Need some help on my Squat - Form Check Video Included
- 05-13-2014, 01:44 AM
Need some help on my Squat - Form Check Video Included
Hi guys, I've been lifting for years, but recently took an interest in powerlifting. I've already competed (last weekend) in benchpress, but I'd like to do a full meet in the future. The problem is my squat. In my years of training I never truly focused on breaking parralel in squat and I've honestly just never felt very comfortable squatting. It doesn't feel like a naturaul movement to me if that makes sense. So my strength on squats is pathetic compared to my other lifts.
I know most people prefer low bar squat in powerlifting and I am trying to give it a chance, but so far it has felt even worse than high bar squats that I do in my Form Check Video. as an FYI, I do quite a bit of mobility work to open up my hips, work on my spine, and get my legs ready to squat and deadlift every day before I train legs.
So here is the video. This is 245 lbs x 3 reps and I would consider this weight about 85 - 90% of my max at competition depth right now (pathetic I know). Also something to note is that this rack makes it very difficult for me to break parralel. On 225 lbs and below I squat outside the rack and break parrallel. I can get a video of that soon too if it will be helpful. Please let me know of anything you guys see that might be holding me back and keeping me from making gains on my squats. Am I missing some cues? Are things firing off in the wrong order? My back tends to lean forward a lot and my lower back gets noticeably sore (I also have lingering bulged lumbar disk issues) after any sets over about 225 pounds. The forward lean becomes very noticeable over 250 lbs reps.
Please let me know if theres anything else I can do to provide a better way for you guys to analyze my form. I have a one other recent squat video of 235x5 that may provide more angles. - Your input is much appreciated!
- 05-13-2014, 10:07 AM
I thought of one more thing I didn't really mention and would like some opinions on. So the squat rack you see pictured is the only squat rack in my gym. I feel like when I am inside it I cannot hit depth without banging the bar into the rack and pretty much having the bar sitting on the rack (and even then its just barely parallel).
Have any of you guys been faced with this training situation? I want to train at the depth I would need to hit in competition, so I walk the bar outside of the rack and squat lower than where the rack would be at weight 225 lbs and below. Any weight above that though I am scared of not being able to get the rep and needing to bail out, which I would hate to do without the safety of a rack to drop it onto. I could see it being bad if I couldnt get the rep outside the rack.
Do you guys think it is hurting my progress to lift inside this rack at the heavier weights? Any ideas on what I should do? Is my form causing me to not be able to hit parallel inside this rack maybe (hip position etc) ??
05-13-2014, 10:23 AM
First off, I'd like to mention I had to watch this video about 20 times because I kept getting distracted by legs in the background. Next time grunt hella stupidly loud so you can catch the reaction on camera
It's a little tough to see, but it looks like your knees are tracking too much forward and not enough out. Were your hip flexors sore after that set?
2. It looks like your lacking back tightness. And that belt is not helping you if I'm right. Its a little tough to see from the given angle, but it looks like you're either butt winking really high, or not lifting your tail at all. Did you buy that belt because of lower back pain from squats?
3. You have $400 worth of gear and squat barely over 200 lbs. are you masking weaknesses or were you previously injured?
05-13-2014, 10:34 AM
I have the same rack at my gym. I walk outside it. If you have to bail, you bail. Unless you're maxing, you really shouldn't have to anyway. The bar and plates will live. Anyone standing close enough to get hurt deserves what they get. Don't let poor design let you make poor decisions.
1. This isn't a great camera angle. Couldn't begin to figure out what's up with foot/knee, if anything.
2. Keep your chest up. Hips down. You're folding. The bar is drifting WAY over your toes. No bueno.
3. It might help you to hold your arms perpendicular to the floor rather than chicken-winging backwards. If you watch your elbows through the lift, you can tell your arms aren't providing much stability.
4. Power through the heels.
Dropping down weight and working with paused squats (say, 3 seconds in the hole) really helps me to find parallel, work on flexibility, and figure out a stable posture for the lift. If you're unstable (you look it), you'll have a really hard time with the pause so you'll be forced to adjust to better form.
05-13-2014, 10:35 AM
those plates do a great job of hiding your upper body and that hot chick in the background was a major distraction lol.
you were a smidge high and with you stating the lean is worse the more weight you add, it makes me wonder if you are squatting on top of your legs instead of between them. cant tell from that angle either. im a big fan of angled videos of the squats of from the front. the side you can see the lean real well but cant see other details.
to fix the lean there are some common issues:
-a tighter stronger upper back
-stronger tighter abs
-pushing your knees out
cant tell if 1 and 3 are an issue in the supplied vid. can you do another one and film from just off center from behind or even better just off center from the front.
you can call me "ozzie" for short.
05-13-2014, 10:43 AM
So the Rehband Knee sleeves I got because I was starting to have knee soreness after squats, possibly do to issues with my form. I also just didnt see the harm in keeping my knees warm and hopefully preventing some wear and tear.... I'm getting older now (31).
The Olympic Squat shoes I bought to hopefully help me feel more stable and get a bit deeper into my squats. I've been training for 12 years or so, but I never focused on squats enough and I never even tried to break parallel. Its something I really regret now, but at this point I just need to fix it. I woouldnt say my hip flexors were sore after the set. After yesterdays workout my legs in general felt pretty sore, nothing noticeable in my hips, but I did do mobility work for about half an hour before I started squats and stiff leg deadlift. Today I I feel some quad and hamstring soreness, but mostly I just feel my sore lower back (right where the disk bulge is) like always.
So on the butt winking thing.... Is it that Im not squeezing my glutes at the bottom of the rep or?? And you are thinking maybe using the belt too much has started to hurt my core strength?
05-13-2014, 10:58 AM
Thank you for the replies guys. Reps to all.
FYI - I am on week 4 of Johnny Candito's program which is the "Heavy Weight Acclimation" week. I entered 275 as my max at the start of the program to get my numbers for the lifts.. and I don't know that Ive progressed much yet because of all my form inadequacies when the weight starts getting heavy.
05-13-2014, 11:12 AM
The reason I asked about the hip flexors is because they should be sore. It is hard from the angle, but I'd guess you aren't tracking your knees out far enough. Which means you aren't squatting between them, which would explain the forward lean
On the thing about the belt. If we're right about the lower back rounding. Then the belt is just masking the weakness instead of fixing the form. That's what I was getting at, not the core weakness
05-13-2014, 05:19 PM
Squatting especially, is good to start the percents IMO well within a good anytime smooth looking max maybe 90% of ones max. Sure it might feel like you are starting really light, but you can run the cycle longer and gain more momentum than hitting a wall quick and burning out. I know, I have done it more than once.
I am not saying this to shoot down your gains or accomplishments (and they will come believe me) but sacrificing some form or depth to add weight or to make the numbers that were punched into to a rep calculator can be tricky, especially for someone with less heavy experience.
Maybe this is another reason why I always kinda favored multi sets of x5's or so for a while or until the lifter gets really acclimated to heavier loads and even though they can be pushing, the higher reps/less weight is more manageable if one gets away.
05-13-2014, 05:31 PM
05-13-2014, 10:09 PM
What's going to fix the butt wink is learning how to brace your spine and pushing your hamstrings back rather than reaching your butt back.
You have to unrack that bar with extreme tightness. A belly full of air with your abs tensed like Tyson is about to give you a rib shot, every single muscle in your back tight to the max, chest up, and then push your hips forward to get it out of the rack.
When you've finished walking it out, screw your feet HARD into the ground. That will activate your glutes and get your body fully locked in. Then, while keeping your feet screwed in, you push your hams back and leg curl down.
Keep pushing hams back and leg curling down until you hit depth, and by then your body will be screaming to return to standing. Drive your head back into the bar and your hips forward and you'll have completed a perfect squat.
Go through that checklist with many sets of the bar, 95lbs, 135, 185, until you get to your working weight. Send us the vid of next week's work sets, and we'll see what you need to improve upon.
05-14-2014, 07:16 AM
05-14-2014, 11:56 AM
I've broken my first rep from the Form Check video down into a sequence of photos so maybe you guys can pick up on some things that you miss when the video is moving fast. I do plan on working on the things mentioned so far and getting you guys some more video in the coming weeks to evaluate if I'm fixing anything etc. For now maybe this will help shine some light on specific parts of the movement I can improve. I think a main focus I need to work on is doing things properly to protect my lower back so I dont end up injured and out of the gym instead of bettering myself.
Keep in mind, this was a high bar position squat. The bar was up on my traps.. its possible that I am leaning forward to far for the bar position Im using.
Photo 1. Top position About to Descend. I have taken a big breath and am trying to get the intra-abdominal pressure going, pushing against the belt. Im relatively lean so thats definitely me pushing my abdominals outward you see above the belt (not sure if I am doing it correctly for this point in the lift).
Photo 2: Beginning Descent. Here I am trying to break at the knees first and let the hips follow. I start to see some lumbar curvature here.
Photo 3 - Midway through Descent.
Photo 4: Further into Descent
Photo 5: Bottom Position. This is my bottom position. It looks like I am just above parallel still, which is partially because the rack prevented me from going much deeper. I think that I had maybe 1 more inch until the bar banged into the rack. I am still looking forward here. How does this bottom position look? Is this way off from where my body should be on a high bar squat?
Photo 6: Begin Upwards Movement. This is just as I start to rise. My butt has lifted some and shifted angles and my eyes have moves upwards some ( i should probably keep my eyes focused on a point in front of me).
Photo 7: 1/3 through Upwards movement.
Photo 8: Further Upward Movement.
Photo 9: Near top of Upward movement
Photo 10: Lockout after 1 Rep
Sorry for the long post, but I think this might help to pinpoint some things. Thanks for the input, I've got to fix this squat and get my numbers up!
05-14-2014, 06:37 PM
Point your toes more forwards (not fully straight but not as angled as you have them) and drive your knees out in the way Herder mentioned by generating torque through your feet.
Yes, you not being able to squat to parallel in that rack, is doing absolutely nothing good for your squat.
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05-14-2014, 08:47 PM
Sorry, were you squatting? I didn't notice.
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05-15-2014, 12:22 AM
Lots of things at work here. Don't want info overload. It's been mentioned already, but I'll add in my two cents worth.
Your toes are pointed out, yet your knees travel too far forward. You have no choice but to lean awkwardly.
Just concentrate on this for now: toes pointed just slightly out, chest up, and push your knees to the side as you descend. Think of creating a pocket for your hips as you hit the hole, then drive from your heels. Your back must be tight, as well. But, concentrate on knees out first.
A belt is fine, except you're not using yours correctly. Your gut must be expanded and pushing out against the belt to create a stable core. You're contracting your abs which creates instability: Google EliteFts how to wear a belt. (I can`t post links.)
Google EliteFTS.com So You Think You Can Squat on Youtube.
You can also work on box squats to strengthen your posterior chain and relieve stress on your knees: Google Clint Darden how to box squat on Youtube.
Watch videos of Olympic lifters (youtube Ironmind videos) if you want to go high bar. There`s aa good one of Kakhiashvili in the training hall there.
Allthings Gym, Elitefts are great resources. As is Youtube - these channels: Klokov, Clint Darden, Mark Bell-Supertraining, Brandon Lilly.
05-15-2014, 11:00 AM
Its leg day again and I think I will try to get you guys some more footage with me trying to implement some of the things that have been pointed out in this thread. I may record some of a moderate weight outside the rack.... hell maybe I just need to man up and do all my sets outside the rack? I've never dumped a rep off myback on squats in my life, but I think I can do it safely... for the most part.
Just wanted to re-emphasize and say thanks again for all of you that have taken the time to try to help me fix my awful squats.
05-15-2014, 01:02 PM
Part of me doesn't want to comment because you have so many opinions already I don't want to overload you...so I'll try to keep mine brief.
1) It all starts with your initial set up. You don't look to be getting near as tight as you should when you unrack the bar (which is leading to tons of upper back instability as you descend into the hole). This lack of tightness is then transferring to an over-arching of the lumbar causing you to lose the optimal positioning of your ribcage to your pelvic floor. If you can set the upper back better (more tightness/pull that bar into you) and set your ribcage better you'll should be able to use a better breath to set your tightness and use your belt better.
2) If you get that above you'll be in much better position for the drop into the hole and that should help some form, but in general you need to push your knees out more. I can't tell exactly from the angle, but it appears you are not tracking over your toes well (knees seem to be in even with the toes flared a bit) and this is causing you to run out of space in the bottom.
Or just listen to Herder. And read this for more info if you want: The Bottom Position of Your Squat: A Defining Characteristic of Your Human Existence - Juggernaut Training Systems - Juggernaut Training Systems
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05-15-2014, 10:08 PM
I got a lot of footage tonight at the gym. I'm excited to show you guys what it looked like this time around. I still need a lot of work obviously and sometimes I caught myself focusing on too many things at once and fixing one thing only to break another, but hopefully we will see some progress in these videos.
One thing I am proud of is that I did every rep outside of that ****ty squat rack. I started filming at 135 lbs and went all the way up to 2 reps @ 245 pounds and Im pretty sure I broke parallel on every rep of every set (well I havent watched it all yet haha).
It will take me some time to edit the videos into one clip, but Ill get it up as soon as I can. I don't think I caught any hot chicks in the background for you guys this time though, bummer lol.
05-15-2014, 10:14 PM
When you're trying to fix a movement, pick one cue that has the most pressing need and master it. Then move on to the next cue. You got a TON of info, and it's hard not to overload on it. Hopefully we can narrow down to the one thing that is most important to making your squat better and have you master that, then we'll move on to the next thing.
05-16-2014, 09:04 AM
OK guys, new form check video is up! I felt a lot more comfortable getting deep with my feet not pointed outwards so far. I tried to apply as much of the things you guys had mentioned as I could. I feel like I am making progress! Let me know what you gys think and what I work on next! (If it will help my totals down the road, I would like to get my low bar squat better too at some point, hopefully this strength and form transfers to that well)
05-16-2014, 09:46 AM
Firstly, vast improvement. You incorporated a ton of the advice here and it shows.
I see you popping on to your toes at the bottom and rolling the foot inward right before you hit parallel, which is part of your valgus collapse I believe. That may put bad pressure on your knees. At least for me, there's no such thing as too much ankle/calf mobility.
Watch your head/neck position. You look down when you drop into the hole, which tends to cause people to lean forward.
Right when you get close to paralel and through the end of the movement, it might help to focus on flexing the outer hips (where your pockets are... think it's the gluteus medius? Hip abduction is the action.) to flex the leg into a more stable position, as if you're trying to touch the knees to the rack posts. I'm speculating that walking lunges might help with the leg stability.
When you hit bottom, you sometimes let out all your air (you're inconsistent on this). This is inadvisable. How can you be tight when you're emptying yourself? The last set is a great example of how you collapse as you let the air out.
Few things have helped my squat like pause squats. If nothing else, they'll teach you to hold your breath in longer and that, no, you won't suffocate in three seconds
05-16-2014, 10:25 AM
One thing I forgot to mention that I'm excited about.... Its only been 12 hours since the workout, but so far my lower back feels MUCH better than it normally does the next day at work after a heavy squat and deadlift day! A combination of the better squat form and staying much more upright in my sumo deadlifts (VIDEO TO COME!) seems to have really had a positive impact on my back health! This was one of the main reasons why I came to you guys for help, so Im pumped and hope the bulged disk pain stays away!! Id like to be in the iron game for a long time, so back health will be key for me.
05-16-2014, 10:26 AM
05-17-2014, 06:50 AM
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