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Why Can't He Go Lower?


Alright, I'll try to keep this fairly quick. I just started working out with another person again, after my last partner flaked out. This guy wants to lift seriously, but the guy use to run cross country and went through a big fat-loss after high school, so his intentions aren't necessarily to get hyooge. That being said, he doesn't know anything about lifting weights, and I'll let him tag along for a while.

Basically, started with A2G squats one day. He'd never done them. I figured there'd probably be some hip/lower back tightness and flexibility issues, but damn. I can hardly get the guy to go parallel. It's really starting to piss me off, because I almost feel like there's a lack of effort.

He can't even squat down low without any sort of weights on his back, though, so that got me wondering... do you think his years of running has affected his knees, hips, whatever? I tried to physically assist him squat lower, and his position at the bottom just won't budge.

Since I'm an asshole, I will probably freak out and call him a pussy if he doesn't start squatting lower - but I'd rather not do it if there's a physiological reason he can't do it, instead of a mental reason.

One other noteworthy issue is that I did have him try putting small plates underneath his heels, and that seemed to make it a bit more comfortable for him, but I can't see ALWAYS squatting with plates under your heels as being all that beneficial in the long run.

Anyway, if anyone has any ideas or tips on correcting the dude's form, and really any kind of thoughts as to what the problem may actually be, I'd appreciate it. I don't have my degree yet, so I'm not going to just start making assumptions out of thin as to what the problem is.


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If the plates helped, it may indicate a hypertonic achilles tendon/calf. Maybe this will help:


Beat me to it.


I just thought I would share my experience since I ran cross country and track and field in high school and also have trouble squatting. I ran for three years without lifting weights and in my senior year I began to weightlift.

I ran a lot of miles throughout those years and when I did start to squat, for some reason I could never get below parallel with any amount of weight on, even if I tried to do body weight squats. In order to get lower, I needed to rotate my feet outwards so they were not pointed straight ahead of me, and also keep a wider stance. Whenever I tried to squat with good form, like you said with your friend My heels actually needed to be elevated, and it felt like I was only working my quads, not my glutes and hamstrings.(Maybe your friend has the same issue)

Also, whenever I had a personal trainer or someone that knows what they are talking about try to help me squat, and I try to go down lower, it actually feels as though I will fall backwards, even though I'm not really out of balance.I heard somewhere that it could be a core stability issue.

Not sure if your friend has had the same experience and trouble as me, but to help get a little lower, I have to stretch out my hip flexors really good. I have the magnificent mobility dvd and some of the exercises/stretches in there also help.

But maybe what BBB and Patricio said can be true, because throughout the years I have pulled a calf muscle and had achilles tendonitis off and on for a long time. And whenever I went to buy new running shoes the person helping me always said I have tight calves. I will try some of those stretches and they look like they can help.

I guess I didn't really solve his problem but I just wanted to say that its not just your friend having that trouble, and it's not for lack of effort, I guess is just something that has to do with running for a long time and not stretching or lifting weights properly.


Here's some more calf stretches:


...The bent knee one at the bottom will hit the soleus.

I've tried a bunch of ankle/calf stretches to work on ankle mobility and this is what I've had the most success w/.


I had a workout partner that couldn't go low either. When he tried, his feet would tilt in, and by the end of the set, his toes were pointing inwards. I don't think it was from too much weight, because he couldn't even do it with the bar. I know it's not his fault, but I found it really annoying.


It took me a long time to realize that I could not squat low because of this. I always kept hearing about how my hips must be tight but I finally figured it out that my ankle mobility was restricted because of my tight calves.

What has worked great for me has been doing heavy straight leg calf raises (on smith while on a box or leg press) before I do squats. By holding the bottom position for at least 3 seconds it really allowed me to stretch out my soleus before squatting.

Also, I have always found front squats easier to go lower on.


Maybe he's going as deep as he can with what the good Lord endowed him with.

Nudge nudge, wink wink


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Great! Thanks a lot for the input, guys. I'll definitely have him start doing some of these stretches and exercises as soon as possible.

Sandbagger, what you're describing is almost exactly what's going on with him. I have suggested in him pointing his toes out, and that helped a bit, but just couldn't quite cut it.

Anyway, I (and my friend's calves) thank you all again for the feedback.


Yay, getting a cross-country runner to squat puts a tear in my eye.


I have the same situation, and also attribute it to poor ankle flexibility, previous achilles injury, tight fascia.


Hip Flexibility


What kind of stretching is recommended for someone with a tight lower back interfering with squat depth?


The lower back does not limit squat depth, as it should be arched (or at least slightly arched) throughout the entire ROM. If anything it's your glues/hammies that are tight, not your lower back.


Your feet should NOT be pointed straight forward, they should be angled (at least slightly) outward. Lots of people teach the squat that way, but it's not correct.


To second what someone else said about front squats:

After my ACL surgery, not too surprisingly I lost a lot of strength and ROM. It slowly came back doing squats and leg presses, but I was plateaued at about 10-20 degrees above parallel for my back squats for months which was really frustrating. I switched to front squats, which I found I could actually get to parallel, and after a few weeks of that, found that my back squat had improved as well.


Have him box squat until it becomes muscle memory to go that low.

If he's never squatted before, he has no idea what it feels like to go parallel.


the pigeon