View Full Version : Need some help with my squat!

Mike Gray
07-09-2007, 05:00 AM
Hi guys!

I've begun doing Starting Strength, and I'm having trouble getting my squats consistently below parallel. Here's some footage from yesterday:


I was lugging 100kg and this was the last of three sets, but there's still no excuse!

The question is, do you guys have some tips that would help me get this shaped up? Among other things, I'm wondering if I'm simply not strong enough to squat 100kg 5 times yet - maybe I just need to reduce the weight.

But I also feel like there could be some technique issue that I'm bungling - say, leaning too far forward. (?)

Anyway, I'd appreciate any help you can give me!

Jerry Berg
07-09-2007, 06:16 AM
to make sure my squats are below parallel, i grab a bungee cord or some sort of band and wrap it around the bottom of the squat rack about 12 inches off the ground and make sure my butt hits it.

and yes, your 5RM prob will decrease.

Lincoln Brigham
07-09-2007, 08:22 AM
I've heard powerlifters say that every additional inch of depth cuts 40 pounds off the squat. While that guesstimate may be a bit much, it doesn't look like you're strong enough to squat 100k to parallel. My personal experience is that I can squat about 75-100 pounds more if I stop at the depth you are using.

Andrew G. Greenberg
07-09-2007, 11:23 AM
Mike, some observations:

1: looks like your rack is a bit too high; does it feel that way?

2. look down, not up when you squat

3. elbows are in a good position, wrists could be a touch straighter but that's really just nit-picking

3. you don't really have the lower back/hip flexibility yet that you need for full ROM, so I would suggest cutting the weight for now and working on depth

4. bit too much extraneous movement/ shifting/ setting up before the lift and after the weight is on your back. i find that making it "cleaner" helps focus and concentration. four steps back is pushing it; I think Rip suggests 2 total (but I know that's probably nit-picking too).

5. breathing looks good. you breathe in too early on the first rep.

6. you start to "plummet" near the end of the set, you need a controlled descent. Also, you are not bouncing out of the hole, you are getting stuck there and having to grind it up. this is evidence that the weight is a bit much.

7. a bit of shifting forward, but actually that improves throughout the set, so good job.

8. pretty big loss of lumbar flatness at the end of the set.

all in all I think you have the right idea with chest up, arm position, breathing, but i suggest cutting the weight A LOT and just working on form for a few weeks with like 95. If you don't have perfect form with the light stuff it's not just going to spontaneously appear on the heavy stuff.

hope some of this helps.

Arden Cogar Jr.
07-09-2007, 12:11 PM
I'll add some thoughts to the above.

First, good work. You're doing very well and you're making very good progress. To get depth, you'll need to back the weight down and work on your form.

I think you're initial set up is wrong. You've got your hips too far back. Relax. Get the weight over top of your heels and your hips forward before each rep. You want to be standing naturally with the weight on your shoulders. Right now, you've got yourself in a position that has the weight well in the front of your feet.

Second, I don't like to see anyone squat barefoot, but that's a personal preference. I tore cartlidge in my right knee about 15 years ago and I truly believe it was because I squatted in aqua socks instead of good shoes. Again, that's just a personal preference. I would recommend Chuck Taylor's or Van's skateboard shoes for squatting and deadlifting. Oly lifting shoes are excellent as well.

Third, I'd stretch your calves really good before each squat session.

Fourth, If you want that depth, really throw your butt back, put your weight on your heels and sit back like you're taking a dump in the woods. Try to bring your toes off the ground to keep your shins parallel.

Fifth, stay tight. Don't ever bounce "in the hole" or try to get depth. This is practice a lot of powerlifters, including myself at one time, practice and it's not good. At least that's what I know now.

I hope this helps?

Keep it up.

All the best,

Mike Gray
07-09-2007, 02:45 PM
Thanks guys!

I really appreciate all the feedback - CF has created an amazing generous community and I'd like to hope that I'll gradually learn enough to give soething back!

* I'll scale back the weight some more and see if I can get my form and flexibility to a better place.

* I'm not sure about the height of my rack since I've never used a proper one - but since it can't easily be changed (that's your DIY special, that is!) I'll going to try to convince myself that it's just fine!

* I'm on the lookout for better shoes - but that may be a while. Are no shoes better than, say, hiking boots? I have some hiking books I could use, but they have cushioned soles.

* Arden's comments about my setup were particularly illuminating! I hadn't realized how far forward I'm leaning. I have a feeling of being to far forward when I hit the bottom but I hadn't considered that I was starting out with my balance already out of whack.

* * * *

BTW, Arden I wanted to say thanks not only for these comments but for some comments you gave me some time back about bench pressing. I printed them out and keep them next to the bench - and now that I'm doing SS they're getting a lot of use! In fact, you may be amused by the following comparison:



I'm not saying that my present capacities as a benchpresser (or any of weight lifting disciplines!) are anything short of embarassing - but I think you'll agreed that it's a lot better than before!

Patrick Donnelly
07-09-2007, 04:53 PM
Place a medicine ball behind you, and touch your rear to it on every rep. This will help you to sit back more.

Connie Morreale
07-09-2007, 05:47 PM
call me a bit too safety minded...alot of crossfitters lift in socks, but, any kind of shoe will provide some protection if a weight plate hits your foot. you'll still wind up with a broken bone, but without shoes you could have a toe hacked off. seriously.

Arden Cogar Jr.
07-10-2007, 07:49 AM
Wow!!! Much improved on the bench press. Keep it up. Thanks for the kind words. We're here to help. We share in fitness and in sillyness.

All the best,