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Elliot Fuller
03-15-2008, 12:22 AM
Ok, so I did SS for about 3 weeks a month or two ago, and ended up really irritating something in my hip. So I've taken quite a break from heavy lifting, just to re-prioritize and increase my metcon for other things (particularly my running).

I've come up with a system now that I think can accommodate the best of all worlds, and I'd like to give SS another go now that I feel pretty well-healed.

With all of that said, I know that my form on just about every lift is in dire need of correction. None of my lifts are particularly strong, and the ones that do have some sort of decent weight, are usually done with not-so-perfect form.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1I6qWCeBvww (w/fs)

I welcome everyone to point out
a.) What I'm doing wrong
b.) Some ways I might correct it while still being able to increase the loads every time

My objective is to lift heavier, so naturally I don't want to spend 8 weeks doing SS where I'm routinely scaling back... but I know that might be necessary in the long run.

Here are my observations:

Squat:

Sorry for the poor lighting on the first work set of squats
Sorry for not-so-ideal angle, too... space is pretty limited around my weights.
Significant butt wink, but not nearly as prominent as it was the last time I was doing SS.
My depth looks good to me
I think I'm staying back on my heels pretty well
Maybe I need to lower the head a bit
I'm almost hitting failure at 135# ... not even bodyweight :(


Bench:
I've benched only a handful of times in my life; probably pretty obvious from the shaky arms with 95# lol. Felt like I was moving it fine, just not so stable in that position quite yet.
Need better foot plant; I was up on my toes for some of this, and think I need to have them flat
Think maybe I need a wider grip

Deadlift:
As it states in the video, my all time PR is 275# and it was ugly ugly ugly. I've never attempted to go that high since, because I've never felt that my form has been solid enough.

First set:

Lose lumbar curve; probably because the bar is too low


Second set:

Curve looks much better with 105#
Sorry for the crappy angle, obscured by the plates... did my best to get a decent position


Third set:

Hips rise faster than shoulders
Starting position on all but the first rep seems way too high, but even on the first rep, hips rise too fast before the shoulders catch up.
Lack of starting depth looks like it's causing some unnecessary forward lean


And that's about all I can spot for the time being.

I'd appreciate some criticisms as long as they're friendly. In most respects, after a year of CF, I'm still a beginner with most of these lifts at any considerable weight. I'd like to be able to continue adding weights, but know I can't w/ bad form.

Hopefully there's something I can do to keep progressing; I'm sick of being stagnant with my lifts :(

Thanks for taking the time to check it out

Edit: Bodyweight 145#, height 5'9", not sure on LBM but probably < 12% since I'm such a twig :)

Moran Bentzur
03-15-2008, 01:25 AM
I'm not an expert but I will still give my opinion.
The squats look good. The only thing I can spot is the head position (you saw that too).
From this angle it seems like your bench grip is too narrow like you suspect. Your forearm should be prependicular to the floor at the bottom of the lift. Your wrists are not inline with your forearm. This cuases stress on the wrist joint and unproductive power chain for the lift. Keep the wrists locked inline with your arm.
I'll leave the deadlift for more experienced posters. I think you are on the right track - you need to fix your starting position and time the knee/hip extension just right.

Brandon Oto
03-15-2008, 05:46 AM
Is that supposed to be a low bar squat? Because that's not the rack.

Robert Callahan
03-15-2008, 09:47 AM
Hey, keep up the good work, hope this feedback helps :)

Squat: Looks pretty good overall, things i noticed that you did not mention are 1) bar could be racked a lot lower on your shoulders and your elbows could be a lot higher, they look to be kind of dropping under the bar so some of the weight is on the hands. and 2) you are pausing at the bottom of the squat and effectively losing your hamstring stretch rebound. That is why your fatiguing at such a low weight, it looks like you handle 135 no problem except you don't rebound out of the bottom and it makes you work a lot harder. Focus on coming up the whole time you have the weight on your shoulders.
Bench: didnt really see much, could adjust grip a bit? but you looked ok, your shoulder angle looked a bit high, but it was hard to see from this angle, careful with that though can put extra strain on shoulders.
Deadlift: warmup look ok, on your work set though you open your hips before the weight moves off the floor effectively taking your quads out of the motion causing your back to do all the work, thats what leads to some of the bending in the lower back. I have this problem too, best thing to do is go down in weight and just really focus on good posture and not letting your back get more horizontal at any point in the lift so that your using those legs for the first part of the motion. Rip has a section on this common problem in SS too.

hope that helps some, looks good and keep up the work :)

-Robert

Elliot Fuller
03-15-2008, 10:28 AM
Thanks for the tips, particularly the bar position. I should have noticed the bar position first thing; sort of a bad habit I picked up the first time around with SS while I was having some shoulder flexibility problems. Probably also partly to blame for my head position. I'll try to correct that on Monday now that they feel better.

Regarding the DL: Do you think the fact that my hips open too soon is a result of a lack of strength, or just that I'm not used to the motion? I feel like I should be able to handle the 200 with relative ease, but maybe I'm just not tight enough in the core to keep the back with the whole movement.

Would back extensions help this, or should I just keep lifting lighter to train the movement. I don't want to screw up my back, but I also don't want to spend 8 weeks in SS without ever improving my DL :D

Brandon Oto
03-15-2008, 11:26 AM
This may help if you're having trouble finding the rack position. http://degreesofclarity.com/misc/crossfit/low_bar_rack_tutorial.mov wfs

Rayne Gray
03-15-2008, 02:25 PM
This may help if you're having trouble finding the rack position. http://degreesofclarity.com/misc/crossfit/low_bar_rack_tutorial.mov wfs

Brandon, that was a great explanation.

Thanks
Rayne

Adam Noble
03-15-2008, 02:52 PM
Pretty good advice all around. Only thing I would add is that when you are benching with no spotter, or safety catches, take the clamps off the bar. If failure occurs it is easier to escape if you can slide the plates off the bar. Just a thought.

Robert Callahan
03-15-2008, 06:10 PM
Opening of the hips too soon is i think mostly attributed to just not being used to the motion, but if it is a lack of strength it would be a lack of strength in the legs primarily the quads. Back extensions will not fix this, as this is almost more what you are turning the dead lift into, is a stiff legged back extension. I would recommend go down in weight untill you can feel yourself in perfect form and slowly build it up from there. Even if it feels light, it is better to train yourself with good form than pushing yourself hard right away. Just focus on not moving the back while your legs extend, so just your legs are really doing the work for the begining.

If you really feel the need Rip discusses at the end of his book good supplemental exercises, one of these is a half dead lift where you just lift the bar to just below your knees. This focus on that first part of the lift and proper opening of the hips, you could review that section and try adding that in, but i think if you just focus on good form just deadlifting would be enough, but whatever you feel better with :)

-Robert

Leonid Soubbotine
03-17-2008, 04:34 AM
Look down about 6-10 feet from you and tuck your chin - that'll prevent that little slide forward that you only have on work sets of squats.
Looking up kills the hip drive.

Brandon Oto
03-17-2008, 07:01 AM
Opening of the hips too soon is i think mostly attributed to just not being used to the motion, but if it is a lack of strength it would be a lack of strength in the legs primarily the quads.

You don't mean opening the hips too soon. You mean extending the knees/raising the hips without moving the load.

It's partly a form problem, but partly, your starting position is probably just too far back and your body's moving towards the correct one before the weight comes off the ground.

Robert Callahan
03-17-2008, 07:07 PM
yeah sorry, i meant the knee angle is opening too soon, and the hip angle is closing, causing the quads to not contribute as much to the pull as they should. Rip says this is a form issue that is about coordination. it is addressed by reducing the weight and teaching your body the right way to do the lift then coming back up in weight.

-Robert

Elliot Fuller
03-17-2008, 11:06 PM
Today was my "B" workout - Squat/Press/Clean

I'll probably move this to Workout Logs if it gets much longer than another video or two.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KssEO-NpaAs (w/f/s)

Squats
I found the low bar rack ok (thank you Mister Oto), but still lack the flexibility to get my wrists right. This was the case before when I did SS, and it hasn't improved much. On the plus side, it's not painful anymore, at least, so hopefully it will get better. I had my shoulders shrugged back as hard as I could, and elbows lifting as high as they could, but just couldn't get the wrists lined up.

Some other observations regarding the lower rack this time around:


It seems to help reduce my butt-wink significantly -- back looks better to me this time.
It also feels and looks like it limited my depth, though I think I was still getting below parallel on most of them
It looks like my upper torso is much closer to parallel with the ground at the bottom of the squat than it was with the higher rack; is this bad necessarily? This seems to also lead towards a slight forward lean on the ascent.


I tried to focus on some of the suggestions, like rebounding more with the hams at the bottom. I think I handled the weight more efficiently this time, so that's good. Still not great. I consciously tried to keep my head aligned correctly, but old habits die hard, so I'll have to figure out how to rid myself of that subconscious tendency. I notice that on the ones where I really struggle, when I tilt my head forward, I end up pulling through.

I also make some funny faces, but I'm afraid they're lost in the YouTube compression. I call them my Quizno's Baby Cheeks (or John McCain Cheeks, if you swing that way) :)

Press
My previous 1RM shoulder press was 135# at BW 145#. I've lost some strength since then, but that's to be expected. Starting back low again at 105#, BW 150# now.

I didn't see much to critique, although maybe could have chosen a better angle. I really only have 2 angles to film from, and neither are that stellar.

One thing I noticed was that maybe I could get the bar started in more of a straight path instead of so far out in front of, and around my face. Other than that I think my lockout looked ok, but I probably haven't spent enough time looking at overhead press vids to catch any of the smaller nuances that I might have.

Wobbly wobbly :)

Clean
As I haven't practiced my cleans since the last time I really posted them up for critique, it's painfully obvious that they haven't improved much, although they did feel a bit better overall. As someone else once pointed out: I basically do a power clean into a squat, rather than a squat clean.

On top of that, it's again painfully obvious that it's been too long since I've read Starting Strength, as I ended up doing Squat Cleans instead of Power Cleans. Whoops.

In any case, I'm really bad at spotting specific flaws in cleans. I think I pull with the arms too much and too early. The bar gets too high and I don't drop under it (this might be a result of the lighter weight used though). I don't catch it in a very good rack; elbows angled down; bar not far enough back.

I think my legs are too wide on the descent, so much so that the knees start coming in just because they can't bend that far out.

Not enough explosion out of the bottom maybe; again perhaps a function of too light weight.

Starting position felt ok though, and the back looks a lot better than it did before. But not a ton to be happy about, aside from actually getting the weight lifted without hurting myself (kinda hard to do that at 95# anyways) :)

I appreciate all of the advice, and welcome any more. Might be time to hit up an affiliate some time soon to really iron this out.

Robert Callahan
03-17-2008, 11:19 PM
Squats looked great too me, i defiantly noticed the improved rebound keep it up! :)
Press looked good to me as well.
Cleans, need a bit of work :) your feet are landing really wide, the should be landing in a squat stance so shoulder width apart, you were much wider. The other big thing i saw was that you were not getting full extension in the pull. Lets see if i can explain: it should look like a deadlift almost up to the point when your body is totally straight, then you drop underneath the weight, but you were starting to try and get underneath without having fully extended to get the max energy into the pull. I do not know enough to be able to provide tips on how to fix it, i guess i would just review the section in SS. maybe try to get the bar to hit your thighs, it didnt look like it was and that might help you que to finish the pull? I am sure others will have better feedback ;)

Hope that helps, Keep up the good work man your looking good! :)

-Robert

Brandon Oto
03-18-2008, 02:58 AM
Lean back more to start the press; that'll help the path get straighter.

Cleans are a mess :p Arms are bending way early, most of your power is coming from them. True that you're landing pretty wide, but the arms are the main problem; that's why you're catching so high, you're just pulling it up into a sort of curl. Sever your biceps and tie your palms to the bar with cords.

Ryan Blair
03-18-2008, 04:52 AM
I had the exact same thing happen to me in my 3rd week. Both my hips were killing me by the end of the third week. I even posted a vid for Rip to check out on his forum and he said my form was 'really good' which he doesn't hand out much. Mine was only affected by squat, left was worse than right.

I took off squats for a week and I was still unable to squat under weight. I did notice one thing and maybe it's to do with flexibility although I have pretty decent flexibility. I was really trying to eliminate butt wink, and the harder I flexed what I believe is called lower thorasic, my really low back, the more it killed my hip especially at the bottom.

This seems to pop up fairly frequently on his board. I think it's overuse in people who are not accustomed to squating so much, especially very heavy 3 times a week.

So I went back to CF, it took a month to 6 wks for my hip to return to normal, so it's definately not just muscle soreness.
Good luck

Jamie J. Skibicki
03-18-2008, 07:39 AM
I had the same problems with my hips. Read page 45 in starting strength. Your knees should stop moving forward at about 1/3 of the way down (I'm not sure about the number, but again it's in the book). When I took care of the knee movement, hip felt better.

Elliot Fuller
03-21-2008, 12:31 PM
Thanks for all of the responses. I'm not noticing any tension in my hip where I was before. I'm going back through SS with a fine-tooth comb seeing what else I can pick up.

I've got one more video coming and then I think I'll probably have enough to work on and critique on my own.

Three biggest issues squatting:
- Butt wink (I filmed from a different angle and noticed that it's still pretty significant)
- Head position -- I always catch myself on the 4th or 5th rep, heh
- Depth -- with the low bar rack I seem to have a harder time getting below parallel

My presses feel like they'll come around on their own, and I'm glad to see them getting better.

Cleans, as everyone has noticed, are simply a mess, and probably won't be something that I work too intensively (e.g. heavy weights) with SS, since the form is in need of so much improvement.

And lastly, I really need to get the start of my deadlift sorted out. 135# is just under bodyweight, and my form looks a lot better doing it. Up until 185# or so, I think I keep decent form. But anything above and beyond, and I get the fast hip-rise/no-shoulder-rise, and rounded back.

Really need to improve hip and hamstring flexibility to reduce the butt wink, but I think it will also help substantially with my deadlift pull.

Deadlifted 220 yesterday without much strain in the back, but upon looking at the video, I noticed that I still had the same issues. Oh well..

I'll post that video up later today. Sorry for the rambling and thanks again all for the help.

Steven Quadros
03-21-2008, 09:08 PM
It looks as if your knees are still sliding forward towards the bottom of the squat; have you tried the drill rip recommends in the squat chapter with the block of wood to stop the knees sliding forward?

I find that I'm still working on hip flexibility weeks into SS, as well as hamstring flexibility. Don't go crazy trying to get perfect, no butt-wink form at the cost of progressing; work on it as you move up in weight. As you get higher up in weight it helps push you into the hole a little more. I didn't start to notice this until I got up to around 150 or so.

Do you use the stretch Rip recommends, dropping into the hole and shoving your knees out to the side with your elbows? I thought I had it down, but then I spoke to someone who trains at Rips gym and realized I wasn't leaning forward; I tried that and it opened up a whole new world of hurt in my hips and groin.


Thanks for all of the responses. I'm not noticing any tension in my hip where I was before. I'm going back through SS with a fine-tooth comb seeing what else I can pick up.

I've got one more video coming and then I think I'll probably have enough to work on and critique on my own.

Three biggest issues squatting:
- Butt wink (I filmed from a different angle and noticed that it's still pretty significant)
- Head position -- I always catch myself on the 4th or 5th rep, heh
- Depth -- with the low bar rack I seem to have a harder time getting below parallel

My presses feel like they'll come around on their own, and I'm glad to see them getting better.

Cleans, as everyone has noticed, are simply a mess, and probably won't be something that I work too intensively (e.g. heavy weights) with SS, since the form is in need of so much improvement.

And lastly, I really need to get the start of my deadlift sorted out. 135# is just under bodyweight, and my form looks a lot better doing it. Up until 185# or so, I think I keep decent form. But anything above and beyond, and I get the fast hip-rise/no-shoulder-rise, and rounded back.

Really need to improve hip and hamstring flexibility to reduce the butt wink, but I think it will also help substantially with my deadlift pull.

Deadlifted 220 yesterday without much strain in the back, but upon looking at the video, I noticed that I still had the same issues. Oh well..

I'll post that video up later today. Sorry for the rambling and thanks again all for the help.