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Thread: Upper Back tightness when squatting

  1. #1
    Powerlifter/Strongman J L S's Avatar
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    Upper Back tightness when squatting

    Fella's,

    tonight I worked upto a max effort single on squats. I know weights above 90% generally tend to get ugly or are slow. I got my last lift and ironically my max spot on, form didnt break, un rack and walk out were smooth and I know you're probably thinking well thats not a true max then. Wrong, it was slow as hell finishing, wouldnt have had another 0.5 of a kilo believe me.

    I believe I have a problem with my upper back tightness as generally when im up around 90+ the bar tends to roll if im lazy, or my upper back lets me down. Ive worked hard last two training cycles at increasing mass up there but im starting to think maybe taking a different approach in isometrically training my abs/and upper back/thoracic region. The only other way I can think of helping myself out is practicing unracking heavy weights so reverse band squats and or heavy walkouts, possibly high rep SSB seated GM's, in a thoracic extention sort of movement.

    Also, I know I have ways to go in just getting plain stronger everywhere (500lbs) but im keen to hear some of you really strong guys suggestions and if you've seen and conquered this before yourselfs.
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  2. #2
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    How's your grip. For some a easy fix is a closer grip. It allows you to sit upright easier.
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  3. #3
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    First, 2 cycles of work will do nothing in the long run for building an upper back. think more like 2 years.

    Absolutely, do not do Seated SSB Gm's EVER, unless you're interested in some long-term back problems.

    Solutions:
    -SSB Squats are great. Don't overdo it. Just work
    -As Scott Mentioned, your grip width will be a factor.
    -Isometric training is fine, but just keep your shoulder blades pinched while you row. Never let your shoulders come un-pinched.
    -Nut up and keep your shoulders pinched.

  4. #4
    Powerlifter/Strongman J L S's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScottYard View Post
    How's your grip. For some a easy fix is a closer grip. It allows you to sit upright easier.
    A pretty obvious solution to smack in the face with, my grip is quite wide considering im not a heavyweight, Im probably 3-4 inches away from the end of the barbell. The more I think about it , it seems more a great suggestion, Will have to get to work on my mobility too

    Quote Originally Posted by RhodeHouse View Post
    First, 2 cycles of work will do nothing in the long run for building an upper back. think more like 2 years.

    Absolutely, do not do Seated SSB Gm's EVER, unless you're interested in some long-term back problems.

    Solutions:
    -SSB Squats are great. Don't overdo it. Just work
    -As Scott Mentioned, your grip width will be a factor.
    -Isometric training is fine, but just keep your shoulder blades pinched while you row. Never let your shoulders come un-pinched.
    -Nut up and keep your shoulders pinched.
    haha dropping some knowledge bombs and telling it how it is. I like it. Thanks rhodes, I got some good suggestions in my log too so got some idea's to work with which went along with yours and scotts. I especially like the nut up suggestion, Gonna have to make that my intention every squat day. Got a de-load next week then into a meet training cycle so I'll get after it there! If anybody else wants to chime in with how you geared guys hold these big weights on your backs feel free
    Last edited by J L S; 08-15-2012 at 12:01 PM.
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  5. #5
    Dr. Subtotal
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    Rhodes is spot on. Cost/Benefit like anything else. If your problem is thoracic extension, you can use a GHR bench with a band choked around the bottom of it. Just google that. I've had lifters fix that issue easily with that exercise in warmups and for heavier volume at the ends of workouts.

    Along the Scott's advice, have someone cue you during your singles.
    Having someone scream "elbows down, chest up" can go along way towards actually doing that in a meet. Just as I would scream knees out if someone's knees routinely cave in. Everyone, even top lifters, are given cues by handlers/coaches.

    With regards to upper back training, things like face pulls I find are better for structural balance and hypertrophy. But exercises like Front Squat walkouts are a good place to start. If your upper back is weak, no matter how big it is or how many rows/pullups/face pulls you do, you'll have problems front squatting or holding the barbell in the front squat/rack position. Geared lifters need to adapt to those heavier weights and that comes from training whether it's the ME method for Conjugate guys or wearing your gear/utilizing accommodating resistance for singles for other methods. Find a way to address the issue within your program.
    Last edited by BloodandThunder; 08-15-2012 at 02:28 PM.
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  6. #6
    Powerlifter/Strongman J L S's Avatar
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    theres some excellent info in there Blood and thunder, I havent got a GHR bench however ive got a good idea of how i can use other equipment weve got to mimmic that exact exercise, there a preacher curl machine we have and I have a feeling I can kick the bodybuilders off for a while and use the pad on there.

    The cues from training partners is already in the works but I use the conjugate method myself and I cant quite seem to see what you are getting at with the front squats, I understand adressing the heavier weights, but could you expand a bit more on the walkouts etc?
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  7. #7
    Dr. Subtotal
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    Quote Originally Posted by J L S View Post
    The cues from training partners is already in the works but I use the conjugate method myself and I cant quite seem to see what you are getting at with the front squats, I understand adressing the heavier weights, but could you expand a bit more on the walkouts etc?
    For Abs on your lower ME or DE day, just load up a bar and walk the bar out and hold that front squat position for time. If you're having a hard time walking out 400+ lbs and holding it in position, it's either your upper back or the failure of your abs to resist the load. It's an easy way to address the issue. You can do like 3-4 sets for time and either go for longer periods of time with the same weight or increase the weight.

    If your upper back is the limiting factor in the squat, chances are this exercise will address that pretty quickly. Alot of lifters with a similar problem will have a very very large low bar squat compared to their high bar and front squat. Do you find this is true for you?

    Also, Snatch Grip shrugs will light your upper back up big time. Very hard to handle alot of weight if your upper back is weak.
    Last edited by BloodandThunder; 08-15-2012 at 05:27 PM.
    Trample the weak, hurdle the dead
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  8. #8
    illinois fattest lifter theBarzeen's Avatar
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    I agree with most of what's posted above.... lots of good advice here.

    The only idea I'd like to put out here is that it's just a form issue and not a strength issue( or both)

    If you were fine on a max weight this time then the strength is there.

    Donnie Thompson did a video a few weeks back ( look it up on his youtube channel if you'd like) where he talks about driving your upper back against the bar ( thinking head back) as you drive out of the hole. I had some bad problems this past year shooting forward out of the hole and this cue from my spotters helped me get through that..... just a thought.
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  9. #9
    Powerlifter/Strongman J L S's Avatar
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    my front squat is very low in comparison to my low bar squat but high bar squatting im actually not that bad at!

    Im pretty glad I posted the question in here to be honest, lots of good advice and things to work on, I started my training cycle tonight for my meet in 8 weeks.

    I also watched the donnie T video a few times over.Tonight I did snatch grip pin pulls for higher reps 15+ as opposed to the snatch grip shrugs and I also tried the front squat walkouts tonight with 225 and stood for about 20 seconds for 3 sets. I will build up the weight over time but straight away I can tell they will be good! Thanks alot everybody for your input! I will be sure to post how I do and how the things that have been mentioned have helped or not!
    Last edited by J L S; 08-21-2012 at 03:26 PM.
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  10. #10
    Powerlifter/Strongman J L S's Avatar
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    for everybody who posted in here before, please check this out. I finally have a vid to follow

    http://www.wannabebig.com/forums/sho...is-time-around
    Check out my training:
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