T Nation

Squat Wrist Alignment

I’ve been lifting for about 2 years. My longtime gym, however, only had a Smith machine, so squats, unfortunately, were not a part of my routine. I’ve moved, and my new gym thankfully has a squat rack.

To my immense frustration, I’ve been having problems getting my form down, specifically wrist alignment. I have Starting Strength, and on page 21, figure 2-21 stresses keeping your wrists straight. I flat out am physically incapable of this. My wrists MUST bend. Any attempt to straighten them feels like my wrists and/or shoulders are going to shatter, and pushes the bar up to the base of my neck.

I am trying to correct this but it is very painful and uncomfortable and I’m afraid I’m nowhere near flexible enough to keep my wrists straight as shown in the book.

Anyone else have this problem? Will I be okay bending my wrists? Any suggestions as to how to correct this or exercises I could do to somehow drastically increase whatever flexibility I need to keep my wrists straight? Thanks much.

S

If you keep you hands in a close grip (versus wide like powerlifters) it’s pretty much impossible to keep you wrists straight. It’s more important to keep you elbows under the bar, and for that, you wrist ARE gonna bend a little bit, just like when you bench.

[quote]Nyral wrote:
It’s more important to keep you elbows under the bar, and for that, you wrist ARE gonna bend a little bit, just like when you bench.[/quote]

Wait, what? In the video for the Squat that follows Starting Strength, Ripptoe pushes the elbows behind the wrists, not keeping them under? Though he does have the subjects bending the wrist to accomplish this, like you say, not keeping them straight as the OP suggests.

In the video for the Bench Press however, he has them keeping the wrists as straight as possible.

This is also what my personal trainer had me doing.

You’re saying they’re wrong?

The back supports the bar, the hands just stabilize it.

I squat with a narrow grip with bent wrists. Feels fine to me.

If you are using a regular grip on the bar with your thumb under the bar (so your thumb and index finger make a zero), try placing your thumb over the bar like a suicide grip. This can sometimes help.

If you are not doing this already of course…

[quote]ZeroSleep wrote:
Nyral wrote:
It’s more important to keep you elbows under the bar, and for that, you wrist ARE gonna bend a little bit, just like when you bench.

Wait, what? In the video for the Squat that follows Starting Strength, Ripptoe pushes the elbows behind the wrists, not keeping them under? Though he does have the subjects bending the wrist to accomplish this, like you say, not keeping them straight as the OP suggests.

In the video for the Bench Press however, he has them keeping the wrists as straight as possible.

This is also what my personal trainer had me doing.

You’re saying they’re wrong?[/quote]

No, I’m saying you’re wrong! Your PT might be stupid but Rippetoe does not suggest to keep your wrist perfectly straight.
Too much bend is wrong like the pic on the left of course, because the bar is not aligned with the forearm. But you can’t keep your wrist perfectly straight or the bar is gonna be in front of your wrist. The pic on the right is as straight as it should ever get.

Now for the squat, a similar bend of the wrist is just fine. Thumbs around or not, your choice. Your preferred hand position and grip, i.e. close or wide, will widely be dictated by your flexibility. It shouldn’t hurt your shoulders at all. Just keep it simple, if your upper back feels tight and your shoulders are okay, then you’ve found a good position for you.

People are actually fretting over whether or not their wrists bend a little when they squat?

Really?

Come the fuck on.

[quote]mr popular wrote:
People are actually fretting over whether or not their wrists bend a little when they squat?

Really?

Come the fuck on.[/quote]

Being new to squats, excuse the fuck out of me for trying to learn correct form. And my wrists don’t bend a little, they bend a lot. The only way that works at all for me is thumb under the bar and wrists bent. If this isn’t a big deal, cool…

But according to Starting Strength (the book) this is bad form. He repeatedly stresses straight wrists, thumb over, with elbows behind the bar (p 20-22, especially the “tape” example). Every picture of a squat in the book has straight wrists. I found out about Starting Strength from recommendations by this website and its users, so once again, excuse the fuck out of me for taking it seriously…

Sounds to me like you have a serious flexibility issue in your shoulders. I could be wrong without pics or video but if I’m right you’ll want to fix that soon as it’ll cause you all kinds of problems down the road.

People use many different grip types and widths and angles on a squat. Luckily it’s not the most important part of a squat as your arms shouldn’t be supporting any weight at all, just acting as a stabilizer in case the bar tries to slide down your back (which it shouldn’t unless you lose your balance).

My wrists stay ‘mostly’ straight and my elbows are nearly straight underneath my hands, but I use a relatively wide grip, say 6" out from my shoulders on either side. I use the ‘hook or suicide’ grip per Ripptoe as well but I don’t think the grip type would make it easier or harder to get into the position I do.

When I run down my list of form checks for squats with an empty bar each training day (still a relative n00b), I don’t even think about my grip, but it seems that part comes easily.

[quote]sscannon wrote:
mr popular wrote:
People are actually fretting over whether or not their wrists bend a little when they squat?

Really?

Come the fuck on.

Being new to squats, excuse the fuck out of me for trying to learn correct form. And my wrists don’t bend a little, they bend a lot. The only way that works at all for me is thumb under the bar and wrists bent. If this isn’t a big deal, cool…

But according to Starting Strength (the book) this is bad form. He repeatedly stresses straight wrists, thumb over, with elbows behind the bar (p 20-22, especially the “tape” example). Every picture of a squat in the book has straight wrists. I found out about Starting Strength from recommendations by this website and its users, so once again, excuse the fuck out of me for taking it seriously…[/quote]

Straight wrists:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYojAPYILEo

Bent wrists:

Two different body types doing whatever comes naturally. Does it look like it matters to you?

With the little stuff you simply do what is more comfortable for you. And anyone telling you that wrist alignment is a key that will make or break your squat is probably full of utter shit.

I don’t like the way Rippetoe teaches the squat, and I don’t like very much of his philosophy on training. You will be hard-pressed to find very muscular or very strong people that swear by what he says - however, it is easy to find internet know-it-alls that will.

[quote]Nyral wrote:
ZeroSleep wrote:
Nyral wrote:
It’s more important to keep you elbows under the bar, and for that, you wrist ARE gonna bend a little bit, just like when you bench.

Wait, what? In the video for the Squat that follows Starting Strength, Ripptoe pushes the elbows behind the wrists, not keeping them under? Though he does have the subjects bending the wrist to accomplish this, like you say, not keeping them straight as the OP suggests.

In the video for the Bench Press however, he has them keeping the wrists as straight as possible.

This is also what my personal trainer had me doing.

You’re saying they’re wrong?

No, I’m saying you’re wrong! Your PT might be stupid but Rippetoe does not suggest to keep your wrist perfectly straight.
Too much bend is wrong like the pic on the left of course, because the bar is not aligned with the forearm. But you can’t keep your wrist perfectly straight or the bar is gonna be in front of your wrist. The pic on the right is as straight as it should ever get.

Now for the squat, a similar bend of the wrist is just fine. Thumbs around or not, your choice. Your preferred hand position and grip, i.e. close or wide, will widely be dictated by your flexibility. It shouldn’t hurt your shoulders at all. Just keep it simple, if your upper back feels tight and your shoulders are okay, then you’ve found a good position for you.[/quote]

Reading comprehension fail. Not perfectly straight. As straight as possible. For the bench press that is. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQutODgl2J4

On the squat however, you don’t want to actually use your grip to hold the bar up. You keep your elbows back and use your hands to press the bar into your back, which is what is actually carrying the freakin’ bar. Like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qbBsn7IbPU

[quote]ZeroSleep wrote:
Nyral wrote:
ZeroSleep wrote:
Nyral wrote:
It’s more important to keep you elbows under the bar, and for that, you wrist ARE gonna bend a little bit, just like when you bench.

Wait, what? In the video for the Squat that follows Starting Strength, Ripptoe pushes the elbows behind the wrists, not keeping them under? Though he does have the subjects bending the wrist to accomplish this, like you say, not keeping them straight as the OP suggests.

In the video for the Bench Press however, he has them keeping the wrists as straight as possible.

This is also what my personal trainer had me doing.

You’re saying they’re wrong?

No, I’m saying you’re wrong! Your PT might be stupid but Rippetoe does not suggest to keep your wrist perfectly straight.
Too much bend is wrong like the pic on the left of course, because the bar is not aligned with the forearm. But you can’t keep your wrist perfectly straight or the bar is gonna be in front of your wrist. The pic on the right is as straight as it should ever get.

Now for the squat, a similar bend of the wrist is just fine. Thumbs around or not, your choice. Your preferred hand position and grip, i.e. close or wide, will widely be dictated by your flexibility. It shouldn’t hurt your shoulders at all. Just keep it simple, if your upper back feels tight and your shoulders are okay, then you’ve found a good position for you.

Reading comprehension fail. Not perfectly straight. As straight as possible. For the bench press that is. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQutODgl2J4

On the squat however, you don’t want to actually use your grip to hold the bar up. You keep your elbows back and use your hands to press the bar into your back, which is what is actually carrying the freakin’ bar. Like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qbBsn7IbPU[/quote]

I don’t see where in the first video he says to keep the wrists straight…

In the second video, the girl has her elbows way too high, her arms are parallel to the floor! Are you suggesting this is the way you should squat? Because I’ve never seen anyone squat big like this.

[quote]Nyral wrote:
In the second video, the girl has her elbows way too high, her arms are parallel to the floor! Are you suggesting this is the way you should squat? Because I’ve never seen anyone squat big like this.[/quote]

Not that high, if I tried my shoulders would probably pop because of flexibility issues. But the video does show better than words what I meant, as I couldn’t find any pictures. High elbows to put all the weight on the back, and not holding it with the arms, just supporting it so it doesn’t slide down the back.

[quote]ZeroSleep wrote:
Nyral wrote:
In the second video, the girl has her elbows way too high, her arms are parallel to the floor! Are you suggesting this is the way you should squat? Because I’ve never seen anyone squat big like this.

Not that high, if I tried my shoulders would probably pop because of flexibility issues. But the video does show better than words what I meant, as I couldn’t find any pictures. High elbows to put all the weight on the back, and not holding it with the arms, just supporting it so it doesn’t slide down the back.[/quote]

I can’t quite agree with the high elbow position. I know it’s Rippetoe’s technique but again, just look at big squatters, their elbows are not very high up, and if they squat like that, I guess it’s because it works.
one exemple: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=az49UMdY1h0&feature=related
or just look at any powerlifter video.

[quote]Nyral wrote:
I can’t quite agree with the high elbow position. I know it’s Rippetoe’s technique but again, just look at big squatters, their elbows are not very high up, and if they squat like that, I guess it’s because it works.
one exemple: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=az49UMdY1h0&feature=related
or just look at any powerlifter video.[/quote]

Beginners and advanced are different though, and since he’s asking this question, I’m guessing he’s a beginner, in which case that elbow position helps - at least it helped me.

That guy in your video though… With that back, I’m surprised he cares to hold around the bar at all, looks like he could just let his hands hang free down his sides, and the bar would still stay in place.

I can see what you’re saying though, I take your point. I might be wrong, but like I said, I believe there’s difference between beginners and someone with a 500lbs squat.

[quote] Any suggestions as to how to correct this or exercises I could do to somehow drastically increase whatever flexibility I need to keep my wrists straight? Thanks much.

S

[/quote]

Try a pinky-less grip- grab with the thumb around bar and your first 3 fingers. This lets your wrists grab the bar at an angle and takes a tremendous ammount of stress off of them. Remember to keep your “shelf” by getting your elbows up and back as much as possible. Is the bar sliding down your back when you squat? Does the bar have knurling in the middle. I’ve used bars that were smooth in the middle and it slid down my back causing a shit ton of pressure on my wrists. I solved it by placing some gym tape on the bar where he knurling should be and by chalking my shoulders. Let me know…