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Squat form check after 18+ months away


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I promised some nerds a short time ago that I'd get a squat form check vid up here shortly. This isn't great, IMO, but I will say that I think it's a lot better than what I was capable of a year and a half ago. (Just put a bar on my back again within the last two weeks. Shot this on Saturday. Had my phone muted so that it wouldn't make any noise if someone called or texted. Didn't think it would mute the mic, too.)

 

 

Fire away. I know I need the critique. Part of me knows I've come a long way just to reach this point, and another part of me thinks it's pathetic that this is the best I can do after working on mobility, stretching or both continuously for two and a half years now.

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You are hitting good depth, but the main issue I see is that you are dropping your chest at the bottom. Chest up, nips to the wall! as they say. You also have the tendency to lean forward in order to get depth so keep that in mind as you are squatting, try and feel where the bar is in relation to your centerline

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"Pull the bar like you're ripping the head off a god-damned lion" - Donny Shankle

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Biggie, thank you for having a look. As you know, technique is very troublesome for me, so I appreciate any pointers I can get.

 

As mentioned last night, I have a follow-up question. I'm greatly worried about something...those sets represented a deliberate attempt by me to keep the chest up out of awareness that I have a problem doing so. Even making a very deliberate attempt to keep the chest up, I still couldn't do it. :(

 

I have been told privately by several people, after getting that vid together, that adding weight to the bar would help, as that would provide something more substantive to push against. I'm not so sure about that. I am of the opinion that if I have an issue with leaning forward and dropping the chest *now*, it'll only be worse if I add more weight at this point.

 

Where would you stand on this? Work with more weight or do something like a wall squat progression, etc., to break myself of that habit? Thanks again.

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I would try to think about sitting straight down. You break at the hips first and send them back pretty far on some of the reps. These turn into the worst offenders as you then have to shift the knees forward and drop the chest to find some sort of balance near the bottom. I'd think about trying to break at the hips and knees at almost the same time and sitting straight down while trying to stay as tall as possible. I don't think adding weight will really help eradicate this particular issue, though it can be a valid approach for certain things.

 

IIRC ankle mobility is a concern but you do end up in a pretty decent position on some of the reps, it's just the dynamics of the movement causing problems. A big part of trying to remain upright and balanced through the squat is learning to sit into the quads. If you were to control your descent, take say a ten count to hit the bottom, your quads should be on fire. In the same vein, doing exercises that strengthen the quads will also help. Don't fear the leg extension machine as a tool to bring up the weakness.

 

Overall though, these aren't bad and if I'm remembering you as the right person it's a lot better than it used to be.

Eat. Sleep. High bar squat. | Strength is a skill, refine it.
Follow my Weightlifting team's antics: Instagram | Facebook | Youtube
Looking for a strength program? Check out The Danger Method and remember to do your damn abs

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Thanks, jdanger. Two other things come to mind, if I may...

 

1) Even trying to squat low bar, think about sitting straight down? If so, I think I've been so concerned about breaking at the hips first and sending them WAY back that I've overdone it. Will certainly work on that...and I also find your point about the quads interesting.

 

2) It has occurred to me that I really should be holding the bar lower for a low bar squat, too. However, I don't have the upper back musculature to create any sort of shelf for the bar to sit on and the position hurts like hell anyway, so I just get it as low as I can without outright pain. It's still highly uncomfortable for me to keep the bar where I have it; I actually feel each rep more in the upper back than anywhere else. :P Given that you didn't mention anything about bar position, did it really look OK?

 

Sorry that I'm paranoid about this. It does NOT come easily to me, and with the number of times I fucked up my lower back two years ago with minimal weight loads, I'm determined to avoid a repeat performance.

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My two cents, as a low bar squatter.

 

If you're doing low bar, I don't think the back angle is too far off from where you want to be. Out of necessity, you will have a more horizontal back angle with low bar. One thing I do notice about your back, though, is that your spinal erectors don't seem able to hold your lower spine in a neutral position. Does your lower back feel fatigued after you squat? If you're not able to hold the back rigid, then the back angle becomes more of a problem, instead of a means to enable the hips, because you will do things like hips shoot up out of the hole and chest collapses and you either perform a sloppy good morning or you fail the rep.

The iron never lies.

 

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Hey mgage. I've seen some of your posts around, too, and thanks for throwing your $0.02 in.

 

My lower back does feel fatigued, yes. Not pain...not anymore (two years ago, there WAS pain)...but there's fatigue even from the empty bar. I sense all the time that I'm unable to hold the lumbar area rigid no matter how hard I try.

 

I suppose this means back extensions are in my future. Supermans are part of my 'core stuff' rotation at the beginning of each workout, but based on what you were just saying, it appears they're not doing enough.

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You could try back extensions. I think the help they provide starts to trend downward pretty sharply as the weight gets heavy, but they might help you strengthen the lower back from where you are now and maybe help you feel a bit more comfortable in the movement.

 

If I were you, I think my main area of focus would be to start very slowly adding weight. And, while you do that, really focus on setting the lower back before you squat down and maintaining it as best you can during the movement. It won't be perfect, and I don't think perfection should be your goal. It will get better as you go and get stronger as you go. The cue that really enabled me to start setting my back was (earmuffs ladies and children) to imagine trying to put my d*&% between my knees. It feels a little like tilting the hips forward. Figure out how to do that, practice it just at home, and work on holding it as strong as you can during the squat.

 

I also really like the simple cue of just thinking about bringing the bar down and up in a straight line. That can help some bar path issues and it's really straightforward to implement.

 

A coach to do some hands on work for a few sessions could also be something to consider, if you can afford it/have a good one near you. I imagine someone in person could help you get rid of some of the jerkiness in the movement better than we could do online.

The iron never lies.

 

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Oh, most definitely re: coaching. I know I could really use it. Unfortunately, I've been beset for the last several months by automotive issues that culminated in junking my old car two weeks ago and buying another one several days ago. The car issues have placed a severe drain on my cash flow to the point where I cannot pay for coaching for the time being.

 

Interesting that you mentioned the d***-between-knees cue. I have encountered that before, but frankly, I didn't really understand what it meant. :P Your explanation of that is the most detailed one I've heard.

 

Also, it was actually deadlifting poorly (with less than my bodyweight, alas) that screwed up my lower back to begin with. Squatting poorly made the injuries worse. I kind of placed deadlifts on the back burner until I'm more satisfied with where my squat is...but you're making me reconsider that notion. I have a lot to think about. Thanks again.

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Mgage's advice is solid. And to clarify my position I noticed this is a semi low bar setup and I think that your hips are still traveling too far rearward on the bad reps, hence the advice. You're not going to squat in a perfectly upright position with a low bar, nor should you, but in the process of thinking about doing that you'll hopefully end up with a better movement. Trying to keep the wedding tackle between the knees sounds an awful lot like keeping your hips closer to the midline to me. Different words, same theme. That's the beauty of cues, try a bunch, use what works, throw away what doesn't.

 

As for back work.. I consider that so important that I try to do some sort of direct back work every day I'm in the gym. Sometimes the only way to attack a weakness is all out blitzkrieg style destruction. 

Eat. Sleep. High bar squat. | Strength is a skill, refine it.
Follow my Weightlifting team's antics: Instagram | Facebook | Youtube
Looking for a strength program? Check out The Danger Method and remember to do your damn abs

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