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Chyla

Beginner seeking help for deeper squats

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Hi there! I'm a total beginner in the weightlifting world, but I'm slowly trying to get to know more.

 

I've been having trouble squatting deep enough, and I was wondering if anyone had any advice or pointers that helped them squat deeper?

 

Anything will be greatly appreciated! 

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What kind of trouble? 

 

Is it your balance? Tight muscles? Knee pain? Without knowing what is making it difficult for you to squat deep, it's difficult to give helpful advice. For me it was balance, and I am currently doing body weight squats to try and get better at that. My plan is to get my form as close to perfect as I can get it, and then add weight back on.

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On 11/8/2017 at 9:48 AM, Chyla said:

Hi there! I'm a total beginner in the weightlifting world, but I'm slowly trying to get to know more.

 

I've been having trouble squatting deep enough, and I was wondering if anyone had any advice or pointers that helped them squat deeper?

 

Anything will be greatly appreciated! 

 

So us a video of you squat.  Let us help you.  But you can start with how does your third world squat look?

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Video would be great. Here is my progression of squats you can try. If you can't do a variation just go to the regression and get better there.

 

Heels Elevated Reaching Plate Squat

Heels Elevated Goblet Squat

Goblet Squat

2 KB Squat

Front Squat

Back Squat

 

Squatting is very hard for me and has taken a long time to improve. Good luck, my friend!

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Stretching the leg muscles makes a big difference for squats. Especially the calves. If your calf muscles are tight/short, the only way you can get your butt down deep enough for a squat is to move your entire upper body backwards. Which of course tips you over and now you fall backwards.

 

Body weight squats are a great way of figuring out your form and practicing it until you get it right. Don't hesitate to hold onto a wall or door or post or whatever for balance, while slowly going into a deep squat. It is a very effective calf stretch...

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On 11/13/2017 at 1:58 PM, Br0din said:

 

So us a video of you squat.  Let us help you.  But you can start with how does your third world squat look?

 I looked that up and I've actually been trying to do that a couple times a day. I think i've noticed a difference being more comfortable in a deep squat - so thank you!

 

On 11/12/2017 at 9:58 PM, scalyfreak said:

What kind of trouble? 

 

Is it your balance? Tight muscles? Knee pain? Without knowing what is making it difficult for you to squat deep, it's difficult to give helpful advice. For me it was balance, and I am currently doing body weight squats to try and get better at that. My plan is to get my form as close to perfect as I can get it, and then add weight back on.

 

In the beginning, it was flexibility so I did some stretches and now my squat is better, but now it's pain in my left knee (my right knee is fine) so does anyone have any advice for preventing injury/strain in the knees???

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Have you posted a form video?

 

You knee could be at a slight angle when you squat, that would cause pain. There could also be something wrong with it. Proceed with caution! Knees are fragile.

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On 09/12/2017 at 12:42 PM, Chyla said:

In the beginning, it was flexibility so I did some stretches and now my squat is better, but now it's pain in my left knee (my right knee is fine) so does anyone have any advice for preventing injury/strain in the knees???

 

I have the same problem. Usually I go lighter when knee is aching, or do some box squats (they are great for build strength and preserve the knees) low reps more sets. Always use straps when heavy.

As to go deeper what helps me is to put more weight and go all the way down (ask someone who really knows to assist to watch).

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Start with ankle mobility. You hips have to stay over your feet when you squat, your femurs have to get out of the way somehow, and the only directions for them to go is over your knees or outwards. Usually people start by stretching their hips, and that's good to do, but the ankles are very often the limiting factor. 

 

If your knees hurt when your knees travel over your foot during the squat, make sure you are squatting with the pressure spread evenly throughout your feet. If you can't squat to depth with even pressure in your feet (i.e. your weight is shifting to the front of your foot), ankle mobility is the limiting factor. 

 

Box squatting can increase your depth immediately. Box squatting will teach you to break at the hips first, and you'll find a few inches of depth. You'll get an immediate sense of what good depth and tension in your hips feels like. However, def don't box squat if you've got back issues, and keep it light regardless. Use it as a learning tool/warmup. I think the correct way to squat is to break at the ankles first, as most athletic movements should start with the ankles, but box squatting can be a great learning tool for beginners. 

 

 

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19 hours ago, brianlitwin said:

Start with ankle mobility. You hips have to stay over your feet when you squat, your femurs have to get out of the way somehow, and the only directions for them to go is over your knees or outwards. Usually people start by stretching their hips, and that's good to do, but the ankles are very often the limiting factor. 

 

If your knees hurt when your knees travel over your foot during the squat, make sure you are squatting with the pressure spread evenly throughout your feet. If you can't squat to depth with even pressure in your feet (i.e. your weight is shifting to the front of your foot), ankle mobility is the limiting factor. 

 

Box squatting can increase your depth immediately. Box squatting will teach you to break at the hips first, and you'll find a few inches of depth. You'll get an immediate sense of what good depth and tension in your hips feels like. However, def don't box squat if you've got back issues, and keep it light regardless. Use it as a learning tool/warmup. I think the correct way to squat is to break at the ankles first, as most athletic movements should start with the ankles, but box squatting can be a great learning tool for beginners. 

 

 

 

So.... break at the ankles first or break at the hips first?  Just want to clarify.

 

On the topic of ankle mobility, most ankles are tight because people are extended at the spine, puffing their chest forward and pushing their bodyweight forward on to their toes. The brain then keeps the muscles that dorsiflex activated to keep from falling forward. Doing ankle mobility drills wont fix the underlying issue. 

 

Performing front loaded squats and learning to set your rib cage back, over the hips and letting the knees come forward on the squat will open the ankles up right away. I love your line about feeling the whole foot. That, combined with getting the ribs and hips over top of the whole foot will activate all the right squatting muscles. Put stability where it needs to be in the axial skeleton and the appendages will be as mobile as you need them.

 

Great discussion, @brianlitwin

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@kettlebellkungfupanda, that's over my head about the postural stuff haha. I've got some acute ankle issues from past injuries, real impingements, but I'm sure your advice about fixing posture will help.  I can feel what you're saying just shifting my weight and posture subtly as I'm standing up at my desk. Ankle mobility is a bit of a sore subject with me, because I had a lot of strength coaches in the past when I was an athlete, and they always addressed squat depth with hip mobility stuff. I never heard one peep about ankle mobility until my athletic career was over and I started messing around with olympic weightlifting for fun. 

 

about breaking at the hips verse the ankles.. 

I prefer breaking at the ankles,  but, IMO, most novices' default impulse is to squat with too much knee and ankle emphasis and not enough hip engagement. So the box squat/ break at the hips cue is just an over-correction to get them incorporating their hips into the movement. Mind, this is only gleaned from a limited population of athletes I've worked with. 

 

Issue is,  most people learn pretty quickly that they actually have more leverage in the hips and back than they do in their quads, if they're built like the majority of the population, and then they swing in the opposite direction. You can see this pretty much all over youtube. It's def how I am,  i.e. doing good-morning squats when the weight gets heavy. Not easy to fix nor worth getting too worked up over, but worth a conscious effort to try to break at the ankles and engage the quads. An interesting experiment is to do some vertical leaps with your hands on your hips. The arms provide a lot of horizontal momentum, swinging the torso when you jump, and a lot of people begin and power the jump with an aggressive torso swing. But if you take them out of the equation, you find yourself defaulting back to using your legs and breaking at the ankles. Sort of a hack to get your body back to using the movement pattern it feels strongest/ most explosive with. 

 

 

 

 

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