T Nation

Why Do You Squat the Way You Do?

[quote]KyleKeough wrote:

[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]

I have long femurs so probably not cut out for me.

[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:

That’s a lot of weight you’re moving. Why aren’t your legs bigger though?

Honestly, I’m not trying to be talk you down, but you’re moving a lot of weight, and do you think that the squat hasn’t been the best mass-builder for you? Or the rep-range you’re using doesn’t lead to hypertrophy?

[quote]N.K. wrote:

. 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.

I quoted this wrong, but N.K> HELLO!!

I do this too, I thought it was just me, lOL. What are you doing exactly to work on that ??

I squat high bar…

Do people squat high bar withut Oly shoes? I am having a lot of calf pain and I think it’s because of those shoes.
Can I squat high bar and go back to wearing my chucks? I miss my chucks…

Spock:

Basically, I’m working on using my quads more by pushing my hips forward and keeping my chest up, while keeping my heels planted. Since I used to cue myself to “sit back” so often, that movement pattern is INGRAINED in me, so i literally have to think “sit forward” in order to make myself go straight down. Also, the “sit back” cue for me often turned into “kick the hips back and let the chest drop” right off the bat, so I am also working on starting the down portion of the squat without moving my chest whatsoever. It’s tough, and towards the ends of my sets/on really heavy reps, I still always kick my hips up and let my chest drop. But now at least I can feel it happening, and can work to fight it, so that is a step in the right direction. Another thing that helped me a lot was watching some awesome olympic lifting squats. Watch this video of spencer moorman, for example. In his squat he practically sits his hamstrings onto his calves, that’s how forward his hips are and how much he is loading his quads. Obviously, I look nothing like that when I squat, but IMAGINING myself moving the way he moves helps me to do a better, more upright squat.

Also: the calf pain I think is normal. I have talked to quite a few oly lifters and the consensus is that hit hurts like a BITCH for a couple weeks to a couple months, and then just goes away. And, when I switched just a few months ago I can say firsthand that my calves killed me for about three months, and nowadays they only hurt once in a blue moon. So I would suggest sticking with the oly shoes for at least a few months, cause they really are the best for a high bar squat. If it doesn’t seem to get better, then switch it up if you need to, but I would put in at least 3 months if you can take it.

Wow! That was very helpful, thank you!

So I guess squatting should be as quady as I can make it, maybe??

How come people always talk about quad dominance as though it is a negative thing? That guy is squatting like he is forcing the movement to be mainly quads?

I moved to high bar, wider stance, in chucks because I got sick of GMing the weight up if the bar drifted forward even a little. It’s much easier to keep a vertical bar path and the reps just feel better over all. For rep work, I’ll take a closer stance with oly shoes and full depth and either a SSB, front squat, or high bar squat.

Edit: I should add that since switching I’ve put 40lbs on my squat.

[quote]alternate wrote:

That’s a lot of weight you’re moving. Why aren’t your legs bigger though?

Honestly, I’m not trying to be talk you down, but you’re moving a lot of weight, and do you think that the squat hasn’t been the best mass-builder for you? Or the rep-range you’re using doesn’t lead to hypertrophy?[/quote]

I’m a competitive powerlifter, so I’m not trying to build much mass, just get stronger. I know I could always move up a weight class, but I have no incentive to, since I’m more competitive at 148 lbs.

I squat about as wide as I can get my feet out with the bar set as low as possible on my back. I look about 5-6 feet in front of me on the way down and out of the hole I drive my chin back and usually end up looking almost in between my legs. The bar is so low I pretty much only do it for singles now since the bar starts to roll down my back on rep sets, so I put the bar a little higher during training. It’s pretty weird.

Spock:

I’m not sure about why there is so much preaching against quad dominance. My best guess is just that the people who that is directed towards (and the vast majority of athletes) are so quad dominant that they are out of balance. By learning how to sit back and engage their hips, they are tapping into some very powerful muscles that they previously were not making much use of, and bringing their bodies into balance by learning how to use their hips and quads together.

The thing is, a guy like me who is completely untrained comes along, and I’m reading all this “sit back, learn how to use your glutes and hams” information. Only my quads aren’t strong at all, so I build up the OPPOSITE imbalance. Strong ass posterior chain and weak quads. So now, I have to FORCE myself to feel like I am squatting in a “quad dominant” way, when in reality all I am doing is working to balance out my quads with my posterior chain. Overall, my goal is to sit straight down, but with my feet wide enough so I get a lot of hip drive, AND i’m able to load my quads and use them as well. Balance is key.

Also, there is the whole aspect that powerlifting is a sport, and the squat that moves the most weight is the squat that wins competitions. I think that is a big part of the reason for the SUPER wide, sit way back squat. It works best for geared lifters, and even a lot of raw lifters. It reduces the distance the weight has to be moved, and if you can get really strong with that sort of squat you are goign to kick ass at powerlifting, which is why I think it is preached so often.

However, like I said in my earlier post, while I absolutely want to be the best powerlifter/squatted that I can be, I also want to be as healthy and athletic as possible, and I felt that the “sit way back wide squat just to paralell” was taking away from my flexibility and overall athleticism. I know that, with a more moderate stance, deeper squat that is a medium between an olympic squat and a powerlifting squat, I can still get insanely strong, and I just think it is a better option for me. In the end, like everything to do with squatting, it comes down to personal preference. There are a lot of great ways to become big, strong, and awesome at squatting.

[quote]N.K. wrote:
Spock:

I’m not sure about why there is so much preaching against quad dominance. My best guess is just that the people who that is directed towards (and the vast majority of athletes) are so quad dominant that they are out of balance. By learning how to sit back and engage their hips, they are tapping into some very powerful muscles that they previously were not making much use of, and bringing their bodies into balance by learning how to use their hips and quads together.

The thing is, a guy like me who is completely untrained comes along, and I’m reading all this “sit back, learn how to use your glutes and hams” information. Only my quads aren’t strong at all, so I build up the OPPOSITE imbalance. Strong ass posterior chain and weak quads. So now, I have to FORCE myself to feel like I am squatting in a “quad dominant” way, when in reality all I am doing is working to balance out my quads with my posterior chain. Overall, my goal is to sit straight down, but with my feet wide enough so I get a lot of hip drive, AND i’m able to load my quads and use them as well. Balance is key.

Also, there is the whole aspect that powerlifting is a sport, and the squat that moves the most weight is the squat that wins competitions. I think that is a big part of the reason for the SUPER wide, sit way back squat. It works best for geared lifters, and even a lot of raw lifters. It reduces the distance the weight has to be moved, and if you can get really strong with that sort of squat you are goign to kick ass at powerlifting, which is why I think it is preached so often.

However, like I said in my earlier post, while I absolutely want to be the best powerlifter/squatted that I can be, I also want to be as healthy and athletic as possible, and I felt that the “sit way back wide squat just to paralell” was taking away from my flexibility and overall athleticism. I know that, with a more moderate stance, deeper squat that is a medium between an olympic squat and a powerlifting squat, I can still get insanely strong, and I just think it is a better option for me. In the end, like everything to do with squatting, it comes down to personal preference. There are a lot of great ways to become big, strong, and awesome at squatting. [/quote]

Minor rant:

In my opinion Louie/Tate/Westside has fucked up a lot raw powerlifters. Superwide squatting ala Chuck seems to be great for multiply squatting, but NOT for raw or single-ply squatting. It seems that nobody wants to say anything bad about Louie&co, because he seems to be a very helpful&stand-up person, but I think it’s downright misinformation to NOT stress the difference between multiply squat technique and raw/singleply. Of course, most lifters will figure it our eventually.

Does anyone divebomb their squats?

This is from last meet 4/12. Feet shoulder width (maybe a little more), more toward low bar. Have since moved my feet in amd lowered bar a little. Much better on my old hips. Also made the transition to conventional from sumo DL.

Eric Lilliebridge is proof that elite numbers can be put up with a high bar squat. Granted he doesn’t go as low as a typical Olympic squat but his torso is very upright. I’ve recently switched to a higher bar position because, like others have posted, I was having trouble keeping my chest up with the low bar, sitting back method. I have to use less weight for now, but it feels better and I personally feel more athletic carryover. The ego check of having to backtrack pretty far is rough though.

[quote]Paragonnate wrote:
Eric Lilliebridge is proof that elite numbers can be put up with a high bar squat. Granted he doesn’t go as low as a typical Olympic squat but his torso is very upright. I’ve recently switched to a higher bar position because, like others have posted, I was having trouble keeping my chest up with the low bar, sitting back method. I have to use less weight for now, but it feels better and I personally feel more athletic carryover. The ego check of having to backtrack pretty far is rough though. [/quote]

It took me 3 months to get my high bar squat where my low bar was, but since progress in both my squat and bench have been more consistent because I’m not screwing up my shoulder.

[quote]infinite_shore wrote:

[quote]N.K. wrote:
Spock:

I’m not sure about why there is so much preaching against quad dominance. My best guess is just that the people who that is directed towards (and the vast majority of athletes) are so quad dominant that they are out of balance. By learning how to sit back and engage their hips, they are tapping into some very powerful muscles that they previously were not making much use of, and bringing their bodies into balance by learning how to use their hips and quads together.

The thing is, a guy like me who is completely untrained comes along, and I’m reading all this “sit back, learn how to use your glutes and hams” information. Only my quads aren’t strong at all, so I build up the OPPOSITE imbalance. Strong ass posterior chain and weak quads. So now, I have to FORCE myself to feel like I am squatting in a “quad dominant” way, when in reality all I am doing is working to balance out my quads with my posterior chain. Overall, my goal is to sit straight down, but with my feet wide enough so I get a lot of hip drive, AND i’m able to load my quads and use them as well. Balance is key.

Also, there is the whole aspect that powerlifting is a sport, and the squat that moves the most weight is the squat that wins competitions. I think that is a big part of the reason for the SUPER wide, sit way back squat. It works best for geared lifters, and even a lot of raw lifters. It reduces the distance the weight has to be moved, and if you can get really strong with that sort of squat you are goign to kick ass at powerlifting, which is why I think it is preached so often.

However, like I said in my earlier post, while I absolutely want to be the best powerlifter/squatted that I can be, I also want to be as healthy and athletic as possible, and I felt that the “sit way back wide squat just to paralell” was taking away from my flexibility and overall athleticism. I know that, with a more moderate stance, deeper squat that is a medium between an olympic squat and a powerlifting squat, I can still get insanely strong, and I just think it is a better option for me. In the end, like everything to do with squatting, it comes down to personal preference. There are a lot of great ways to become big, strong, and awesome at squatting. [/quote]

Minor rant:

In my opinion Louie/Tate/Westside has fucked up a lot raw powerlifters. Superwide squatting ala Chuck seems to be great for multiply squatting, but NOT for raw or single-ply squatting. It seems that nobody wants to say anything bad about Louie&co, because he seems to be a very helpful&stand-up person, but I think it’s downright misinformation to NOT stress the difference between multiply squat technique and raw/singleply. Of course, most lifters will figure it our eventually.[/quote]

Well, yes and no IMO. Louie has said some crazy out there things, but on the flip side of the same coin a ton, and I mean a TON of people misread, misunderstand, and just plain fuck up a lot of what he HAS said. So it goes both ways. The amount of people out there doing shit that they really never tried to understand is crazy and that’s their fault, not his. He’s been using this system for like 30 years and getting people really strong with it, raw or not. I think it is fair to say he knows it inside and out and that most people learning about it do not take the time to study it as they should in order to understand it fully. They want one side fits all–all you need to do is take a look at the “Westside Methods Thread” to see all the depth you can get into.

Also I am not a fan of superwide raw squatting, but some people really swear by it. I think you can squat moderately wide raw, but superwide gets potentially injurious on the hips.

A third thing ot keep in mind is that some of Louie’s strong opinion might be traced back to his attempt to “move the pendulum back” i.e. persuade a lot of people of the importance of the posterior chain when too many people are doing dumbass shit that doesn’t even count as a squat. The pendulum analogy (90s = fat is DEATH, now carbs are DEATH, one side swings to the other) I believe is apt. It’s not that he was so wrong as much as that he was fighting the inertia of the “weight culture” and now it’s all swung back to the other end.

All that being said, I think NK you hit the nail on the head with your first paragraph–there are, still, tons and tons of people who have weak posterior chains from improper training or a variety of terrible mobility problems or technical problems. I think this is more of a problem of understanding “intended audiences” than what is actually being preached. As for your circumstance, you’re probably right about not being quad dominant from being untrained. On the other hand if you’re a PL, then going too deep is bad for competition numbers. You could train deep, and then practice parallel for competition purposes leading into a meet. This solves both problems

I squat medium to high bar, narrow stance olympic style. I like deep. Deep means no mobility problems and I feel good rebound out of the hole. I can hybrid it some days, with a lower bar but still narrow olympic style. Generally I try to keep the bar high but sometimes it feels better low. I believe this goes in with what Wendler has talked about in terms of learning how to squat (can’t remember the recent article it was in).

[quote]Aragorn wrote:

[quote]infinite_shore wrote:
Minor rant:
In my opinion Louie/Tate/Westside has fucked up a lot raw powerlifters. Superwide squatting ala Chuck seems to be great for multiply squatting, but NOT for raw or single-ply squatting. It seems that nobody wants to say anything bad about Louie&co, because he seems to be a very helpful&stand-up person, but I think it’s downright misinformation to NOT stress the difference between multiply squat technique and raw/singleply. Of course, most lifters will figure it our eventually.[/quote]

Well, yes and no IMO. Louie has said some crazy out there things, but on the flip side of the same coin a ton, and I mean a TON of people misread, misunderstand, and just plain fuck up a lot of what he HAS said. So it goes both ways. The amount of people out there doing shit that they really never tried to understand is crazy and that’s their fault, not his. He’s been using this system for like 30 years and getting people really strong with it, raw or not. I think it is fair to say he knows it inside and out and that most people learning about it do not take the time to study it as they should in order to understand it fully. They want one side fits all–all you need to do is take a look at the “Westside Methods Thread” to see all the depth you can get into.

Also I am not a fan of superwide raw squatting, but some people really swear by it. I think you can squat moderately wide raw, but superwide gets potentially injurious on the hips.

A third thing ot keep in mind is that some of Louie’s strong opinion might be traced back to his attempt to “move the pendulum back” i.e. persuade a lot of people of the importance of the posterior chain when too many people are doing dumbass shit that doesn’t even count as a squat. The pendulum analogy (90s = fat is DEATH, now carbs are DEATH, one side swings to the other) I believe is apt. It’s not that he was so wrong as much as that he was fighting the inertia of the “weight culture” and now it’s all swung back to the other end.
[/quote]

I think you are way too kind here. Are you seriously suggesting that the standard PLing approaches or even oly wling before Westside didn’t focus on the posterior chain? Of course they did, but without those fancy machines and gadgets.

I don’t really see that he brought any novel and good thing to the world of raw and single-ply PLing, except perhaps the use of bands/chains. But he certainly did bring in some bad or at least unnecessary ideas (contribute to developments).

In summary, if I wanted to get into multiply lifting I would follow many of the ideas of Louie. If you want to do raw or single-ply lifting, I would look at the top IPF guys.

Sorry for derailing this thread.

A recent injury to my groin has forced me to go with a narrower stance. Surprisingly with the narrower stance I am feeling stronger and have better mobility. I have also found that not forcing my knees out has been helpful. Bar placement is in the middle of low and high, while depth was never a concern for me, I get a better bounce out of the hole when squatting in a more Oly style.

I will agree with Infinite Shore in that “hips way back” thing doesnt work for raw lifters.

There have been times I have missed squats I should have had because I went too wide and couldnt get out of the hole.

I have trained mainly low bar with a wider placement previously. I am also flexible though from years of taekwondo.

Since I hurt my back, I have brought my stance in a bit and train both high bar and low bar.

If I am doing heavier sets, I stick with low bar and feet a bit out of shoulder width.

All my squatting for higher reps and pause squats are done high bar olympic style.

I like both low and high bar and to me it isn’t that important. I can squat about the same weight low or high bar, both with close stance but when doing sets of 8 to 12 reps the end of a set looks a lot better with high bar, I always seem to screw up my form when I fatigue with low bar. Also with low bar placement I have to wear wrist wraps if not I get wrist pain and it affects bench training.