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Terrible squat form


Hello everyone

I'm hoping to get some help with my squat form (video provided). Basically, it sucks. I fold over like an accordion & I have "butt tuck" as I go lower.

The first 3 reps were just trying to get down. The next 3 were trying to break with my butt instead of knees first. The last 3 were knees. Nothing really works.

I know I have tight hip flexors and quads, my glutes are also very tight. My ankles have some issue (although I don't know if it's tight calves or just an ankle joint issue) but I seem to lack the ability for my knees to move forwards without my heels rising up.

If I try to goblet squat with just 20lbs, my form looks perfect. There's seemingly no ankle/hip issue whatsoever because of the weight holding me forwards. I don't know if that will help anyone with diagnosing my issues.

Background: 2 years ago I had a short spell of lifting for a few months. Before that it was 5 years ago, where I lifted on and off.

I'm willing to answer any questions to help you help me!


This is my opinion:

You are doing a high bar back squat. So if that's how you want to squat you should not be pushing your hips back like you are doing a low bar back squat. When doing high bar you need to think vertical posture. In a sense just dropping straight down. You break at the knees and hips like at the same time. Just look in google images/youtube and you'll see the form distance.

Your first 3 looked the best even though you couldn't get down to a good depth. The others were just some good morning mixture thing. Also remember to stay tight. Since you are learning now just go slow, no need to move through the movement fast.

It also looks like you have tight everything. My suggestion would be do Joe DeFranco's Limber 11 (you can youtube this as well) everyday, twice a day if you can. And for the moment being do front squats instead. This will allow you to achieve good depth (until you can do a back squat with a barbell only with perfect form), help with flexibility and thoracic extension, and at the same time to teach you stay vertical and shoot up from the hole. This will be invaluable once you go back to back squatting.

Then once you get the form and flexibility/mobility down, then go back to back squats and you'll notice an instant difference in form and feel.

Now this is only if you are going to do a high bar (olympic style) squat. If you are going to do low bar then it changes everything I just said besides doing the Limber 11!


Thanks for the reply.

I try my best to stay upright but I fold over, I don't know why. If I don't I'll either have quarter squat and get no lower or just fall backwards. I don't know exactly what is tight that causes this (maybe everything?) I'll look into defrancos limber 11.

Thank you again for the reply!


Forgot to add to my previous reply...

Would goblet squats also help? I've used 20lbs to just sink into a full squat and held myself in the hole for about 60 seconds whilst pushing my knees out and keeping chest up. Think 3rd world squat but a dumbbell instead of a power rack to hold myself steady. Would this be okay or should I stick to 3rd world squats? Should I perform goblet squat reps in addition to front squats?


I've made clips of both front & goblet squats, and the forward lean is existent in both clips, along with my original back squat video.

I can conclude that my body leans forward to counteract my tendency to fall backwards- because the ankles have poor mobility (or calves poor flexibility), which stops the knees going forwards/outwards which would help me sit down into a squat (more of my body weight would be centered instead of it going backwards).

I tested this by squatting with a thick weight plate under each heel and performed the back/front/goblet squat much better and remained more upright- it looked like a real squat.

I'm sure everything else is still tight and should be addressed, I'm wondering what I can do for my ankles/calves. I have a list of the following but an unsure what would help:

Calf stretches (leg straight and knee bent)
Soft tissue work on the entire lower leg
Ankle drills (the one where you drive your knee towards a wall whilst keeping ankle down)
Pike calf stretches

Any insight?


Shoes with heels? I think ankle mobility is your biggest issue. Or, you know, just squat low bar. All the mechanics you're trying to emulate point in that direction. You simply do not sit back and try to stay upright at the same time.


I've tried squatting low bar, I tend to have the same issues, but the bar also feels uncomfortable where it is (just so used to having the bar higher up?)

I'll definitely look more into ankle mobility drills, I've seen a few videos by a guy (named Kelly Starett? Scarett?) on YouTube under "mobility WOD" who has numerous drills, some of which involve bands around ankles whilst doing wall ankle drills. I'll search some articles on this site too and see what general drills are out there and probably just try to work as many in to my daily schedule as possible- I'd figure the more the better for mobility and stretching issues?


I would suggest low bar squats, but you need to have your torso less erect when using that method. When you have the bar lower on your back, you basically fold your torso more so that the bar is directly above your feet.


You know what, it looks less awful than a ton of squats I've seen. Shift the bar lower (yes, it hurts at first, but you get used to it) and work on your mobility a little but not too much. Get a pair of flat, sticky soled hi-tops (Chuck Taylors, wrestling shoes, something along those lines) and squat in those. Really spread the floor: pressure should be on your heels AND outside the whole foot, and push your knees out throughout the whole movement. Keep chest up and upper back nice and tight. Together those will help with the buttwink. Don't worry too much about depth - get your hips below the knee and you're fine, no need to go ass to grass.

You are absolutely mobile enough to squat - you're managing with a bar, which can be hard if you're too stiff, so adding weight should just make it a tad easier unless you go nuts and stick double your bodyweight on it or something.

You do need to really work on upper back tightness (and possibly strength), because you'll notice your front squat sees you pitch forward very early on. I'd add in front squats as an assistance to your main squat work.

Don't do too much mobility work. It'll take too much time and energy. Take maybe three to five key drills/movements and do them for ten minutes (in total, NOT each) at the start of each session. Get a decent stretch after each session. Problem solved.

Best of luck


Alright. Stop reading articles. Stop all this mobility drill, 3rd world squat, ass wink nonsense.

Warm up. Put two 5lb plates under your heels, add weight to the bar and squat.


Personally think your problem is a lack of opening up your hips. When you goblet squat you are forcing your hips open so you can get your arms and the db clearance and you have no issue. But when you get the bar on your back you don't see that you need this to open. I am willing to bet just about anything if you move your feet out just a tiny bit and turn your toes just a tiny bit screw the floor focusing on opening the hips and pushing the knees out I bet you get exceptionally better positioning and depth with a lot more power out of the hole. Go to YouTube and watch Ed Coan How to Skwat video with Mark Bell if ya need a little more explanation on the opening the hips and screwing the floor. I plan on making a video tomorrow on it actually and if you like I can post it here.


So I tried low bar squatting after watching a few videos on bar positioning. I recorded numerous clips with varying foot positioning and watched each one to see where I was messing up- most notable was my back tightness- I could feel myself not holding it as tight as the first few reps.

This last video is me trying low bar squats with better (but probably not the best) back tightness, I find I'm still leaning forwards excessively- if you pause whilst I'm in the hole, the barbell is beyond the front of my toes instead of above the center of my feet. I also feel tightness in the hips as I'm going down, especially whilst in the hole. Also note the shoes, with heel lifts.

Q. In the low bar squat videos they say to lean forwards a little before beginning as the bar is set lower down. Is my forward lean too excessive?


Reed your video would be most helpful. I'll search ed coans video too


I am a rank novice experiencing issues with my squat form and I have started doing exercises targeting my lack of ankle dorsiflexion and the difference is substantial. I think you nailed it.

Tight ankles make it almost impossible to sit down in a highbar squat while keeping your lumbar neutral. This is why I was rounding. Add my newly acquired olympic shoes to the equation and I am seeing an insane difference.

I think the fact I have worn Dr Marten boots for the last few years exclusively might be an issue. Big heel, tied tight with paracord. Not exactly a good choice for ankle mobility.

OP try goblet squats and foam roll your hamstrings and stretch them daily. Other than that though your front squat seems pretty decent.


Don't obsess over an empty bar. The center of gravity of your upper body + the bar will be over the mid-foot. As you add weight to the bar, the CG becomes the center of the bar. Just make sure the weight isn't on your toes (on your heels is OK if you're wearing stable shoes). I saw a HUGE difference in stability and technique when I finally bought a pair of weightlifting shoes. I highly recommend them.

Stretching is a must before deep squatting. I do quad/calf stretches on a bench, then seated glute stretches, then hamstrings, and finally hip flexors (just for GP, they don't factor into squats). I run through that sequence three times, and then do goblet squats, wrapping my arms around my knees and trying to pull them in to my armpits while arching my lower back. This sequence really loosens everything up and allows me to drop into the hole without having to struggle to maintain a neutral lumbar.

Red, I was having the same problem with my work boots. Limited mobility and plantar fasciitis were killing me. I started lacing them up only to the tops of my feet, where you'd normally lace sneakers up to, and consciously started using more ankle flexion in day-to-day activities, and that's helped a lot.


Thank you to everyone who replied. Hopefully I can post an updated video one day with an improved squat from all the help I've received here!


Unfortunately I don't even have a good excuse. I just do it because I am a lazy bastard and rather than try and look decently dressed I just wear boots as they go with jeans and plain black tshirts and last me 5 years.


You're pretty tough on yourself.

Yes, you do lean forward a fair bit and it wouldn't hurt to reduce that slightly - but IMO all you'd need to do to fix that is push your chest up more from the moment the bar is on your back. For me, the cue is pull the bar into my back and pull my chest forward and up. It also helps me keep my upper back tight.

Tightness in the hips can be fixed - and I'd actually recommend pausing in the hole for a couple of seconds to do this. It'll also help you get a feel for staying tight at the bottom and staying in position.

Definitely don't worry too much about empty bar form. Stick some weight on and see what happens.

Also, to stay tight don't drop so fast. Like Reed said, screw the floor (I think of pushing it apart with the outsides of my feet), push your knees out (you should feel tension in your quads the moment you do this) and pull your butt down into the hole keeping all that tension while keeping your chest up. When you hit depth, lead with your chest and push your hips forward and really open up your knees while keeping on screwing/spreading the floor.



Have you tried front squats?

EDIT: So I read the rest of the thread and realized I was way late with this suggestion.

The front and goblet squats look much better than the back squat in my opinion. This can be an indication that your anterior core (rectus abs, internal/ external obliques, and transverse abs) are weak, or at least not contracting hard enough during your back squat.

In addition to shifting your center of gravity forward, the anterior loading with goblet and front squats cause a reflexive contraction in the anterior core, and when this happens people tend to be able to demonstrate far better mobility at the hips.

So in short, I think you're definitely on the right track with thinking you need to increase you ankle and possibly hip mobility, but I would add some anterior core work to the list. While you work on these things, I would focus on front squatting -- possibly to a box so that you can regulate and slowly increase depth.