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Squatting w/ Heels On Plates?

Sorry if this has been discussed, I couldn’t find it in search.

Are there any drawbacks or specific benefits to perfoming back squats with heels elevated (placing each heel on a 45lb plate).

I tried it last night and I felt like I could get a bit deeper into my squat this way, and getting deeper is something that I’ve been working on. Just want to make sure I’m staying safe.

Thanks.

yes it does help you get deeper because it can maybe help you stabilize. i have also heard its better for developing the vastus medialis (i probably slaughetered the crap out of that). thats the tear drop shaped muslce on the inside of your knees. good luck and lift hard and heavy

[quote]coolnatedawg wrote:
i have also heard its better for developing the vastus medialis (i probably slaughetered the crap out of that). thats the tear drop shaped muslce on the inside of your knees. good luck and lift hard and heavy[/quote]

Makes sense as I “felt” it more in that area than I normally do with flat (heels on the ground) squats.

Still need to get deeper though, that is for certain.

I’d say its a better idea to treat the cause of your problem than to work around it. I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but an inability to squat deep while keeping you heels on the ground is an indication of a tight posterior chain. Get your hams, calves and glutes to full mobility and you won’t have that problem.

Use it as needed, work on flexibility. It’s the poor man’s answer to Oly lifting shoes. A lot of the powerlifters and strongman competetors I know wear them, especially for close stance squatting and overhead pressing.

[quote]tdrink wrote:
Sorry if this has been discussed, I couldn’t find it in search.

Are there any drawbacks or specific benefits to perfoming back squats with heels elevated (placing each heel on a 45lb plate).

I tried it last night and I felt like I could get a bit deeper into my squat this way, and getting deeper is something that I’ve been working on. Just want to make sure I’m staying safe.

Thanks.[/quote]

Do you relly mean a 45lb plate? That sounds like a major height difference. All picture I have seen from trainers I respect are more 5-10 lbs.

TQB

[quote]Crispyknight wrote:
I’d say its a better idea to treat the cause of your problem than to work around it. I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but an inability to squat deep while keeping your heels on the ground is an indication of a tight posterior chain. Get your hams, calves and glutes to full mobility and you won’t have that problem. [/quote]

Exactly, especially the calves and ankles. Look up Mike Robertson’s “Bulletproof Knees” article.

[quote]Crispyknight wrote:
I’d say its a better idea to treat the cause of your problem than to work around it. I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but an inability to squat deep while keeping you heels on the ground is an indication of a tight posterior chain. Get your hams, calves and glutes to full mobility and you won’t have that problem. [/quote]

Well this is certainly the root of the problem. While I have good muscular development, my mobility and especially my flexiblity in my posterior chain are for shit. If anyone wants to point me in the direction of good exercises or a routine to help out with this I would appreciate it.

And actually it was 45lb plates. I’ll try the 5’s or 10’s next time.

Thanks.

I used to squat with with 10 pounders under my heels. When I first started squatting ATG, I used to get a sharp pain on the left side of my groin when I went past parallel. So I used the lifts for a while and then gradually stopped using them, doing most sets with the lifts, and then finishing with a lighter weight without them. Now I can go ATG just fine without them.

There are several different ways to squat. Using the 10 plates under the heels, close stance (10 inches), bar carried high on the traps, and ATG depth works great if you are targeting the thighs more than the hams, lower back and gludes. A lot of bodybuilders will use this style.

If you are targeting total leg size use the power lifting style squat. Flat shoe heels, much wider stance, bar carried low on traps, parallel or just below depth. Remember to sit back, not down.

[quote]SkullSplitter wrote:
…ATG depth works great if you are targeting the thighs more than the hams, lower back and gludes.

[/quote]

I am going to have to respectfully disagree with you, one of the advantages to squatting deep (or Olympic style/ATG whatever) is to involve the hamstrings and glutes more.

My problem with going deep into the squat is a balance issue. I can go deep with no weight, or holidng a pair of dumbells in my hands. But with a BB on my back, I cannot go deep and maintain balance, so I stop short.

I am a bit on the tall side (6’3") and am long limbed, so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it, but I just feel like a big gangly mess when back squatting with any significant weight.

[quote]tdrink wrote:
My problem with going deep into the squat is a balance issue. I can go deep with no weight, or holidng a pair of dumbells in my hands. But with a BB on my back, I cannot go deep and maintain balance, so I stop short.

I am a bit on the tall side (6’3") and am long limbed, so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it, but I just feel like a big gangly mess when back squatting with any significant weight.[/quote]

I have a similar build and feel the same way.

My solution: squat powerlifter style with a wide stance, and do front and zercher squats instead of back

The only joint angle you are changing with a plate under your heels is your ankle joint, so start with stretching the piss out of that. 45’s, that is pretty sever. Try some ball busting pnf stretches for your calves.

Yea usually it is calf tightness. One way you can check for sure is to keep your toes totally straight then do an ATG squat. See how far your toes have pointed out, because this allows you to get around tight calves. I agree with the other poster.

I am all for using techniques to improve strength and all, but honestly unless you have a genetic abnormality or an injury that limits your ROM around certain joints, it is pretty pathetic to have to put a plate under your heels because you are so inflexible you cant even keep your feet flat on the ground while you are squatting. I would view it as a crutch, but thats just my opinion…

[quote]HOV wrote:
tdrink wrote:
My problem with going deep into the squat is a balance issue. I can go deep with no weight, or holidng a pair of dumbells in my hands. But with a BB on my back, I cannot go deep and maintain balance, so I stop short.

I am a bit on the tall side (6’3") and am long limbed, so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it, but I just feel like a big gangly mess when back squatting with any significant weight.

I have a similar build and feel the same way.

My solution: squat powerlifter style with a wide stance, and do front and zercher squats instead of back
[/quote]

It’s not balance its your inflexibility. Your body starts to get tight doing a back squat the normal way and tries to change the mechanics to be forgiving to your inflexibility. Either that or your VMO needs alot more work. Since it is just a problem with back squats you might want to try stretching your lats out, they could be limiting you…

[quote]tdrink wrote:
My problem with going deep into the squat is a balance issue. I can go deep with no weight, or holidng a pair of dumbells in my hands. But with a BB on my back, I cannot go deep and maintain balance, so I stop short.

I am a bit on the tall side (6’3") and am long limbed, so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it, but I just feel like a big gangly mess when back squatting with any significant weight.[/quote]

Height is not the reason, flexibility and probably core strength are the culprits here. Possibly choice of footware as well. I’m 6’4" and have no trouble going deep for reps or max weight. When I first made the decision to “go deep” I started doing a lot of overhead squating. I also changed to Chuck Taylors for shoes because the running shoes I was using were “crushed” in a way that my knees were buckling. I lowered the weight and worked on form and went from there.

I have clients that I use a 5 lb plate under their heels during back squats. Agreed it is working around the problem instead of fixing the problem. However, when you get two to three hours with a person a week to get all the body improvements you can, flexibilty in certain areas can only warrant a few minutes.

I say use it.

[quote]tdrink wrote:
My problem with going deep into the squat is a balance issue. I can go deep with no weight, or holidng a pair of dumbells in my hands. But with a BB on my back, I cannot go deep and maintain balance, so I stop short.

I am a bit on the tall side (6’3") and am long limbed, so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it, but I just feel like a big gangly mess when back squatting with any significant weight.[/quote]

I think there can be a problem with ankle flexibility which can hinder your squat at the bottom of the lift. The ankle has a shallower angle between shins and feet if you have long legs compared to your torso, meaning your ankle’s have to be more flexible than a person who has short legs and a long torso to get to the same depth.

[quote]mofoshamrock wrote:
tdrink wrote:
My problem with going deep into the squat is a balance issue. I can go deep with no weight, or holidng a pair of dumbells in my hands. But with a BB on my back, I cannot go deep and maintain balance, so I stop short.

I am a bit on the tall side (6’3") and am long limbed, so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it, but I just feel like a big gangly mess when back squatting with any significant weight.

I think there can be a problem with ankle flexibility which can hinder your squat at the bottom of the lift. The ankle has a shallower angle between shins and feet if you have long legs compared to your torso, meaning your ankle’s have to be more flexible than a person who has short legs and a long torso to get to the same depth.[/quote]

Thank you for all the replies. I must say you are all very perceptive. I have had chronic ankle problems for years (multiple severe sprains and one break). I never equated squat depth directly with my ankle issues.

I will do more to stretch out the tendons and conective tissues of my ankles as well as work on their flexibilty. I may be at a point where they are “too far gone” and I’m not certain I will ever get full range of motion back, but I may as well give it my best shot to see if this will improve my squat depth. Thanks for the insights.