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What Balances You When You Squat?

My max Olympic squat was 105kg in socks, however, I CANNOT bodyweight squat

I can do with at least 50kg or goblet squats but i cant seem to do them without weight. What realy balances us out when we squat?

The first time I did an a squat was after i powercleaned 50kg and tried squatting it for fun.

Also my friend isn’t even strong enough to do 40kg

So what actually balances us out when we squat?


i’d be very surprised if you had a respectable looking 105kg olympic squat if you couldn’t bodyweight squat.

could be that your ankle flexibility is lacking… vids would help a lot.

you have a center of gravity around your hips / navel. that needs to be over your midfoot in order for you not to fall on your ass. you can compensate by using your muscles a bit… but not heaps.

that is why people have problems squatting powerlifting style (sitting their asses back) when they don’t have weight. they have a tendancy to fall on their asses.

holding a weight alters the center of gravity. forwards or backwards depending on where you are holding the weight. you could strategically place it to prevent you falling over even though you can’t squat without it.

e.g., powerlifting style when the bar is in a low bar position one can sit ones ass back and lean the torso forwards enough for the bar (the center of gravity) to be over the midfoot - when the weight is heavy enough.

olympic style the idea is to have your torso as vertical as possible. so… i don’t see how loading should affect balance… if things are in proper alignment in the first place.

Alternating reverse lunges with breathing.

Breathe in deeply, arch back and push out chest. Breath out while keeping chest up and back arched.

Lower yourself while inhaling deeply, focus on pushing the back foot rearward and keeping trunk upright, chest up, and back arched.

Feel the stretch in your hips and readjust if you need to. At this point you can exhale and breathe in deep again while keeping your chest up and back arched.

Push through your entire front foot and exhale as you go through the sticking point. At the top exhale fully.

Repeat with other leg.

Over time you will be able to remove the extra breathing, but if you need to reset your position at the top or bottom, the extra breathing helps. Do not try to go to failure, you are better off leaving reps in the hole and focusing on form. Simply do more sets if you have to. This also works well as a warm up.

Here is an article on breathing:

You obviously have flexibility issues, this drill/exercise I recommended will fix that fast, do 30-50 reps per leg each day in sets of 5 reps per leg. You can split it into 2 miniworkouts. I guarantee that in a week or two your flexibility will drastically improve as will your muscle control. BTW I parallel squatted nearly twice what you did and still could not do a proper bodyweight squat when I was young and dumb (just so you know I am not talking out my ass), I was around 180.

Also foam rolling any tight muscles or spots will go a long way in keeping you mobile.

If you want to do squats without weight, you have to stick your arms out forward, like the top of a front shoulder raise, and then overlap one hand over the other. That moves your center of gravity far enough forward to keep you from falling backwards.

When doing back squats, I think what balances you is the natural tendency to lean forward. This moves the heavy bar from behind you to being lined up vertically with your heels.

When doing front squats, the entire body is upright, so everything is vertically lined up, plus your core is firing up to keep you that way, making you balanced.

Keep in mind, I’m new, but this is what I’ve observed from squatting myself. Just try sticking your hands out in front like mentioned above to do bodyweight squats.

I am not an expert in human mechanics but me too I find squatting w or w/o bar different. I couldnt squat w/o weight before but now I can. I often squat down and relax in this position when I am tired of standing. Search for “the third-world squat” article here to find ways to learn to squat down.

This really depends on your anthropometrics(I think this is the right word).

[quote]alexus wrote:
i’d be very surprised if you had a respectable looking 105kg olympic squat if you couldn’t bodyweight squat.


Took a video a long time ago of me doing 60kg and it looked really good. I watch squatting videos all the time on youtube and compared it. The more weight the better the balance

My hamstrings are very flexible as I can put my chin to my knee when i raise my foot to about chest height. Can’t really find a way to test hip flexor flexibility

My friend can squat PERFECT and he just started. he has terrible hamstring flexbility but he can do it.

Someone suggested the third world squat and im trying that everyday now.

what i’m questioning is whether you are doing an olympic (upright torso) squat.
people do find that adding a load assists the powerlifting (sitting back) squat but i’ve never heard of anybody saying that adding a load assisted their olympic squat and it doesn’t make sense to me how a load would help that.

if you are doing a sitting back style squat and you want to learn how to keep your torso more upright:

you want open your hips so you can pull them forwards more (bringing your center of gravity without load) over your midfoot. that should be a balanced and stable position. with your arms out in front makes it a little easier, yes. should be possible to hold them up with a broomstick over your traps too, though.

i am a little wary… perfect is the enemy of good

[quote]clean and squat wrote:
Can’t really find a way to test hip flexor flexibility
lay back on a hard bench. The edge of the bench should touch the middle of the back of your thigh. Now raise one leg up and, grabbing your knee and pulling, move it toward your chest. Pull until your back is flat on the bench (no arch). If your hip flexors are tight, you’ll pull your other leg up off the bench.

I have to go through a pretty extensive warmup to be able to hit rock-bottom without a loaded bar on my back. The motor patterns are completely different. For bodyweight only, you have to relax all those muscles that need to be tensed when squatting loaded. I actually have gotten stuck at the bottom because of relaxing when I should have been tensed (with a light weight) from doing those drills.

It is completely possible to squat too low, and limit how much weight you can use. I can ATG 315x5, but got stuck with 185. You have to fire before you get to the bottom. Bouncing off your calves with no tension on the front of the knee is a recipe for disaster. Your calf acts as a lever fulcrum, and tries to pull your knee apart. Tension on the quads, across the knee joint, counteracts that pull and keeps your knees safe.

if you can squat 100kgs why would u even bother to bw squat? just sayin :slight_smile:

[quote]alexus wrote:
what i’m questioning is whether you are doing an olympic (upright torso) squat.
people do find that adding a load assists the powerlifting (sitting back) squat but i’ve never heard of anybody saying that adding a load assisted their olympic squat and it doesn’t make sense to me how a load would help that.[/quote]

Well it’s weird because when I used to sit back I used to lose balance.

A lot of people have been saying that its ankle flexibility. Does that mean I can get into position but that is actually pushing me backwards?

It is more complicated than just the flexibility of one joint. It is also a matter of how muscles work together as a whole. Someone with tight hamstrings may be able to squat well due to reciprocal inhibition of this tight muscle by other muscle groups, namely quadriceps and glutes, but also hips stabilizers and lower leg and foot muscles.

I would stop looking at videos and focus on feeling your way through the movement. This will take longer than you think, but when you get it, your squat will go up and you will not lose this new-found control and flexibility. It will likely also transfer to your body weight abilities.

JayPierce and alexus have provided excellent info. The drill/corrective exercise I described would help you immensely. Stop thinking your way through it and try to feel it. Do the exercise alexus or I recommended and then work on practicing your body weight squat. After that work on you squat with less weight. If you do this, several months from now you will be squatting more weight with ease and be able to do body weight squats.

Whatever you do, do not face a mirror while practicing any type of lifting. They are solely for checking your guns and cute ladies’ butts.

If you post a side on vid of your weighted and unweighted squat people would be in a much better position to diagnose what is going on for you.

What people THINK they are doing and what they are ACTUALLY doing often look very different. Vids are the only way to know since we can’t see you in person.

I suspect that you aren’t anywhere near as upright as you think you are (even if you do understand that an Olympic Squat is DEFINED BY the relatively upright position of the torso and hitting an ATG position).

I suspect that you don’t have the flexibility / muscular recruitment that is required for you to squat unweighted in a balanced fashion (probably because you can’t open your hips to drop BETWEEN rather than BEHIND your legs AND/OR because you lack the ankle flexibility to let your knees drift forwards sufficiently to drop BETWEEN rather than BEHIND) your legs. Or because you don’t understand that an unweighted or olympic squat requires you to sit BETWEEN rather than BEHIND your legs.

So you are sitting your ass BACK (which is not an Olympic Squat at all) which leads to your losing balance backwards when you don’t have a bar shifting your center of gravity forwards to a balanced position.

You could of course prove me wrong by posting vids which show you to be doing a competent Olympic Squat both with weight and as best you are able without (so we can see at precisely which point your balance shifts backwards) in order to figure out why.

Thanks for the help.

I always train with somebody if I ever do a bad rep, he’ll tell me. I point my toes out to about 30 degress which helps me drop in between my legs.

But with all the knowledge I have I will try and fix it myself. I only tried to bodyweight squat just 2 days ago but I never tried to fix it. But thanks for the help.

Im too scared to post videos haha but maybe in the future

don’t be scared of posting vids! you can blotch out your face or set the camera up so you aren’t readily identifyable if that is a concern. i’ve pretty much learned how to lift via feedback i’ve got from this site. nobody worth a damn will laugh at you - everyone worth a damn respects the effort you are putting in to working to improve yourself.

even if you don’t want to take vids and post them here they can be a great learning tool for yourself. i thought my front squat was really very upright but vids told me otherwise and i was surprised at how much work i needed to do. how much work i still need to do. still, if you don’t know you can’t work towards improving things.

i’m sure you will figure it out it time, though.

[quote]clean and squat wrote:
My max Olympic squat was 105kg in socks, however, I CANNOT bodyweight squat

So what actually balances us out when we squat?[/quote]

you will want to have a coach review your squats. my friend that is an olympic coach starts everyone with a broomstick and sticks with that till they can squat ATG and do cleans and snatches ATG properly before they add weight.

back when i was training people no one did bar squats with me until they could squat bodyweight only with their arms above their head in a diving position, with their feet 1-3 inches from a wall and break parallel. after that i knew i would have no problems worrying about form. and it would give me time to start to strengthen the glutes so they would not squat morning once we did add weight.