View Full Version : Fixing some squat problems

04-12-2009, 08:25 PM
9 months ago I taught my friend how to squat and put him on starting strength. He progressed for awhile then quit, and he picked it back up again a few weeks ago. one of the problems he has while squatting is excessive leaning -- he has a real hard time getting depth, and can only hit depth after he's very warmed up and just narrowly makes it. His descent is very slow, and he leans too much at the bottom (looks a bit like a good morning about halfway through) though he does not round his back. I had him switch to low bar and that has helped some. His good morning weight is actually pretty good compared to his squatting weight (good mornings with sets of 75 lbs or so, squatting like 125 or something). Lately I've been having him to box squats close a bit below parallel. He's under control, though a few inches above the box he loses all his strength and comes down a bit too fast on the box (though not enough to injure himself I think). I've told him to concentrate on spreading his chest and keeping his chest up though that doesn't help him much.

I'm making sure he's not rocking off the box, and when He does box squat his form looks muuuch better, especially when he's on the box (no leaning), he just has a hard time getting there--very slow and leans a lot.

I had him try Something I saw on one of the squat rx videos (first one i think) where he would get into perfect squat position, without a bar, while holding onto one of the sides of the squat rack to assist him. He says he feels tigthest in his groin so I've been having him stretch there. I don't think tight hamstrings are the culprit though He could probably use a bit more flexibility there too. He can touch his toes without much effort. I'm thinking his hamstrings could be his weak link, instead of his spinal erectors, because he has no problem keeping an arch, just leans a lot.

his front squats look much better--hits parallel way easier and no leaning. I'm wondering if you guys could give me any other advice towards how I could help him? He has definately made serious progress and has been one of the toughest guys that I've had to teach to squat (the others kind of picked it up likea fish to water, him I've had to work with a lot more). When we first started I had him doing bodyweight squats on a box way above parallel and he was doing something very similar though a lot higher (losing power and tightness at the very end). He didn't really play any sports in high school.

04-12-2009, 08:27 PM
Where are his elbows? Behind the bar or under the bar?

04-12-2009, 08:34 PM
Make sure he is shoving his knees out and sitting back in between his legs. It's a lot easier to get depth that way.

Also, if he is losing power and tightness at the bottom, his knees might coming forward as he comes close to parallel, so he loses tension in his hamstrings. Again, keeping the knees out should help with this.

And leaning forward is not necessarily a bad thing. He might have to lean forward more than others because of his proportions. As long as the weight stays on his heels and his back is straight, I don't think leaning forward is a problem.

You might also want to try narrowing or widening his stance to see if he has an easier time hitting parallel.

04-12-2009, 09:38 PM
Even if his hamstrings are flexible he might have very tight hips. I used to free fall to a low box when I had hip issues.

Maybe find out about that and try and work on it. As already mentioned you can also try narrowing his stance, this would make depth easier if tight hips were the culprit.

04-12-2009, 11:46 PM
I think collapsing the last few inches is either not pushing out the whole time or his hamstrings are just too weak. Most people start with really, really weak hamstrings. For the lean, abs and low back training are a must. A lot of beginners think leaning helps them get depth, since they can feel the bar moving lower. The problem is their hips aren't getting any lower.

04-13-2009, 08:17 PM
I watched him more closely today taking your guy's advice with me. His knees stay out the whole time,and he never goes towards his toes. I looked at his elbows too and they are a little too far back.

Yeah I'm pretty sure his hamstrings are just weak, though I'm going to have him experiment with some different stances too, he's probably too wide. I noticed that even for deadlifts he likes a wide stance.

04-13-2009, 08:31 PM
I just went thru this issue myself. Due to my handicap I can only take a heals @ shoulder width stance which is GOING to cause your squat to kind of look like a 1/2 good morning 1/2 squat. Yes it is harder to hit parallel but with time you will get there. The narrow stance is more of a speed squat. Break at the hips and drop. VS, wide (er) stance and sit back and take as long as you want for more control. If there is no reason why he can't take a wider stance, you should try it. 1) ROM to parallel is a lot shorter. 2) he can "sit back" all day long to get to parallel and have less of a upper body lean. 3)less stress on the lower back. I hope this helps. My info came from John Bernor who has a Pro journal up on here. John has helped me beyond what words can say.

04-13-2009, 10:40 PM
If he's sitting back to the box, he's not going to be able to stay upright. I guess I'd have to see him to know for sure, but unless it's excessive, I don't know that there's a problem at all, especially with a low bar position.