T Nation

Squats: Can't Keep My Back Straight


when i squat above 180-185, my back bends to the front. what can i do to improve that and keep my back straight?? do i stop doing the barbell and go to hack or use the smith machine??


Are you going too deep too soon? You might not yet have the flexibility in the hips or the strength in the back to keep your arch when you squat deep.

Get your back stronger (deadlifts, back extensions and good mornings) and free up your hips (get a copy of Magnificent Mobility and read up on some hip stretches).

Last but not least, make sure you're not just pussing out. Keeping your back tight on the squat is hard work. Really pull the bar into your rear delts and make everything back there tight.


Two common causes of back-rounding (bending to the front) in the squat are lack of hamstring extensibility and insufficient familiarity with proper lower back position (lumbar extension), the proper 'arch'. You may well need to develop the first and really learn the second so that it becomes second nature in your training.

Also: Are you still tasking your legs with the job, or instead calling on your back when the weight becomes more difficult for you?
Remember: Chest up, lower back tight, and drive from the heels with the hips.

Here are some articles on the site that may help in all these respects:




Good luck!


My friend has the same problem. He is not flexible enough to go deep because he starts rounding his back or leaning forward to much. To fix that, he put ten pound plates under his heels when he squats, then once he is good with those, he will lower the height that his heels are elevated eventually not using anything under his heels. This actually improved his depth and he is not leaning forward anymore.


i'll do that of course


i've tried that, but still the rounding was there.
do you suggest that i lower the weights, till i get the technique correctly?


thanks for the articles


Keep your head up and try to look straight up at the cieling and almost behind you, hope that makes sense because this will help.


It depends. If in fact you can keep your arch with lighter weights, then yes, lower the weight and get some volume in. Just work your way up to heavier weights with that good form.


It's my understanding that if you do this, you can injure your neck. Look forward and slightly down.


This is correct. Cervical hyperextension is not recommended; doing it before the lift might help give the lifter a better sense for the position of 'chest up, lower back tight/arched', but the hyperextension (e.g., looking at the ceiling) should not be maintained during the exercise itself.

This is, by the way, one of the technique mistakes Cressey speaks of in a recent article
without reference, however, to squatting.

Rippetoe and Kilgore, Starting Strength, 2nd edn, go into this at length: looking at the ceiling "is the enemy of correct bottom position, hip drive out of the bottom, and correct chest position".

Returning to the OP's problem, if he can learn to maintain correct positioning, then (to add another quotation): "Don't be afraid to lean over, stick your butt back, and shove your knees out" (i.e., don't let them draw together).


Form always comes before weight. Do not lift with an ego, just do the weight where you can keep good form and not injure yourself.


One thing that I feel helped me with squats was doing bodyweight squats. I would try doing 50 a few times a week at home or after working out. Not necessarily 50 in a row. Helps to make the correct form more habitual.

Definitely agree that strengthening your back with deadlifts helps a ton also.