T Nation

Weak Link?


My Ass-to-the-grass Squats have perfect form for all but the last 2-3 reps.
Nothing big, my torso is still aligned perfectly and I have great core stability. However, I noticed my thighs tend to come closer together (adduct? abduct?).

Now, my common sense tells me there probably is a week link in my legs which is causing my legs to come close together in order to pull the weight up and finish up the last reps. Much like the scenario where your torso leans forward in the last few reps due to imbalance in the core and/or leg muscles.

Can anyone shine some light on what could be the nature of this specific imbalance, if it is such?

If it makes a difference, my feet are 1.5 feet apart, toes slightly pointing out. I also notice the a?duction in the lower part of the movement when exploding up (below 90 degrees).

My inclination is to believe my body is attempting to shift some of the load from the Quads to the Hams/Glutes, but I havent looked into it too deeply.


You need to consciously focus on squeezing you glutes by trying to spread the floor apart with you feet
(its adduction when you knees come towards your body's midline)


Good question. I kept hurting my lower back at the top end of my deadlift cycle. Did some tests and found that my gluteus medius and vastus medialis are dreadfully weak. Added some lunge work, step ups, one legged deads. Also started to go deeper in squats. Thought I was as deep as I could get. Am also terminating sets before technical breakdown and adding a bit more volume. Hope you find your achilles heel.


Hey Diesel23,
Maybe you don't want to hear from me since you thought I wasn't being serious on a somewhat similar thread over in CT'S "lair", where you seemed to analyse things pretty hard on that persons squat trouble.
How have you been training your legs for the last 6 months to a year / roughly what exercises and volume?
What percent of 1 RM and volume are you using currently?


Not at all T-Ren.

For the last 6 months my focus has been mostly compound lifts. Squats, deadlifts, stiff-legged deadlifts...
Up until last week my Leg Routine consisted of 5 sets squats (albeit to parallel only), followed by 5 sets regular deaddies, and seated calves - Squats in the 6-8 rep range, deads in the 4-6 range.

My new routine consists of ass-to-the-grass Squats (5x10) followed by Glute/Ham Raises (5xAMAP), and calf work.

Do the abductors belong to your Quads, Hams, or both?
Also, what are the focus muscles in a sissy squat (both legs very close together) and what are the focus muscles of a very wide squat? This might give me an idea of what could be the weak link.


Diesel, the focus muscles for sissy squats are quads, for wide squats are hip dominant legs (glutes, hams, adductors).

I see lots of clients who draw their knees in when they change direction in the squat. Whetu is right on when he says to focus on the upward drive by squeezing your glutes. IMO it is an initial contraction of the quads instead of an initial contraction of the glutes that causes the pulling in of the knees on the upward drive of the squat.

Since your first few reps are not a problem, then one corrective measure that might be effective is simple visualization and mental attention to the last reps of your set.

Here is an excerpt from an excellent article by Teri Warner and Jim Wright, titled The Perfect Rep, giving a visualization you can try:

As your glutes move back and your hamstrings stretch, think of returning to the start position by pulling with your feet as though you're wiping mud off your shoes on a mat. Your feet won't move, of course, but that thought process and pulling movement will help you learn to activate your upper hamstrings, potentially the most powerful of all the hip extensors, and enable you to use them more effectively during thigh, hamstring and low-back exercises.

On the second half of the movement, think hips forward, wipe feet. You want to think hip extension, not knee extension, as you return to the standing position. The movement shouldn't be explosive but rather smooth and controlled as your hamstrings open the hip joints.

I hope this helps.



Your problems are most likely due to weak/inhibited gluteus maximus/medius due to tight adductors and iliotibial band (IT) bands.

On a side note, you should know what all of these movements and muscles are BEFORE you become a personal trainer. This isn't a flame, but it's important stuff to know if you're going to insist that your clients practice what you preach. That said, I would encourage you to pick up a copy of "Manual of Structural Kinesiology: 14th Edition" by Thompson and Floyd.


You'll have to forgive me if I've never done Leg adductions/abductions.

And yes, Eric, I do have pretty darn good knowledge about what muscles are involved and general anatomy and physiology.

You'll also have to remember, up until now I couldnt give two shits about anything that didnt apply to me. Now that I do, I spent hours on end doing research so that I can pull all information I need for a Client right off the top of my head. It's a process that develops and evolves with time - and I'm sure you wouldnt expect a Trainer with 1 week experience to pull off a Poliquin act right off the start would you.


Diesel, if you need to ask this question:

"Do the abductors belong to your Quads, Hams, or both?"

You do not have a "pretty darn good knowledge about what muscles are involved and general anatomy and physiology."


Honestly, if you dont know the difference between abduction and adduction your knowledge of anatomy is not that great. It sounds like your hips are weak like Eric said. One thing that has helped me is doing ABductions with a miniband or light band while sitting on a low box. You can do these before you lift for a couple of holds of five to ten seconds to better feel how to push out to activate the hips.


Adduction/Abduction was never my area of expertise.

nervous laughter


Well, Big Daddy Diesel, maybe you should go ask those big hipped women doing the "chick exercises" which is which.:slightly_smiling:

Seriously, brother, while you're taking a bit of knocking--and perhaps rightfully so--it's good that you're being open about the situation as it's going to positively impact your own and your clients' training.

I think things have been pretty well explained to this end. Just to reitterate the potential consequences of this, though. Your adductors are having to take on the extra load at the point where your knees are closing in together because your abductors are weak. This is likely going to lead to some kind of medial stress and possible injury because of the excess load that the muscles, tendons and ligaments are taking on due to compensation.


FYI, abduction and adduction also occur at the glenohumeral joint, wrist, fingers, and toes.

With adduction, just think of adding to the midline of the body.


Eric - right on and makes me recall my early days as a Trainer and how I remembered how to distinguish "adduction" from "abduction":

ADDuction: ADD to. And ABduction was the opposite - taking or moving away.

Pretty simple, really.


EC is so correct. FYI way the abduction machine in the gym hits more your Piriformis muscle then your abductors.


I always remember abduction better - you are "Abducting" something from your body, like taking it away from mainline. Same reasoning with adduction.

Diesel - I think it's your 3rd leg that is weak. Can we call you tripod?

yeah, weak joke, but I laughed.