T Nation

Squatting With Chicken Legs

Stats first:

6’4"
215#
19%bf

I have had bad knees since puberty when I grew several inches in less than a year. I have always been told not to do squats (doctors and trainers) and for that reason avoided them completely and ‘if’ I did do legs it was extension or curls.

When I decided to do the WM I worked in sled squats (think that is what they are). Hurt knees a little, stopped at parallel, and it also wasn’t a ‘real squat’. I finished WM and thought I should continue with ABBH1 next with regular squats though not front squats (yet).

You were all right, this did not hurt my knees when I went past parallel as far as I could without tipping, but I am only using 85 pounds. Since I assume I should include the bar, I am adding two 10’s to each side for my 5x10 squats. This is seriously the weight I can use to finish the sets, and not go to failure.

What the hell? Now I realize that with a 36" inseam and nearly 220 pounds, already I am doing lots of work in addition to that weight, but humor me and say this is not terribly abnormal for a tall skinny-legged newbie? Should I have done different prep work before I started ABBH1?

Thanks

You’re tall. (Bad leverages.)

You’ve never squatted. (Untrained.)

You’re squatting deep. (Larger ROM.)

That’s three strikes against you dunking some huge weight right out of the gate.

Don’t worry about it. Focus on adding a little weight to the bar every session, even if it’s only 2.5 a side.

After this cycle, come back down in weight, then build back up. Repeat. I.E. if you get to 135# by the end of this cycle, when you start your next cycle, start with 90-95# and build back up.

Dan “progressive poundage” McVicker

Thats really not bad weight considering your leverages. As you put on some mass they’ll become easier. I think I’ve read on here that some coachs consider leg presses a better option for taller lifters to put on lower body mass, so you could consider them as a lift to supplement your squats.

Hey Man,I’m damn near your weight, but about 5 inches shorter. Anyway, I’m no pro but I kinda had the same problem you did. I just kept at it and did the squats(which I hated) anyway. It seemed like almost instantly my knee pain went away. Besides your quads will develope quickly and working legs hard releases hormones which will help the rest of your body grow. Good luck man. Peace.

I feel you man. There was a time that I absolutely dreaded squats, now I accept them as just a necessary evil. I’ve also heard that certain leg presses are ideal for us tall guys, but I’m avoid them like the plague. Hopefully some of the more experienced lifters here can enlighten us on the benefits of the leg press for long-legged freaks. BTW, here’s a great article on proper squatting technique:

http://www.t-nation.com/findArticle.do?article=287squat2

Don’t worry about how much weight you “should” be lifting. If it’s heavy for you, then that is the weight you work with. Don’t look at other lifters and compare. Progress is how YOU improve, not the guy next to you. Squats are intimidating, especially down in the hole. My advice is to squat often, varying the types of resistance.

Check out Christian Thibaudeau’s article “Super Beast.” It may seem overwhelming but try to work up to this type of program(if you’re really wanting to improve your 1rep max). This routine helped me get used to squatting and overcoming the dread of squats.

Never ever stop squating. Try all Kinds. Front,High back,low back,zercher,real hack, and especially box squats. Never substitute leg presses for squats. At your height your back will round forward if you take the leg sled to low and kill your back. Squats done right are absolutly safe. Yes they are hard but nothing compares. Do not worry about where you are now you will progress if you are consistent. Learn about your posterior chain and make it a priority. Learn how to develop your hamstrings.

Look all this up on T-mag

Again keep squatting

jsal33

These are some things that have helped me or that I have learned while trying to full squat at 196cm (6’5"):

  1. Proper form. Don’t sacrifice it for more weight - it will backfire. The most important aspects of squatting form for me are:
  • Use narrow hand spacing and keep the upper back tight.
  • Arched lower back, deep breath and sit between the legs.
  • “Pull” yourself down, rather then allowing the weight to push you; if that makes sense :slight_smile:
  • When you’re in the hole - think SPEED! Attack the bar with all your force, always, for warm-ups and work sets.
  1. Posterior chain and abs. Since you’re tall, you’ll need the extra work here. I do a lot of 1-Leg Back Extensions and Ab Wheel work (with a bar and 5kg plates), along with RDL 3x6 1x a week.

  2. Stretch hip flexors and hamstrings. They have to be strecthed daily, esp. if you’re sitting a lot. You don’t have to use a specific routine, just do it for a few reps of 10-15 secs. And calves, too.

  3. Front Squats. Doing Back Squats one day and Front Squats on another has done a lot for me. They seem to help each other out - FS helps with depth in BS and posture, while heavy BS makes FS weights feel light.

  4. 5x5 with 1 min rest. Take your 10-12RM weight, or about 65%-70% 1RM. Do 5 sets of 5 reps resting no more than 1 min between them. Do every rep with maximum force and speed. If you make all the reps, try 50 sec rest next time or add a bit of weight, but know that even 2.5kg goes a long way with these.

Hope this helps. Good luck.

I am 6 ft 4 1/4 inches tall at 220 lbs.
I wear 36 inch inseam pants.

I can not squat much weight also (225 for 5 reps to parallel). But on the 45 deg leg press I worked my way up to 850lbs.

Each time you lift add the smallest weights you can find. Over time you will get to the heavier weights.

About a month ago a guy 6 ft 5 inches tall was doing squats right after me. He was doing light day with 315 lbs. He said he would have to go up to his regular 500lbs max in a couple of weeks. He is now at Miami Dolphins NFL training camp as a linebacker.

There is hope for us taller people.

There are some good comments/ advice in this thread! Squats rare the King of exercises and with prudence, almost everybody can benefit from some kind of squatting.

I’m not tall and I love squats. Aside from some lower back stiffness after 15+ years (I’m increasingly cautious about lumbar degeneration from really heavy weights), I’ve never had an injury.

Although I like leg presses too (distant second, though), it was the very “rounded forward/ take the leg sled to low” thing that once strained even my short-man’s back.

Uh, okay, back to nutrition stuff now… Sorry for the thread hijack; I just tend to preach the squat gospel when possible. :wink:

Thank you for all the great feedback. I don’t plan on giving up on the squats anytime soon. Just don’t ask me to do lunges. I topple way too easily for to do those.

-jw

Try doing them holding dumbbells. That fixes the balance issue for me.

I usually hold one chicken leg in my teeth and put another in my back pocket when I squat.

[quote]jajward wrote:
Thank you for all the great feedback. I don’t plan on giving up on the squats anytime soon. Just don’t ask me to do lunges. I topple way too easily for to do those.

-jw[/quote]

Good advice so far.

If you suck at it (lunges), that means you should be doing it. Improving your balance will improve your squat.

You have about 175lbs of lean mass at 6’4". That’s pretty small. Don’t sweat it, though, just keep squatting and eating and you’ll get bigger and stronger - we all start from somewhere.

-Dan

[quote]andy bumphren wrote:
Thats really not bad weight considering your leverages. As you put on some mass they’ll become easier. I think I’ve read on here that some coachs consider leg presses a better option for taller lifters to put on lower body mass, so you could consider them as a lift to supplement your squats.[/quote]

I have some flexibility problems and a long inseam too, and at 6’2", I was about 190 lbs. a few years back when I came out of a period of extreme laziness to the weight room.

I found it very hard to stay flat foot squatting, and nobody I knew was into going to the gym on any kind of regular basis, so I had no spotter and didn’t feel all that right even in a cage. Additionally, I didn’t really know anything about squatting and was worried I would mess up a back that sometimes was a little bit “iffy.”

So I just did extremely lightweight squats, just to work on trying to get comfy with the balance of a squat and a get a feel for the range of motion.

But most of my work was on the leg press. I started off both the squat and leg press at next to nothing. But working the leg press and being sure to get the weight low enough that my glutes were involved, I worked up enough poundage in what felt to me a very safe and controllable way on the legpress to eventually also be able to work up my way to squats with 330 lbs. This was in less than a year, coming from chickenlegs so scrawny that I couldn’t count the nasty remarks I had gotten about them, there were so many. In less than a year, the legs were very far from spectacular, but they were good enough that wearing shorts wasn’t asking for humiliating drive-by insults anymore, and my legs actually got the occasional once-over by women.

Most of working up to that was on the legpress machine, with squats done only on and off haphazardly.

I think working up to doing squats is a great idea, and if at all possible, you should get yourself doing them. But if you have problems, all is not lost. You can still gain a good deal of strength and size doing something much more easily controlled, like leg presses, and there will definitely be carry-over to squats. General leg health is general leg health, period. It doesn’t matter how you build it.

Of course, expect to drop poundage on your leg squats compared to leg presses. Squatting is quite a skill compared to leg pressing, and your back is taking weight, too. Not to mention, you’re squatting the weight of your own body, too. It just involves a lot more than leg pressing.

So don’t feel like you’re a failure if you’re squatting 90 pounds as a beginner or if you drop 150 pounds off your leg press weight when you start squatting. Just squat! Take your time, warm up MORE than you think you should with stretches before and preferably after, too. Squats are a great friend or a terrible enemy, depending on how good your form and warm-ups and cool-downs are. Don’t let it intimidate you that other squat more; screw the ego problems of a typical gym. Just put in the time at the weight that’s right for you, no matter what it is. It’s a lot better than not squatting at all. And if you want to do other exercises to build up leg strength first, or in addition, go for it. Just try to fit the squat in there somewhere, when you can.

[quote]tall tom wrote:
I am 6 ft 4 1/4 inches tall at 220 lbs.
I wear 36 inch inseam pants.

I can not squat much weight also (225 for 5 reps to parallel). But on the 45 deg leg press I worked my way up to 850lbs.

Each time you lift add the smallest weights you can find. Over time you will get to the heavier weights.

About a month ago a guy 6 ft 5 inches tall was doing squats right after me. He was doing light day with 315 lbs. He said he would have to go up to his regular 500lbs max in a couple of weeks. He is now at Miami Dolphins NFL training camp as a linebacker.

There is hope for us taller people.[/quote]

Same like me, pretty much, except my inseam is 34, I’m 6’2", and when I started up squatting I was about 190. But leg presses gave me some the strength and confidence to get more and more into squats.

The only problem I think could be ego, for some guys, because you’re going to squat with less weight than you leg press. And you need to have back and glute strength for squatting that isn’t as necessary in leg pressing.

For a tall guy, including some deadlifting to work on the glutes and low back could go well with leg presses to build a more rounded lower body strength. That would be better than having leg strength way out of whack with lower back strength, and probably help a lot if you were wanting to work your way into squats by degrees.

just a small tip that could help a lot, make sure you find your comfortable footing before squating. Its different for everyone, but usually for tall guys its a wider then shoulder width stance.
Don’t do anything that feels uncomfortable, try to listen to your body chemistry, that goes for just about any lift.

Though this is my squat thread, I thought I would bring in my experience with deadlifts…they f’ed up my back. I was doing 10x3 and was doing fine using a light weight since I was trying to get the movement down. I was going down and someone jabbed a knife into my lower back. I looked and my wife wasn’t there so I figured it was the lift that did it. I could barely walk and when I did I had to shuffle my feet. Though I went to work after that, I left after a couple hours and now find myself laying in bed hopped up on 222’s. Thank you, Canada.

Assuming I stick with the squats, could I substitute leg presses on my deadlift day? If so, how should I position my feet for best effect? I won’t be going back to those for awhile.

-JW

I’ve fucked up my lower back more than once ;> At least I have some expirience in dealing with kind of injury you describe. Of course, I not a medical professional, and take everything I say with a grain of salt, blah, blah…

If you’re injured right now, I would start doing Front Squats instead of Back Squats to spare lower back a little. On DL day, forget about heavy lower back work, just try doing some light hypers and/or pullthrougs. Leg Press is a really bad idea, as I recall from some of the articles, it places a great deal of stress on lower back.

You could consider changing your workout until your back heals. This split has worked ok for me when I was injured not so long ago:

Monday -
Horizontal Push/Pull
light hypers/pullthroughs

Wednesday - Lower Body, as much as you can
Front Squats light 5x5 /1 min rest
DB Step-ups 4x6
RDL 3x15 (if can; if not, try Leg Curls)
Abs 3x15

Friday -
Vertical Push/Pull
light hypers/pullthroughs

I hope this helps. Get better soon.

I suggest you try doing shrug bar deadlifts. They are easier on the lower back than conventional deadlifts and great for the legs.