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Unwanted trunk rotation during squats...

Dear T-men/vixen,

I weight train with my wife, and although I am no expert, I tried to teach her what I have learned through school and other avenues of learning (e.g. boards like this).

Once in awhile, I notice a problem with her form or something. Usually, I am able to figure out what the problem is and suggest a correction, but right now, I’m stumped…

I’ve recently noticed that when my wife does back squats, the bar has a tendency to rotate about 15 - 20 degrees to the right (so that the plates on the left side of the bar are “ahead” of the plates on the right side of the bar).

Everything else about her posture, etc., seems fine…feet are neutral are slightly turned out, about shoulder width apart (or a bit more)…back is slightly hyperextended, head facing forward. However, she lifts with one of those pads that attach around the bar with velcro (to prevent the “pressure” feeling of having the bar across the shoulders and back). Normally, I don’t think these pose a problem for people, but she happens to be very small (4’10", 95 lbs), so I am wondering whether this wrap is causing her hand spacing on the bar to be too wide (although I’m not sure how this would affect stability in a negative way).

What else would be relevant to tell you…? She has been lifting for about 3 years now (as a recreational exerciser), and has made significant progress:

  • bench press of 65 lbs for 6-8 reps
  • dead lift of 105 lbs for reps
  • squats with between 95 and 115 lbs
  • does up to 6 (perfect form) chin-ups

If any of you has any idea what might cause that problem (which causes pain in her upper back), or what alternative exercises could be done, I would be very appreciative.


please bump…I am hoping for an answer

Sounds like there is some sort of imbalance. Whether it is strength or flexibility, I don’t know. Are her hips sinking back evenly and down to the same level? For awhile my right hip was tighter than my left, which caused a similar problem to the one you described. To fix it I stretched the hip, did unilateral exercises and started box squatting, which forced me to squat straight down, as opposed to slightly off center. As soon as I had the hip looser, the problem fixed itself. Just my two cents. Hope it helps.

I’m thinking a couple of things…

  1. Does her LEFT knee slightly cave in as she’s coming up?

  2. Does her LEFT knee come further forward than her right knee.

  3. Does she shift her hips at all when she’s in the hole?

  4. Are her feet evenly spaced apart? (ie. one foot is not under her shoulder while the other is wider).

I’m not sure if any of these things will make any difference, but they’re the only things I could think of. Hope it helps.

Maybe a muscular imbalance somewhere. Possibly with the erectors.

That is a small woman!


Definately an imbalance. Try holding the barr in the proper position while she’s squatting. After a couple of sets, the weaker muscles should be more fatigued than normal. Also watch for any subsequent compensation…
This won’t solve the problem, but it should give you an indication as to where to look.
Alternatively, you could just drop the weight until she can do them properly.

imbalance AND flexibility. How are unilateral lifts? One legged squats may tell you a whole lot. I just recently started box squatting and I had to step back a whole bunch. Glad to do it because I noticed some side to side shifting at point. Thighs, hammies, knees and lower back are a lot better now. Good luck!

I have had a similar problem, and after some inverstigation I was tight in my left upper trap,left pec, right lat, left quadratus lumborum, all of which resulted in torsion when I squatted.

The treatment - selectivly stretching these areas (PNF & METs) until the balance was evened out. Stretching was done 3 x per day and before workouts to reduce any hypertonicity in the problem muscles.

Also, I found it usefull to do some dynamic balance training prior to squatting (eg use a wobble board) just prior to squatting and deadlifting to “wake up” my proprioceptors so i felt more grounded when performing these exercises.

I have spoken to a number of CHEK practitioners and the tell me this is a common pattern of disfunction, but if not sorted out can lead to long term knee/hip/spine problems.

Take a picture of your woman :slight_smile: and use a plumb line to assertain if she is balanced posturally or lop sided. It may be part of the problem. (Ian Kings out of kilter series may help)

Hope that helps.

Thanks a lot guys! Those are some great pieces of info. I obviously have a bit of homework to do now (and another excuse to stare at my wife’s ass and legs while she is working out).

Hopefully, I will be able to give some helpful tips to somebody in return someday…

Personally I think it’s imbalanced oblique development.

Doing Oblique Raises with Twist on the hyperextension station will help in this instance.