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Thread: Squat Form Problems - Advice Needed

  1. #1
    Senior Member Jorge Sanchez's Avatar
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    Squat Form Problems - Advice Needed

    I've recently noticed that my squat form is less than perfect. My back tends to lose its natural S-curve at the bottom of the lift. It's not very noticeable (I didn't notice it until I was body-weight squatting without a shirt on next to a mirror), but I would like to fix it nonetheless.

    As I approach parallel my lower back starts to round ever-so-slightly (my back's still straigth, but it does not have the natural curve in it) and gets worse the further below parallel I go.

    Once I noticed the problem I tried to fix it immediately. I threw a hockey stick over my shoulders and started squatting. Whenever I kept my back perfectly straight I would lose my balance, falling backwards. Obviously I don't want to do that with any weight on my back.

    I squat with a slightly wider than shoulder width stance.

    Any tips? I can post a video later if necessary.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    From Athletic Body in Balance, Gray Cook, Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL, 2003. (pg. 46)

    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. Someone who doesn't perform well on the squat assessment test does not know what deep squatting feels like. It's like a journey without knowing the destination. By relaxing the lower back, and doing the toe touch and deep squat progressions, the hips, knees, and ankles get into the squatting position and then set the spine when the hands are lifted off the raised platform. This allows the squatter to feel where she is going. She already knows what the top of the squat feels like - that's standing. Now she knows what the bottom of the squat feels like. The exercise will become an opportunity for motor learning and working out the coordination between the start and finish position.
    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
    Blog: http://squatrx.blogspot.com/

  3. #3
    Senior Member Jorge Sanchez's Avatar
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    I'm not sure I understand exactly what is being suggested by this excerpt:

    By relaxing the lower back, and doing the toe touch and deep squat progressions, the hips, knees, and ankles get into the squatting position and then set the spine when the hands are lifted off the raised platform.
    What's the toe touch and deep squat position? And what is the raised platform? Is it suggesting that I should start by doing this with a (relaxed) arched back?
    Last edited by Jorge Sanchez; 10-30-2006 at 09:25 AM.
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    Senior Member Vapour Trails's Avatar
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    Several cues I use are
    -imagine you are going to sit down on a really low chair
    -begin the movement by pushing the rear out, then down
    -keep chest high and proud, looking at eye level or higher

    There was a good article on squatting in the WBB article section, take a look.

    If you find that you can't maintain a proper arch throughout, you probably should go lighter for a bit.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Jorge Sanchez's Avatar
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    I just re-read the article before starting this thread actually and I'm going to try out some of the tips (particularly keeping my hands closer to my shoulders). And I always consciously think of sitting down while sticking my ass and chest out, head up.

    I don't think the weight is the problem. I think I have a more fundamental problem in the basic mechanics of the movement, because it happens even when I have no weight on my back.

    Essentially, it is a balance problem. If I keep my back arched I fall backwards.
    Last edited by Jorge Sanchez; 10-30-2006 at 09:47 AM.
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  6. #6
    Is cutting down to 9% Jordanbcool's Avatar
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    How old are you. That might be a problem.

    If you're young like me you could just be naturally oafy. A late bloomer maybe. It usually goes away in a few more years. Till then you'll have to really try hard to maintain balance, learn to counter it or just stick with deads and leg press.
    Last edited by Jordanbcool; 10-30-2006 at 10:22 AM.
    Getting back in the groove
    "I'll tell you a secret. Something they don't teach you in your temple. The Gods envy us. They envy us because we're mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we're doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again." - Achilles, (Troy 2004)
    Stats
    ATF squat- 275 RAW
    Deadlift- 415
    Bench- Two 100lbs DB's four times
    190lbs 15% BF (Estimate)

  7. #7
    Senior Member Jorge Sanchez's Avatar
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    Naturally "oafy"? I don't think that's a reason for anyone to be unable to complete a good squat.

    I'm clearly doing something wrong, but I'm sure it can be corrected once I figure out what it is. I don't think there is anything natural about being unable to squat properly.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jorge Sanchez
    I'm not sure I understand exactly what is being suggested by this excerpt:

    What's the toe touch and deep squat position? And what is the raised platform? Is it suggesting that I should start by doing this with a (relaxed) arched back?
    You would have to read the whole section in order to understand every word, but the basic gist is this: If you are losing proper positioning and form at the bottom of your squat, practice maintaining position at the bottom of the squat. For most people, it is a hip/hamstring/lower back flexibility issue.

    If you need to, start by hangining onto a power rack or something when practicing. Really try to arch and "open your knees" while in the bottom position. Try to stick out your chest and if your upper body is inflexible, you might practice extending your hands above your head in this position (as in an overhead squat) - most people will struggle with this.
    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
    Blog: http://squatrx.blogspot.com/

  9. #9
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    Have you tried low weight box squats?

  10. #10
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    Another thing to bear in mind is that your back will almost certainly round with a body weight squat. With some weight on your back, your form might be fine.

  11. #11
    Is cutting down to 9% Jordanbcool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jorge Sanchez
    Naturally "oafy"? I don't think that's a reason for anyone to be unable to complete a good squat.

    I'm clearly doing something wrong, but I'm sure it can be corrected once I figure out what it is. I don't think there is anything natural about being unable to squat properly.
    Its more along the lines of developmental problems. You usually see it in teens. I was terrible at 16. Some people see it earlier and maybe in your case later. The term "oafy" is the best way to describe it. un-cordinated, off balance, bad hand eye cordination etc. I think it has something to do with your body and brain trying to connect as you're going through all the changes of adulthood.

    Saw a big thing on the discovery channel about it Seemed pretty cool so I watched the whole thing.

    -jordan

    P.S. Personally I wouldnt worry about it. You seem to have done them well (enough?) up until now.
    Last edited by Jordanbcool; 10-30-2006 at 02:31 PM.
    Getting back in the groove
    "I'll tell you a secret. Something they don't teach you in your temple. The Gods envy us. They envy us because we're mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we're doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again." - Achilles, (Troy 2004)
    Stats
    ATF squat- 275 RAW
    Deadlift- 415
    Bench- Two 100lbs DB's four times
    190lbs 15% BF (Estimate)

  12. #12
    Senior Member Jorge Sanchez's Avatar
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    Sensei, thanks for the clarification.

    Ancom, I haven't tried box squats before, but I was considering implementing them into my routine before I figured this whole problem out. Now I'm considering it even more seriously.

    Mad Max, I was thinking the same thing. When I squat I generally do a few bodyweight squats as my first warm up. Whenever I concentrate on keeping my arch I tend to have to take a step back to keep from falling over. With weight on my back I don't ever seem to have that problem. I just figured that if I'm rounding my back with bodyweight squats, I'm probably doing it on my weighted squats too.

    My back is somewhat stiff (in a bad way) today, after having done numerous body weight squats yesterday trying to figure this out, but after a squat day my back never gets like that. I would like to get a video of myself squatting with weight sans-shirt to see if I do round my back at all. Regardless of whether or not I do it with weight on my back, it's still a problem that I would like to fix.

    Jordan, I knew what you meant. I haven't grown more than an inch in the past 7-8 years so I doubt that is it. Besides, I have always been fairly coordinated.

    It may actually be a flexibility issue with my ankle, come to think of it. I broke my ankle a few years back and I've never regained full mobility. I'm going to keep trying to perfect this.

    Any more tips are appreciated.
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  13. #13
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    Do you have any problems keeping it straight when deadlifting?

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  14. #14
    Senior Member Jorge Sanchez's Avatar
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    No, I'm fine deadlifting. I think it's because the weight is in front of my body, when I straighten my back I don't fall backwards.
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