T Nation

Why Do You Squat the Way You Do?

There’s a lot of different squat styles out there each with some big lifts associated with them. What I was wondering is how you ended up with the style you have and why you think it works for you.

I’ll start. I’d call myself something between a beginner and intermediate so I’m still trying to figure out what works well for me. But anyway here goes. Currently, I’m experimenting with using about a .5in heel lift with sitting back ever so slightly then pushing my knees out hard and trying to stay upright and tall. I do this with a shoulder width stance and high bar placement. I feel like it gives me the best bounce out of hole which is where I’ve been the weakest in the past.

I squat fairly close stance and high bar.

I try to keep my knees as much IN as possible. I know that they recommend “keep knees out” but i have never had problem with knees caving in. Seems to be common problem for others but never for me. I have always had opposite problem - knees too much out. I past did kind of like frog squat. Eventually i get groin injury if i forget to press my knees in. Close stance and keeping knees in saves my groin. It allows to squat very deep as well.

High bar i prefer because it is safer for shoulders. I have tried low bar several times as well. It kind of works i can squat about 3 months without problems but finally comes bad workout and shoulder is fucked up again. High bar allows more vertical back angle as well.

I am not very good squatter but it is at least progressing now and i do not have injuries anymore. In past i tried to follow more common powerlifting style squat and had problems everywhere - mostly groin but also left shoulder, left knee, back etc. And of course no progress whatsoever.

I squat high bar, with a close grip and generally about half way from hip to shoulder width foot placement. Doing so lets me go ass to calves and as a result it helps me get out of the hole when i squat parallel.

Its also the only way I’ve been taught and/or shown. I’ve seen low bar before but I dont know how to, nor really want to either.

I squat with my heels right about shoulder width, toes pointing out, and really push my knees out. I train mostly the high bar placement with a medium grip. When a competition is near I’ll switch to low bar and a wider grip, but keep everything else the same.

Edit: Forgot to say why…

There are several reasons why I train high bar.

  1. Easier on the shoulders
  2. Gets my quads much more involved than low bar.
  3. Its like an extended ROM squat compared to LB, and those kind of lifts always help me(Close grip bench, deficit deads…etc)
  4. It always brings up my LB squat.
  5. Since I’m training with lighter weights than LB, it allows more recovery for deadlifts.

I squat in oly-type shoes, but I squat in between high and low bar, and with a pretty wide stance. Not so wide that I feel I’m going to fall forward, but wide enough that I get a lot of utility from my hips in the concentric portion. I keep my toes pointed roughly at 45 degrees out.

Currently, I use a low-bar squat with my feet about 4" apart. I arrived at this style after beginning my squat training with a normal shoulder-width stance and slowly narrowing it over time. I made this decision simply because I felt stronger each time I narrowed my stance.

I made a video a while back to track this:

[quote]KyleKeough wrote:
Currently, I use a low-bar squat with my feet about 4" apart. I arrived at this style after beginning my squat training with a normal shoulder-width stance and slowly narrowing it over time. I made this decision simply because I felt stronger each time I narrowed my stance.

I made a video a while back to track this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysceG-KUjss [/quote]

This is terrifying to watch the amount of stress this puts on your knees and lower back is unbelievable. Good for you for making it work for you though.

Feet just outside shoulder width, toes out maybe 20 - 30 degrees, low bar, sit back first but push knees out and slightly forwards almost immediately after, fall between knees until belly touches upper thigh (that’s my cue to know I’m 3-4 inches below parallel), think about pulling the chest out of the hole first (this cue needs to be reinforced), make a double chin (helps with the chest up first cue and stops me chucking my head back and bending my neck), squeeze glutes like crazy on the way up, and focus on getting the hips forward instead of just straightening the legs.

Used to squat high bar, but pulled a trap muscle unracking a warmup weight one day, discovered low bar didn’t bother the strain, and haven’t seen a need to go back yet.

I box squat, more so than any other squat. It keeps my form in check, develops raw muscle strength, maintains my depth (I always know how deep Im going) and is adaptable (high, low or parallel).

Oh and I don’t do the “sit back back back back back thing”. I squat straight down, breaking at the hips then following with the knees. I know thats not the intent of box squats, but I don’t plan on competing and just want strong legs and glutes.

I squat low-bar, moderate stance, and with my toes pointed out about 35-40 degrees. I used to squat with a wider stance, but my hips would lock up and I would always end up squatting about 3" high. I’ve brought my stance in about 6-8" over the last year.

CS

[quote]clutz15 wrote:

This is terrifying to watch the amount of stress this puts on your knees and lower back is unbelievable. Good for you for making it work for you though.
[/quote]

I’ve never had any knee or lower-back pain from training. So, I have no idea how you came to this conclusion, but thanks for the back-handed compliment.

[quote]KyleKeough wrote:
Currently, I use a low-bar squat with my feet about 4" apart. I arrived at this style after beginning my squat training with a normal shoulder-width stance and slowly narrowing it over time. I made this decision simply because I felt stronger each time I narrowed my stance.

I made a video a while back to track this:
[/quote]

Did you have work on mobility to be able to squat like that? I’ve tried squatting like that and I find myself physically unable to with or without weight.

[quote]KyleKeough wrote:

[quote]clutz15 wrote:

This is terrifying to watch the amount of stress this puts on your knees and lower back is unbelievable. Good for you for making it work for you though.
[/quote]

I’ve never had any knee or lower-back pain from training. So, I have no idea how you came to this conclusion, but thanks for the back-handed compliment.[/quote]

It is physically impossible to keep yourself upright that narrow and biomechanically you can’t sit into your hips. You naturally bind up in the hip joint and have to get depth by tucking your hips and sliding your knees forward. Like I said though there’s no cookie cutter way to squat and you’ve found a way that allows you to be successful and move some significant weight.

I squat high bar and somewhere between narrow-medium stance. I don’t squat low bar because I feel like my shoulder will shatter every time I try it. I was squatting parallel until recently where I’ve decided to go ATG to switch things up. This allows me to go lighter and let my knee relax a little. It also allows me to train some serious rest pause style with this. Never felt my quad this fired up in a very long time.

Seems like there’s a few people who don’t squat low bar because of shoulder problems. That’s why I went high bar as well.

I forgot to mention that I only point my toes out maybe 25-30 degrees. I feel like I can recruit my hams and get more hip abduction which helps pop me out of the hole. Seems to prevent knee valgus too.

High bar, moderate stance, slight sit back and then straight down with knees out hard (Just outside shoulder width), fast descent to as deep as possible. Tried sinking slower and it just doesn’t feel like I get a stretch reflex out of the hole.

[quote]Fletch1986 wrote:

[quote]KyleKeough wrote:
Currently, I use a low-bar squat with my feet about 4" apart. I arrived at this style after beginning my squat training with a normal shoulder-width stance and slowly narrowing it over time. I made this decision simply because I felt stronger each time I narrowed my stance.

I made a video a while back to track this:
[/quote]

Did you have work on mobility to be able to squat like that? I’ve tried squatting like that and I find myself physically unable to with or without weight. [/quote]

No, but it was a slow transition over time, so I imagine that (squatting slightly narrower every few months) was my mobility work. I also think that, for either extreme–really wide or really narrow–you have to be uniquely proportioned to be able to pull it off. I have pretty short femurs, and that seems to really help.

[quote]clutz15 wrote:

[quote]KyleKeough wrote:

[quote]clutz15 wrote:

This is terrifying to watch the amount of stress this puts on your knees and lower back is unbelievable. Good for you for making it work for you though.
[/quote]

I’ve never had any knee or lower-back pain from training. So, I have no idea how you came to this conclusion, but thanks for the back-handed compliment.[/quote]

It is physically impossible to keep yourself upright that narrow and biomechanically you can’t sit into your hips. You naturally bind up in the hip joint and have to get depth by tucking your hips and sliding your knees forward. Like I said though there’s no cookie cutter way to squat and you’ve found a way that allows you to be successful and move some significant weight.[/quote]

All true, but I’ve never subscribed to the belief that forward knee drift places undue stress on one’s knees. This is another conversation, but there has existed in powerlifting for a long time a “cult of sitting back” that has influenced how people regard forward knee drift as being more dangerous than it really is. Honestly, the next time I feel so much as an ache in my knees from squatting will be the first.

Low bar, feet set a bit wider that shoulder width. Certainly do not obsess over sitting back but mostly sitting between my feet. When I squat beltless/belted vs with wraps/single ply suit my stance gets a little bit wider when I put on the gear just by virtue of the fact that in tight ass gear, a little wider allows me to hit depth and maintain a good body position.

I used to squat with a super low bar, and sat my ass back as far as it could go. I got my hips, glutes, hamstrings really strong squatting like this, but as time went on I was having more and more trouble hitting depth, my chest was coming forward more and more, and I just didn’t like what my squat was becoming. Obviously, I want to be as strong as possible and squat as much weight as possible, but as time went on I began to see that low bar (for me) wasn’t the way to go. Instead of getting stronger overall, I felt like I was just getting better at calling depth right at parallel, and fighting through reps that weren’t very great with a lot of hip drive and an insanely low bar.

So, I decided to take the hit to my strength and switch to a higher bar squat. Overall, I just feel like it is a better and more athletic way to squat for me. I know there are a lot of people who disagree, but with a moderate/high bar placement and my feet just outside shoulder width, I feel a bunch of advantages. First of all, I can squat deeper. I’m naturally very flexible, and doing low bar for so long I lost a lot of that flexibility. Switching back to a deeper squat I have gained all of that flexibility back with no added mobility work. Second, I feel like my quad/hip/core strength is much more in balance with this type of squat. I’m building them all up at once. I still have a tendency to shoot my hips when reps get hard and let my posterior chain take over, but I’m working on that. And third, and maybe this is just because of the way i’m built, but I feel like I can stay way more upright with this type of squat, which in the long run I think is really important. My chest dropping is still a big problem for me that I’m working on, but I think the switch from low bar to high bar is the best thing I could have done to move towards fixing it.

Here’s a video of how I used to squat.

And here is a more recent video