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Trying to Learn a Powerlifting Style Squat


So, I've been training for a year. For several reasons (at the top of the list is being a pussy) I've not quite made the progress I believe I could have. I started my lifting journey at 6'0" 150 lbs, and I'm currently 210 lbs. My Squat/Bench/Deadlift went from 115/105/175 to 315/245/315, respectively. I accomplished all of this using Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength program, as well as using it to learn form.

It is becoming obvious to me that the form he describes, though simple in application (as it is intended to be), is not optimal for powerlifting. I don't claim to be strong, nor do I claim to be a powerlifter. I would like to be able to enter a competition for fun, and I'd like to be strong one day. I want my Squat form to be decent for a raw Squat.

This is from my last normal training session:

After a bit of fooling around, I realized the balls of my feet were being loaded, which (to my understanding) makes the lift far more quad-dominant. To begin training myself in a more PL-style Squat, I've decided to start Box Squatting. Today looked like this:

After this, I learned that rocking on the box is bad. I wasn't losing tightness, I was relaxing my hip flexors. I saw powerlifters doing it, so I assumed it "should" be done. I can box squat without doing this.

Anyway, I need some guidance here. Someone point me in the direction of obtaining better form for a powerlifting squat, please.

Thank you.


You need to come right back up once your butt touches the box and not relax your hip flexors. If you can't do this right now, I would lower the weight and just work on your form until you can get back up without rocking forward. As for the form itself, your upper body dips forward as you squat. This can be a few different issues, but I would work first and foremost on core strength. Planks, planks and more planks are key. Front planks, side planks, planks with motion, wheel roll-outs, etc...all these exercises will strengthen your core and therefore keep you stable as you squat. In addition, I would work on t-spine mobility...wall slides and external rotation. That will open up your upper back and keep it erect as you squat. If you're unsure of the form for any of these exercises, just search for them on youtube and you will find myriad demonstrations. Hope this helps.


When you say I'm dipping forward, you mean when I'm ascending, right? I'm inevitably going to lean forward, after all. The bar has to stay over the middle of my foot or I'm going to fall backwards/forwards.

Also, ignoring the 315 lbs and rocking forwards (which like I said, was intentional), how were the others? I notice I'm not GMing the bar as badly on the other videos, so I'm wondering how they are form-wise. 315 lbs wasn't a good form showcase, since that's an all-time PR for me.


To fix the lean: Get your posterior chain stronger. This is glutes, hams, and erectors. They are the muscles that pull you into hip extension. You are gonna lean some but fixing the muscle imbalance will prevent the wobbly thing you're doing. GM's, reverse hypers, GHR's. Second, look forward or slightly up, not down, and never move your head after you're locked in. Stay uncomfortably tight. And just practice sitting back in the hole instead of just down.

As for the box squats: They look pretty good to me. The whole point of a box squat is to sit back on the box and relax the legs and then overcome the static load. This builds power and helps the posterior chain dominate the movement instead of the knee extensors. Check out Westside guys doing these and read a bit about it for a deeper explanation. If you want to compete though, I would spend at least some time squatting to a box set to depth or just below to practice hitting the hole where you need to in a meet.


When you say "the wobbly thing," you're talking about coming out of the hole, right? I notice that when I start pushing out of the hole, my upper body collapses a bit and I do something of a Good Morning while ascending.

As for being set to depth, I've already got that taken care of. That box was to depth, though the angle may not accurately show it. The crease of my hip was actually an inch or so lower than my knee.


Yeah. It looks like the hips start moving first and shoot up and then your shoulders fall more than lean. When you notice the movement it throws you off balance and once you are more upright you overcompensate in some of the vids, causing you to look like you are wobbly or shaky in some parts of the lift. I was also referring to head movement during set-up though. You change head positions during set-up and during some of the reps. Every time the head moves, the neck and shoulders move, changing posture. This happens sometimes on the ascent too. If you keep your shoulders and head tight, there will be less awkward movement during all parts of the lift.

Overall good job though. you seem pretty aware of what your doing during the lifts. Practice and it will go away


The Rippetoe-style SQ is actually a decent way to SQ for a raw squatter. I'm not a big fan of the "head down, elbows up" style, but the lower body mechanics of how he teaches the SQ are very good. I know he doesn't advocate having your weight on the balls of your feet, so that's not because of the way he teaches the SQ, it's something your are doing incorrectly.
With all that being said, I'm not sure your issues out of the hole on your free SQ video are due to weakness in the back or "core". As soon as you drive out of the hole, you shoot your hips back instead of driving them straight up. That puts you in a terrible leverage position and thus contributes to your upper body collapsing. On your first couple of sets of box SQ's you drive your hips straight up (and not back) off the box and thus you don't see the same upper body collapse. I think the first thing to do is to fix your free SQ technique.

I don't know that box SQ's will really fix the issue. I've never found box SQ's to be very helpful for my raw SQ. I think they were useful when I was competing equipped, but not so much raw. If you fix your technique on the free SQ and are still collapsing under the weight (without driving your hips backward), then you might work more specifically on your midsection strength.