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Ugh I Bench as Much as I Squat

I don’t know what the fuck is up with my legs/back but I can currently bench almost as much as I can squat. Some problems I have when squatting:

A) it KILLS my spine. Like I can actually feel shit getting compressed/torqued in my spine. It also feels like it’s about to snap on most reps (even with just 135 lbs.)

B) My knees always jerk back and forth when I’m coming up out of the hole.

C) My knees are usually slanted to one side or the other when coming up out of the hole. (Instead of being a straight vertical line from my ankle to my knee, both my knees are slanted to the side, like the leaning tower of Pisa).

D) Coming out of the hole my body is never a straight vertical line. It’s like my shins are leaning one way, my upper legs another, my torso another.

E) I feel like I’m leaning forward way too much during reps, but can’t seem to do anything about it.

F) When I’m squatting I don’t feel like my legs are doing any work. My quads MAYBE; but overall my ass and hamstrings don’t even feel like they’re contracting or working. (I know obviously they must be if I’ve ever completed a rep).

G) After a set of squats my spine, and the muscles in my middle back right near my spine are very uncomfortable, it feels like they’re bulging or compressed or something.

OK, what the fuck do I do? I haven’t found any articles on T-Nation that really address any of these problems.

Could you take a video of your squat form for us?

It is quite possible atrocious form complements many, if not all, of these problems.

You Should see Dr. Squat immediately sounds like you have a yearsofbeachtrianingitosis. It will require enormous amounts of rehab work, including up to 3 days a week.

I think back squats are over-rated. I have some structural issues that make back squatting very awkward/uncomfortable, so I just front squat.

Front squats have done more for my legs then back squatting ever did.

You don’t always have to stick with the original to get the benefits, as long as you do a variation you are ok most of the time.

I second waylander’s opinion. I’m a tall guy, so back squats were always incredibly difficult for me. I never felt anything in my legs, but my back always took a beating. After switching to front squats, I can go lower and heavier with no pain.

x3…front squats will help you stay upright during the squat while you get your strength up to a point when back squats won’t be so difficult

quit doing squats, no exercise is essential for growth or development or even strength, if the risks outweigh the rewards then its not worth doing, there are tons of articles on here where you can find alternative leg exercises… some people just arent built right for squats

[quote]port81 wrote:
quit doing squats, no exercise is essential for growth or development or even strength, if the risks outweigh the rewards then its not worth doing, there are tons of articles on here where you can find alternative leg exercises… some people just arent built right for squats [/quote]

Instead of giving him the excuse “I’m just not built for squats” maybe wait to see a video (if nothing else a few photos). My guess is that not only is his technique not quite right, but has mobility issues. Also, if he can’t FEEL his glutes/hams, he may need to do activation work before squating. If his glutes aren’t firing much, no wonder his back is taking the load.

cueball

By the way, I sit at a desk all day and have had similar issues in the past. Glute activation has made a huge difference in my performance, along with the information in this article.

cueball

Jumping straight into back squats is fine for some people, and just frigging terrible for others. Front squats will really help with form, but if you’re having all kinds of issues, start with Goblet squats, then progress to front squats, then finally back squats. There’s a video of Dan John teaching some of this stuff that really helped my form in a bunch of lifts… found it:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6529481301858251744

IMO squatting is not essential for muscle development in the same way that cardio is not essential for fat loss. You can maybe get by without it, but it damn sure helps.

[quote]AccipiterQ wrote:
I don’t know what the fuck is up with my legs/back but I can currently bench almost as much as I can squat. Some problems I have when squatting:

A) it KILLS my spine. Like I can actually feel shit getting compressed/torqued in my spine. It also feels like it’s about to snap on most reps (even with just 135 lbs.)

B) My knees always jerk back and forth when I’m coming up out of the hole.

C) My knees are usually slanted to one side or the other when coming up out of the hole. (Instead of being a straight vertical line from my ankle to my knee, both my knees are slanted to the side, like the leaning tower of Pisa).

D) Coming out of the hole my body is never a straight vertical line. It’s like my shins are leaning one way, my upper legs another, my torso another.

E) I feel like I’m leaning forward way too much during reps, but can’t seem to do anything about it.

F) When I’m squatting I don’t feel like my legs are doing any work. My quads MAYBE; but overall my ass and hamstrings don’t even feel like they’re contracting or working. (I know obviously they must be if I’ve ever completed a rep).

G) After a set of squats my spine, and the muscles in my middle back right near my spine are very uncomfortable, it feels like they’re bulging or compressed or something.

OK, what the fuck do I do? I haven’t found any articles on T-Nation that really address any of these problems. [/quote]

Try something else. What happens when you do deadlifts? Try some lunges or Bulgarian squats. You don’t even have to do gobs of weight; you’ll figure out if you’re doing it wrong. Worry about the weight later and get the motion down. Then after you get all these down, then maybe go back to trying squats.

Look at this for your form, Tate’s squat over 900 lbs
http://www.T-Nation.com/article/supplements/squat_900_pounds&cr=

There’s probably some good legacy stuff on here for legs by Ian King. King will kick your legs into overdrive like in his “Limping in…” series. I [believe] most of those programs don’t even utilize back squats.

Thanks for the replies! I’m going to try and get a video of me squatting over the next day or two.

I wanted to add that when I do front squats I have the same leaning forward problem, even if I’m just using the bar.

Also, I can deadlift 430 lbs just fine, so I’m not sure if the problems I’m having stem from a weak back or not.

edit: I also am VERY quad dominant in lunges. My quads will be sore for a week after doing them, while my hamstrings and ass will be perfectly fine the day after doing them.

you only bench 135lb?

[quote]caveman101 wrote:
you only bench 135lb?[/quote]

?

I think he is referring to your statement, “even at 135lbs…”.

Have you looked at the Squat RX videos? They might be worth a shot.

cueball, unless he is a powerlifter then he does not have any reason to do an exercise if it doesnt feel right for him
AccipiterQ, its completely possible to make gains without doing squats, if deadlifts work better for you, then continue to work on those and find other alternatives for your legs, it is entirely possible to get bigger, stronger, and better legs without squats, and if squats are giving your body a sign to do something else then its best to listen at least for now, maybe you can fix a flaw in your technique but its not worth injury if it “kills” your spine

[quote]port81 wrote:
cueball, unless he is a powerlifter then he does not have any reason to do an exercise if it doesnt feel right for him
AccipiterQ, its completely possible to make gains without doing squats, if deadlifts work better for you, then continue to work on those and find other alternatives for your legs, it is entirely possible to get bigger, stronger, and better legs without squats, and if squats are giving your body a sign to do something else then its best to listen at least for now, maybe you can fix a flaw in your technique but its not worth injury if it “kills” your spine[/quote]

No one is telling him that he absolutely has to back squat if he wants hyouuuuge legs. And the suggestion that he should just stop squatting and not worry about it is stupid.

He posted that his squat sucks and he has a number of form issues. As a result, a number of people are making suggestions about what could be causing all of his problems.

If it is related to form/mobility/activation, not squatting isn’t going to make those problems go away. He needs to figure out what the problem is, work to fix it, and look into alternatives if he feels he needs to.

this is a bodybuilding forum, not a powerlifting one, if an exercise feels detrimental to your body then its probably a good idea to lay off of it, i suggested finding alternative leg exercises because they may be better for his body, i dont imagine you would have a problem squatting correctly at 5’3"

but even if he fixes his form he may develop some serious injuries due to how his body is made, his problem may be that his body is not built in a way that a heavy load pressing down on his spine works for him, since were not all alike then some exercises may not be best for everybody, and whats wrong with switching to something like front squats, many coaches feel that is a much better exercise for leg development due to the decreased load on the spine, (that may even fix those imbalances…) fighting through “bad” pain is a great indication that an exercise may not be worth whatever results you can get from it, maybe switching things around is the best advice for him

this is taken from an article with strength coach Robert Dos Remedios:
One of the first things we do is the bodyweight full-squat. I like to see what I’m starting with and a butt-to-ankles squat can often tell you a lot about an athlete. From there we might look at a single-leg squat as well.

I was recently asked what I thought was the number one exercise. I said a full front squat. I don’t think there’s another exercise that can tax so many muscles and work both upper and lower body flexibility at the same time.

We don’t back squat our athletes because I see back squats as more of a problem than anything. When we first made this change, we had a huge difference in load numbers. These days the numbers might be confused with actual back squat numbers with many, many athletes going well beyond 400 pounds.

front squats may increase your range of motion, keep you more upright (less forward lean, less back compression and pain) and work on any flexibility or stability issues you have