! The force is strong in this one...You will go far with this.


The only thing I would change is to get optimally low... below parallel is enough, no real reason the go ass to grass IMO. Below parallel you load the quads enough to come up strong, I wouldn't try for A2G as your pelvis will round and you'll give up your back.

So get low, you'll feel the stretch in your legs, and when you can't stretch anymore, go up.

Also do some thumbs up band pull aparts everyday for a month, 2x25, or more depending on the band... it should be hard... that will get you under the bar well and build up your upper back very well.

Hope that helps man, you're definitely on the right track


Larry and Aragorn nailed this one for you, but I have one more mental cue for you. A thumbless grip is a must for this.

Instead of feeling like you need the bar to sit on your back/shoulders, and instead of 'pushing' the bar against your back with your arms, imagine you are just trying to wrap the bar around yourself. Getting your back tight has to happen first, but after that pretend you are on one of those pec deck things and trying to do flies (fly's?) with the barbell.

You may also want to post one more video to show your setup. This is where everything starts and if your back isn't tight before it comes into contact with the bar then you are already screwed. I compare it to the bench in some ways. You see guys get their shoulders set and then walk their butt up the bench before they press, right? Before I unrack for a squat, I pinch my shoulder blades as tight as I can, put the bar at the bottom of my shoulder blades, and then squeeze the bar as hard as I can. At this point, I finally walk the bar up my back a bit until it hits the shelf of my shoulder blades and then unrack.


No it's not. Having the elbows too high throws the bar weight forward. And if it is completely opinionated, that means it has no impact his performance, so it should do neither harm nor good.


Rippetoe espouses raising the elbows as it creates a muscular shelf to rest the bar on, while also keeping the upper back tight. Nothing wrong with elbows up.

He also espouses lifting your butt first, which also seems contradictory from the mainstream "squatting advice"

Just goes to show that there is preference.


Around the 3 minute mark he tells his student to raise his elbows UP! Not down.


Personally i think the variance in advice has a lot to do with the experience level and goals of the lifter in question. For instance i think its a good cue to tell beginners to 'sit back' almost without exception, while some intermediate/advanced powerlfters might get the advice to sit more straight down, as Larry10 has been advocating. Might be the same kinda deal with elbow positiion.

Gotta keep in mind that Rip is generally targetting novices and people lifting for a sport, not PLers