I've been doing the Starting Strength program lately and have been feeling great with it.
My only question is one concerning the squat. Mainly, I'm wondering if I'm crouching down far enough. I definitely feel it in my legs but sometimes I do have to "correct" myself (perhaps my upper body leaning to far forward...) with a brief muscle contraction in the lower back which doesn't hurt but does make me wonder if I am performing the exercise correctly.
Here's what I do: the bar is across my back and a bend my knees until my upper leg and lower leg (with regards to the knee) form a 90 degree angle - slightly before reaching parallelism. So I'm not going down really far but I am feeling it right in the quads and it's tough work to get back up.
I've looked into the "proper" method but it appears to be variable - while people may be doing the squat, it looks as if there are different methods in which to perform it. I've also run into a term which implies an action, if I am understanding it correctly, that I do not do in my squat. The phrase is "Ass to the grass". I've gathered that this means that you should squat low enough so that your hamstrings come into contact with your calves. Again, this is not something I do nor is it something I come close to doing. Should I?
I want to correct this, if it needs correcting in the first place, before I go on much farther with the training program even if it means removing weight so that next week I can begin working out with the best possible form and progress from there.
You haven't read the book.
If you're not going below parallel (the crease of the hip below the knee) then it is not a squat. Rippetoe recommends you should go slightly lower than that. Not everyone can get ATG and it's a lot more difficult depending on your style of squatting. For instance, I can get my hamstrings to my calves with a narrow stance, but not with a wider stance.
You should go at least to parallel. If you would like to go lower and can do so safely, go for it.
PS. Your body has to lean forward in a squat. The amount of forward lean will depend on bar placement (high bar or low bar).
Last edited by Jorge Sanchez; 11-21-2008 at 01:56 PM.
Read the book. Watch the Squat Rx videos.
A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
Lifting Clips: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=johnnymnemonic2
I am doing SS as well and am squatting as low as I can go (Ass to the Grass). You will definitely need to lower the weight a bit. You should feel fatigue in your ass, hips and thighs.
All the curl jockeys at my gym look at me funny when I squat. I don't think they've ever seen anyone go so low.
This brings up another question for me - Do the guys who can squat 300+ pounds go ass to the grass? Seems pretty incredible to be able to squat that low with that much weight.
Everyone always recommends going past parallel, touching the hams to the calves, etc, etc. Whatever. I myself along with most bulked up guys I've seen over the years don't do that. You just put a pile of weight on your shoulders, go down until you feel is low enough, keep the form and explode up. That's it. I've seen big dudes do them all different ways, it's just a matter of what you feel is a natural movement and the form that best suits your body. Keep in mind, you do want to adhere to the proper form that most books say, but don't get caught up in going this low or keeping your back like this, etc, etc. You'll just get hurt. Just do them the way your body feels most natural, use strict form, keep adding weight and, most of all, keep squatting consistently. Eventually, you'll get a muscular ass that the chicks love, thick quads and it will become your favorite exercise despite being the most painful (aside from deadlifts).
Its possible that going lower doesn't feel 'natural' because you don't have the flexibility to do it or you dont have the strength in that lower range. I think its actually pretty important to fix either issue, so I would be pretty concerned with going down low enough. You are more likely to get hurt cutting them high and furthering either the strength imbalance or the lack of flexibility.
Above parallel = Force applied to knees
At or below parallel = Force applied to hamstrings
Not only is squatting at or below parallel good for your knees, but squatting above parallel is bar for them.
Parallel = The crease in your hip is parallel to the top edge of your knee:
Last edited by Bango Skank; 11-21-2008 at 06:37 PM.
Starting Strength Wiki
Mil. Press: 165x5
Last edited by joey54; 11-22-2008 at 06:26 AM.
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Just get under the bar!