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Squats!

How does everyone here squat? I’d like to know your technique, height and goals for squatting (powerlifting, bodybuilding or somewhere in between maybe). I’ve read Dave Tate’s article, but that’s more for powerlifting guys isn’t it?

After doing some Olympic lifting, I learned how to do ass-to-the-ground squats, both back and front.

And I haven't gone back to parallel or half squats since then. Unless I'm doing one of Ian King's programs where he recommends quarter squats.

I'm still nursing a knee injury, so I haven't been able to do any heavy squatting for the past month. I just switched over to front squats as my focus. Hopefully, I won't have any knee pain and will be able to make some good gains in strength and muscle mass.

No matter what, I always go low! I might not be able to lift as much weight, but I get a much better workout and can feel it in my quads, hams and glutes!

I squat ass to the floor but I feel like a big puss due to the lack of weight I can do. I am 6-5, 265 and can only squat 225 for 5 reps. I think everyone forgets that you are squatting your bodyweight also. I see these little scrawny guys doing 350 and 400 pounds doing quarter squats (if that far) and they look at me like I am a puss. I just have to remember what Ian King said in his limping series, “it’s not about pumping up your ego, it’s about getting bigger”, but it is tough to check your ego and put your ass on the floor. Does anyone else hate these goofballs in the gym that do “full body cheat” curls or quarter squats or who are trying to stick their dick through the ceiling on bench presses? They use a ton of weight with terrible form, bitch that they make no gains and ask if you’re on the gear because you are twice their size and use half the weight they do. I actually had a guy watching me do incline curls with 30’s, very strict 2-1-4-0 tempo and say to me “your arms can’t be that big only using 30’s”. I tried to explain to him how much weight isn’t what matters, good form, TUT, and overloading the muscle is more important. I got a blank stare from him, then he says, “well you must be taking something then”. Idiots should be banned from the gym. Anyone else have lifts where they just can’t do much because they do use good form and the pencil necks look at you like a you are a big puss?

Variety is the spice of life—not to mention CONTINUED GAINS !! I squat high bar ,low bar,med. stance, wide stance,BOX squats, ski squats, saftey squats,etc.I’m 6’0" and lean mass is my MAJOR goal. Dave’s methods are great!!, and yes,they’re the bread & butter of powerlifters. Bodybuilders in the “know” realize that strength gains (made during your strength phase-3-6 weeks) drastically increase the amount of muscle gained during your mass(volume)phase. Why, because you can LIFT MORE WEIGHT for reps!!! Give his methods a try for a few weeks and see for yourself,you will not be dissapointed. Oh, I hope you periodize your workouts!

Jason, I agree with you completely! There are plenty of morons in the gym lifting more weight especially when squatting, but when I watch their form, it makes me sick!

I’ve squatted 325lb for a “half squat” a few years ago. Now, I did have larger legs and ass, but I didn’t go very deep at all.

When I started doing back squats deep, I would go up to 205lb for five reps. And I am 140lbs and 5’4". The most I’ve done like that is 225lb. I hope to blow past that once I get my knee feeling good and start tearing it up in the gym!

Jason,

I know what you mean. I used to lift some pretty impresssive weights, but people often came up to me and told me that “I am stronger than I look”. Not really what I wanted to hear. A couple of years ago I started to slow down the tempo , especially on the negative and I made the best gains of my life. The way I look at it, I probably impress more people outside of the gym than inside anyway, and they don’t see what I lift so who cares?

My main goal is powerlifting, but i have never done a box squat because my gym doesnt have boxes. one thing that i just started doing that i think is similar is putting the safety bars in the squat cage down low enough so that they will stop the bar a little bit above an ass to floor squat. i then do low reps (usually 4-6) with about a 2 second pause at the bottom. During the pause all of the weight is resting on the safety bars so i guess this is sort of equivelent to box squatting because you have no momentum to start out on the way up. i do both back and front squats this way. i also will do regular squats where i just go down parallell and don’t rest. i am going to try to do westside methods in the near future where i have a dynamic and max effort day, but i am not sure if this will work very well with regular squats as opposed to box squats. as far as the grip and stance is concerned i usually get a pretty wide grip on back squats and my stance is also pretty wide. for front squats i usually have a narrower grip and narrower stance.

Nate,
What kind of leg workouts are you able to do with an injured knee? My knee started bothering me about a week ago, feels like a tendon/over use thing. I know I need to give it a rest, but it’s KILLING me knowing that I can’t get a decent leg workout. I love doing the super deep, ass to the ground squats, and as it’s been said, it’s not about ego, but getting bigger. Just curious what you’ve been able to do, you mentioned front squats, do you find these inhibit your recovery? Any other suggestions, anyone, about getting over a knee injury?

In my gym, I’m the only one there (from what I’ve seen) that squats ass-to-the-floor. Even the loyal band of 'roid users don’t do full squats. Quite frankly, I don’t have any respect for partial (only) squatters because it is so much easier. I used to use 335lb for 8 reps going down to parrallel, but when I learned from CP about how to squat I could only manage 135lbs for 8 reps. Well, now I’m up to 195 for 8 and there’s no turning back.

I was the typical quarter squat guy who never could make any progress until I slipped a disc in my back in college. After that I had to start over with just the bar and used a full range of motion. Over the next year I slowly added weight to my squats and low and behold I was doing ass to my ankles squats with 500 X 5. Good technique is everything. I am 6’4" at about 275 lbs.

I started doing “rock bottom” squats just a little while ago. I think Chris wrote the article on that. I set up the power racks just about 4 or 5 inches from ass to the grass. Let me tell you these are tough as hell. I was squating parrallel at 275 for 8 reps. Doing these I switched to 3 rep sets and did 225 for my 3 reps. And those weren’t easy. I hurt bad the next day too. Has anyone else tried?

Mark, the doctor diagnosed me with petello-femoral syndrome. So I was icing my knee every day for two weeks and taking Anaprox for pain.

During these first two weeks, I only worked hamstrings and calves. The third week was an off week from the gym, so I did some biking, in-line skating, stadiums and sprints throughout the week. I only had a little soreness.

On the fourth week, I began doing the front squats. Not very heavy, and not for more than five reps. I didn't have any major pain or discomfort.

I’m off from the gym this week due to a very hectic schedule. I will resume again next week. I will be doing front squats and will see how my knee feels after a few sets.

My doctor has referred me to a PT, so I will be getting some rehab soon.

So I would suggest doing what doesn't cause any discomfort. And be sure to stretch! Definitely use this time to focus on your hams and calves. For quads, you may want to try some unilateral exercises as suggested by Ian King in his "Limping" series.

Also, when you are feeling less pain, add the squats and lunges to your workout. If the pain persists, you may want to try other activities that don’t aggravate the condition (biking, sprinting, skating, etc.)

Let me know if you have anymore questions!

Hi Jagin,
I use the extended eccentric (lowering) cadence proposed by the articles here in T-mag. Four seconds down and 1-2 seconds up. This really emphasizes control and intensifies the muscle stimulus. I had to lower the weight, though!
I have been scouring squat technique articles to try to learn the fine points of proper form. My gym has no freeweight squat rack, so I am forced to use the Smith machine. The track on this particular machine is slightly angled off vertical. Once you find the proper foot placement, forward and backward, the movement feels ver close to a free squat. I try to visualize a line running between the bottom ends of each track (the tracks that the bar rolls on), and place the arch of each foot on this imaginary line.
Foot separation and toe angle was the next big breakthrough. I was still feeling some stress in my kness, but had not injured them. However, my lower back was catching a lot of strain (I just started doing deadlifts to help strengthen this link) and I pulled it 3 weeks ago.
I just recently made a breakthrough in squats technique that relieved so much strain from my knees and lower back that I was able to make an immediate increase in weight while focussing the stress in the legs and glutes.
For years past, I performed squats with my feet spaced apart about the same as the distance between my armpits, and kept both feet pointed forward and parallel to each other. In the bottom position, seen from overhead, my thighs were nearly parallel, knees spaced about the same distance as my feet. I also placed the bar high on my back, close behind my neck. This form places my hips behind my heels and I have to lean over more to keep my balance, stressing my back and knees.
I widened my stance, turned my toes out, and moved the bar position 1-2 inches farther down my back. The stance width is such that each foot is centered under the outside edge of my delts. When I squat down, my knees come apart and from overhead, the angle between my thighs is about 75 degrees or so (not quite a right angle). This places my hips almost directly over my heels and my upper body is much more erect, relieving the stress tremendously in my lower back.
Now here’s the part that saves your knees: turn you feet in the same angle that you thighs point when you squat down. This prevents the knee joint from twisting. Another way to describe it is to imagine a line from your hip to your knee, in the bottom position. Make sure your feet are pointed in this same direction.
These changes have made an incredible improvement in the smoothness of my squat, and my back is starting to feel much better. I don’t notice the pressure nearly as much in my knees. I couldn’t believe how such a seemingly small change could make such a big difference!
I take it low enough such that my hamstrings just start touching my upper calves.
Another factor was learning to perform stiff-legged deadlifts properly, rotating the hips to keep the lower back flat and not rounded over. This requires more hamstring flexibility which I have been working to develop.
Now, whenever I squat down or bend over to pick up things in the garage or at work I practice using this form to reinforce it neurally so it becomes second nature.
Kind of a long post, but I’ve never seen much in print about the fine points of form and balance.
Good luck,
Mark

Thanks for the advice, Nate. Concentrating on hams and calves was pretty much what I had planned, but to be honest, I think it was the uni-lateral work that injured my knee in the first place. I can’t be certain, but it seems like the pain started when I began adding one legged squats (using a dumbell or holding a plate, balancing using a power rack) and one legged leg presses. Again, I can’ say for sure, but I think the lack of lateral stability was what strained my knees, as I’ve never had knee pain before. Just a word of caution if your going to try theses types of exercises.

MarkG, it’s interesting that you said you think your knee problem was possibly caused from doing unilateral leg exercises.

I was going to say the same thing, but I can’t be totally sure. Before I tried doing the unilateral exercises, I never had a knee problem. After doing two of Ian King’s 12-week programs, I noticed the pain!

So I’m wondering if there is a correlation. Due to the stress of unilateral exercises, and the position of the knee during the exercises, there is a good chance it caused the problem.

This is interesting. I would like to know if anyone has any feedback. I’ll keep you posted with my progress as well.

I just finished Ian King’s 12 weeks of pain leg program and I couldn’t me more glad that I decided to try it. At the start of the program was when I also started “relearning” squats, going all the way down. Man, I was shocked! I think that my glutes were quite underdeveloped because the deep squats made my ass sooo sore and my quads we not very sore (at first). The only problem I had was that I needed to do dead lifts 3 days later and never could because my ass was still sore…

I used to think it was sad if you couldn't squat a lot more than you can bench, now my 285 1RM squat has almost caught up to my bench!

I am curious how you guys train hams/glutes if it's a different day than squats..

Thanks for all the info guys! Well those people that perform half benches and squats with ego weight piss me off too. Then they look at me, doing less weight, and they’re probably thinking how much stronger they are, but why their legs are smaller… DAMN.

Anyhow, Louie Simmons says to sit back when squatting. Apparently the posterior chain (hanstrings, hips, lower back) are involved the most when sitting back. Thing is… isn’t this powerlifting? Is the squat just not meant to be a quad builder unless done improperly? Thanks.

Jamie: I’ve got the problem that my ass is expanding too rapidly! Hehe… I don’t know how to avoid that without not doing squat (which is NOT gonna happen). For the last month I’ve seperated my quad and ham workouts. This is so that I can train each very hard while keeping within 45 mins per workout. So far so good.

I hope someone answers that question, because i’ve been wondering about this since i started box squatting (which works great)

Jagin, the technique that Louie recommends is not just for powerlifting. In fact, Poliquin and King recommend a very similar technique. The proper way to do a squat is to extend the hips and ass back.

And yes, this is still for quad development! Sure, there are other exercises you can do that will isolate the quads a little more effectively, such as static lunges. But squats still rule as the quad builder.

In fact, I just received my "Un-Cut" newsletter from Ian King. There was an article about the squat, leg curl and stiff-legged deadlift and how it recruited the hamstrings during an EMG study.

The leg curl and stiff-legged deadlift recruit the hamstrings the most. With the squat recruiting the hamstrings about half as much as the other exercises. So this proves that the squat does hit the hamstrings, but it is not the best way to target them. So the squat is still a good quad builder!

Don't give up on the king of exercises!