For most of my weight training career, I've done squats Olympic style (narrow stance, very deep). A few months ago, I switched to the powerlifting style (wider stance, just below parallel). However, this actually feels a little bit harder than the old style, which makes no sense, as I'm not going as deep. I sit back, push my knees out, and keep my chest tall, but I still stall out just out of the hole with puny weights. Any advice on switching?
I've been training for a year or two with the Olympic style, and my max with that was around 300. I haven't maxed out on the power squat, but I hit an incredibly difficult 260x5 today.
It just takes time to get used to. Your hip flexors are probably weak and can't handle the stress of a PL style squat. Hammer those and focus on hamstrings as well. Box squats should help too. Hope this helps.
I'm hardly an expert on squatting; however, I feel like I can shed some light as someone who HAD TO switch to wide stance PL style squats this year because of knee surgery. What the stance is doing is forcing you to move the weight with your hamstrings, glutes, and adductors more. It is more posterior chain dominant and you can't rely on your quads the way you do with an oly squat. I've been doing them for about 3 months and my ass has blown up, lol. It is also the very first time I've experienced DOMS in my adductors the day after squatting.
Honestly, what worked for me was erasing whatever stats I had in my head from more conventional squatting and treated it as an entirely new lift mentally and physically. And in a very short period of time I have passed up my old numbers. Just treat the 260x5 as your starting point and build from there.
A couple of things could be the issue. Its been stated before and I agree, hamstrings. Not even a weakness issue but more of an activation issue from being quad dominant in squtting up until you switched your stance. Make them a priority in training if you want to continue using a wider stance.
The biggest issues are going to be:
-Weak hip external rotators/abductors -Tight/shortened internal rotators
Close stance squatting doesnt require the amount of external rotation (i.e. when people say push your knees out or spread the floor with your feet) as a wider stance squat. Start doing every rep with your knees driving out has hard as possible. This will be very difficult to squat this way at first because your external rotators are probably very under developed.
The lack of external rotation puts more stress on your internal rotators, which should act more as a stablizer than a mobilizer. All the muscles that make up the medial part of the quad, adductor complex, and hamstrings become all bound up in one another. This is called a sliding surface problem. Restoring sliding surfaces is pretty easy but hurts like shit. This is where all of the foam rolling, lax ball, mobility, and any other soft tissue work you can get your hands on would be extremely beneficial.
So, my suggestion:
-Get your hamstrings strong as shit -Focus on external rotation when you squat- Knees out -Do hip mobility, with an emphasis on your internal rotators, every day until squatting feels comfortable with your new technique
How wide are you going? Raw and IPF single ply lifters tend to have their stances in a bit narrower than heavily geared lifters with exceptions of course. Granted, I doubt you'll want to go as narrow are your oly squat. Just my $.02
I'm going pretty wide--my feet are just a few inches inside the power rack. I was thinking that that might be part of the issue. I know that really wide squatting is usually reserved for people in multi-ply and those with larger frames (I'm 5'8"), but I wanted to try to take advantage of not having to go nearly as deep. Perhaps I should try moving my stance in a bit.
As far as the posterior chain:
I realize that the power squat is much more glute- and hamstring-intensive--I've been doing some work on these muscles, but maybe I just need to give it more time. My school has a few gyms, and the one with the reverse hyper and glute-ham raise is closed for the summer (so these beautiful machines are just collecting dust--sad, I know), but I've been doing some good mornings and negative glute-ham raises on the lat pulldown. Should I just continue to hammer these and maybe add some stiff-legged deads? I'm doing 5/3/1, so I'm getting a decent amount of volume on conventional deads.
And Mike, I'll definitely do some work on hip internal rotation mobility.
Thanks to everyone so far for your input. I'll keep everybody posted on my progress.
Plenty of PLers have gotten brutally strong without ghr's and reverse hypers.
P-chain builders: box squats (wide stance, different depths, bands/chains, etc) GMs (keep in mind there's a zillion variations each emphasizing certain muscles and/or movement patterns) rdl sldl conventional deadlift sumo deadlift rack/block/mat pulls deficit pulls back raises reverse hypers can be done on a swiss ball, I use this for recovery and prehab front foot elevated reverse lunges different kinds of hamstring curls (my favorite is the one leg swiss ball leg curl) pause squats (comp. stance, oly stance, whatever if it's paused your ass will be sore) one leg bb dls one leg bb stiff legged bb dls 2 db 1 leg sldl 2db l leg rdl 1db 1 leg sldl 1db 1 leg rdl
I imagine that right there is enough for a lifting career. What I do is that I pick a movement according to what I'm weak at and hammer it hard until it's no longer the weak link. And of course, don't forget the competion stance squat and DL.
Right now, the most important thing is learning what stance and setup fit you best and then hardwiring the groove for the movement.
edit: And of course what STB said. He knows his shit.
You absolutely should start out with a more moderate stance and move it out gradually over time if you still want to. You basically went, in relative terms, from one extreme to another. This is almost always going to be a problem.
We cycle in High bar Oly squats, and they are acutally used quite frequently at Jackal's as well, as an accesory movement so it's tough to argue with their usefulness.
However, what I have noticed is that after a 6-7 week cycle of high bars I am less comfortable performing a power squat initially because I have to basically hunt for depth until I learn to feel it again. You go from basically banging depth with some timed rebound to having to load up the hamstrings and hips and use them as the source of rebound which feels much different.
One of the things I have done to address this during a high bar cycle is I do bottom half squats 3x6 where I use my normal stance and bar position, descend to depth and then pop back up only about a third of the way and repeat with kind of a rapid cadence using moderate weight really focusing on utilizing my leg drive out of the hole and maintaining tightness.
Maybe I'm just crazy, but have you noticed that with low bar, you feel like it takes more time in the hole to build the necessary tension in the hams and hips to pop out of the hole. Whereas, in an Oly squat, you hit the hole fast and hard and pop up fast from the rebound?
Or maybe this is an issue with my form I need to address. Thoughts?
I also plan on adding a bunch of extra stuff outside of the gym, as I just bought some bands (perhaps this is a discussion for another thread, but I don't want to start too many) and have a pullup bar and dumbbell:
Chins Pallof press Band pull-aparts Neck work Waiter walks Dumbbell swings Psoas activations (raising foot off high surface) Whatever else I think of
I would try working in some sumo pulls too. It will obviously stress your body differently, but it may help you work your hamstrings in a similar fashion to the sumo squats, helping you sit back stronger. Also, bring your stance in and work your way out like others have said. I tried doing the same thing as you and regretted it (5'9"er here too if that's any consolation). Sumo squats are a whole different animal.
I just recently (~ 2months) switched to a low bar and began moving my stance out. I have since added over 100 lbs to my squat, so I think its a wise move. But the main thing that made it very hard at first and has helped more than any actual weight lifting has been lots and lots of hip mobility work: static anddynamic stretching as well as yoga type poses (particularly the "prayer squat").
There's a few videos on youtube and then a few threads on here I found those videos from and its made all the difference. That first month, I would be just laying around on the couch and doing 30 second groin stretches every 5 minutes or so because that was the most difficult part of the new form for me; my groin/hip flexor allowing my legs to spread wide enough and maintain that wide path as I would complete reps.
I would say don't squat so wide. There is a big difference between a wide-stance multi-ply squat and a raw squat. I think a lot of raw squatters get confused when they read elitefts and get tips that apply to multi-ply squats. Since you're doing 5/3/1 here's a video of Jim squatting in gear out of a monolift:
Its tough to see, but his legs are quite wide. This is designed to get maximum effect from the squat suit. Here's a video of him squatting raw (well, with knee wraps):
Very different stance. 5/3/1 for powerlifting covers this well.
Okay, so I moved my stance in a considerable amount, and that incredibly simple change made a huge difference. My hips feel a shitload better and the weight comes up much more smoothly. I'll keep working on external rotator strength and internal rotator flexibility too. Today was the first day squatting since receiving all of this advice, and I hit an easy 280x1 on my heavy week of 5/3/1, so I'll let you all know when I hit a new PR thanks to all of you.
I'm an olympic lifter and I switched to deep deep box squats for a while with my feet moderately wide (not all the way out, pretty sure thats reserved for lifters in a squat suit). This was because my knees were getting worn out and I had lost the flexibility needed to load the hips in an olympic stance squat. It definitely helped. My adductors were the weak and tight link and they loosened up fast. My hips and pull off the floor got stronger too. Now I'm back with oly style squats but I'm sure I'll sprinkle these in from time to time.
And yeah, treat it like a new exercise, because it pretty much is.