T Nation

Squats, all types

This post is mainly directed at the coaches, but if you have some valuable personal experience then please share it. The reason that it is directed towards the coaches, is because they work with many people they have a greater wealth of experience and knowledge from which they can call on, for the very fact that they see so many trainees. Having said that I know that many of you will have some very valuable anecdotal advice.

I’m apologise if this seems too long, or if you don’t know where i am going or what i am asking, but if you bear wih me all will become clear. The reason i am being so thorough and obsessive even (i think about this all the time) is that i want a long and happy lifting life, with huge progression and zero injuries/complaints etc. Right let’s get on with it!

My post is about squats. Regular back squats, front squats, overhead squats and other associated movements. My question is not really about technique it is more about the specifics about certain positions and the reasons behind them. Let’s take back squat first. When i step back from the rack, i place my feet wider than shoulder width about 1.5 to 2 times the width (definately not the furthest they can go.) with my feet slightly pointed outwards.

With my shoulder blades and torso tight, i rotate my pelvis back so that my back, in particular my lumbar spine, is tightly arched (as arched as it can get.) i then sit back and squat. all the time i am trying to keep my back as arched as possible and trying to keep my knees from going beyond my toes. i also try to not let my torso lean forward any more than 30 degrees, 45 at the most.

I go a few inches below parallel but not rock bottom. Here is the problem. About an inch or so above parallel i start losing the maximum arch in my lumbar (lower back) spine. It’s not that i goes completely rounded but it has lost the complete, maximum arch and tightness that it had at the start of the motion. Do you all find this happens as well? If i try and do squats with a shoulder width stance my back starts rounding at about parallel and i start to lean froward. Do you find this as well?

If i want to keep this tight arch, then i find that i lose my sitting back position and my knees start moving froward so that they are in front of my toes, something i do not want to happen. So my main question is, is this because of weak hamstrings? If so will doing glute-ham raises sort this problem out? i have started doing natural glute-ham raises and stiff-leg deadlifts.

Now my question about knees. Why shouldn’t let your knees go passed your toes? i always thought it was because it put too much stress on the knee which isn’t a great thing. does this knees-over-the-toes even matter?

My overhead squat question is kinda the same as those above. Firstly with the overhead, do you squat back as you do with regular squats, because that is the way i do them. Again in order to keep the arch in my back, my knees go passed my toes? will this have any long-term bad effects and do others find that this happens?

So to round up i basically want to know if strengthening my hamstrings will stop my back losing its tight arch as i squat below parallel, and will also stop my knees going passed my toes when i try to keep the arch? also are there any long-term effects of squatting below parallel (as other gym-rats are keen to tell me) and any long-term effects if my knees go passed my toes when i squat?

NB is it possible to squat rock-bottom and still keep a tight arch in the lumbar spine and not let your knees go passed your toes?
Are there any good online video clips or pictures or excellent squat technique (all squats) or are there any good videos to buy for the squat, overhead squat and olympic lifting, so i can see if my technique is good.

sorry for the length of this post, but this stuff has been bugging me for ages and i really want some answers. if there are any points that need clarifying, please say. Please answer in as much detail as possible.

Thank you in advance.

Hope you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

re: Knee/foot. As the knee bends the femur glides anteriorly on the tibia. They say that you place too much tension on the anterior cruciate ligament. I agree with this, but if you have enough range of motion, you should be able to go deep enough without having the knee go past the 2nd toe. I hope this helps.