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Squats/Olympic Lifts

I’ve been trying to work some olympic lifts (clean & jerk, snatch) into my routine slowly, mostly just for fun and for a challenge.

I’ve started out slow with basic movements and drills to work up to the actual lifts. I really have a hard time with the squat portion of some of these lifts. Getting down low with proper technique is rather difficult for me, and doing it quickly is extremely hard for me at this stage.

I do squats and front squats frequently, trying to improve strength and range of motion. Even with back squats, it’s quite difficult for me to get down to parallel, and I really have a hard time keeping my chest up and my heels of the ground. Since I’ve never been particularly flexible, I also work on flexibility training.

Does anyone else do olympic lifts?

Any tips for getting the old joints into gear? Especially, tips for improved squatting form and flexibility.


It takes time to go full range of motion when doing olympic lifting. Try gobbler squats. Squat all the way down get a dumbell or weight hold under your neck and come up to just below your knee.Do several sets. Do snatch balances heave snatch balance, over head squats, zechter squats. Also go to mikesgym.org, crossfit they also work on full range of motion.

I had the same problem when I started oly lifting. I concentrated on becoming flexible by doing endless bodyweight squats, overhead squats, and wide stance low box squats. The wide stance low box squat is what really helped improve my flexibility. I also do high knees and other hip mobility movements as a warm up. Maybe some mobility drills will help?

I have that problem when I do narrow stance (BB) squats. I do not when I widen the stance to a powerlifter distance. I can get ass to grass deep that way with no problems with my knees or heels.

I am pretty flexible as I got a couple of black belts in my earlier years and maintained that.

As the other posters have said, flexibility work would help as well. That and try to widen your stance and see if that helps.

I’m about two months into starting to learn the oly-lifts with a couple of guys who are USAW club coaches. Part of the challenge is learning the right cues that will work for you.

For example, I have to work very hard on keeping a high chest when front squatting and also overhead squatting. The immediate benefit of keeping my chest high is that it lessens the pressure on my wrists in the front squats which then translates into less accumulated wrist discomfort when I overhead squat. My coaches don’t have to focus on that same cue (one of them only has to think about “shoulders forward” for himself), so I had to figure it out along the way.

Another big issue is increasing shoulder flexibility in order to be able to do overhead squats. Broomstick work is very helpful for me (ie. shoulder dislocates and the like coupled with stretches in a door jamb). I’m just now getting to the point where I can add weight to my overhead squats. If you’re interested I could describe the shoulder stretching routine that I go through in more detail.

[quote]GoOrange wrote:
and I really have a hard time keeping my chest up and my heels of the ground.

I assume you meant “heels ON the ground” -right?

As others have mentioned -practice, practice, practice.

See something on the floor?
Squat down and pick it up.

Looking in the fridge?
Squat down to get a better view.

Putting on your socks and shoes?
Sit on the floor and do it.

Be mobile.
And practice the movement.

Dan John has a great little piece on Youtube. Search for “Fitcast #6

Pick up a wooden dowel at the hardware (Lowe’s etc…)
A 6 footer is perfect.
Practice squatting with it.

Squat in the overhead position.
Behind your neck. (back squat)
Racked on your shoulders (front squat)

Just keep trying…
The flexibility will come.

It did for me



Thanks for the replies everyone.

I did mean heels “on” the ground - that was a typo.

I’m sure my shoulders are going to need some flexibilty work, but right now the biggest problem seems to be my lower body.

I’m hoping my problems are “flexibility” related and not “mobility” related.

I’m going to work on front squats, gobblet squats, and overhead squats mostly with just body weight or a broom handle.

I think I also need to do some serious flexibility training to loosen up my hamstrings, quads, and gluts. I think I need to schedule a serious 20 minute block of stretching time each day or something, and not just a few minutes every so often.

I’ve seen the Dan John video and think it’s great. I watch the various people in the video and think “how the hell do they get down so low?” That video really helped my form quite a bit.

From my experience, forget about traditional stretching. Weighted stretches in the form of goblet squats held down at the bottom position or (best option) holding the rock bottom position of a full snatch or OHS and really feeling for the bottom and trying to push it lower worked for me.

I’m admittedly pretty flexible to start with, but these help with balance also, which for me was at least at important as flexibility coming from a sort of power-bodybuilding background. What’s critical is to make sure you’re squatting right, between the legs as DJ says. Hope this helps.

I’ve found one thing that has helped a little - the Smith machine.

Using light-moderate weights I can get down a little lower with this without having to worry about balance much. This has worked pretty well for front squats and overhead squats.

After doing a few sets on the machine, I find I have better luck with regular front squats of the rack.

I think it’s just going to take a little time.