View Full Version : Please criticize my squat and deadlift

Israel Halperin
11-22-2006, 06:28 AM
i am fully aware of my moving forward torso the lower i get, i just dont understand why its happening and how can i fix it.


Mike ODonnell
11-22-2006, 06:58 AM
"forward torso the lower i get"

can't open the files, but sounds like the common overdominant quads and weak hamstrings/glutes. Instead of letting your glutes/hams take the weight transfer it turns more into a back bend which is dangerous. Also may be a lack of flexibility in your calves and a weak spinal erector rocking you forward. Solution: Go lighter and master the form all the way down...deep. Try box squatting to get the hams firing again.

If your form isn't right...step back and go lighter till it is.

David Aguasca
11-22-2006, 11:42 AM
i think you hit the nail on the head, even without seeing the videos, mike.

israel, your deadlift looks all right to me...maybe try to emphasize the shoulders back? i can't really tell if you're doing that already.

with the squat, it doesn't look like you're even getting your thighs parallel to the ground. i'd definitely work on getting lower down into the squat. go lighter and work on depth.

take a look at this video of aimee anaya back squatting, courtesy of catalyst athletics (work/family safe): http://www.cathletics.com/resources/exercises/videos/backSquat.mov

Mark Rippetoe
11-23-2006, 09:17 PM
I'd be glad to look at them if you re-post in an accessible format.

Israel Halperin
11-24-2006, 04:36 AM
the files will open using realplayer media.

on a side note,mark i am just going through your book for the second time. pure gold. its funny how you from all people offer to criticize my form.

Mark Rippetoe
11-24-2006, 01:05 PM
Tried to open with RealPlayer, no can do. If you can e-mail me another type of file, I'd be glad to look.

Pierre Auge
11-24-2006, 02:39 PM
Here you go Rip, I converted them to quicktime for you...

Isreal, next time you sneak a video camera into the gym make sure your buddy is holding it upright while filming you...

Mark Rippetoe
11-24-2006, 03:49 PM
Thanks to the ever-helpful Pierre. Squat looks pretty good, could stand to be a little more on the heels and push the knees out at the bottom. This makes the upward hip drive out of the bottom much easier.

The deadlift was more clearly a problem. You are setting up behind the bar in your start position, and your shoulders need to be more in front of the bar before it leaves the floor. Notice that you get in that position the instant the bar leaves the floor anyway, so go ahead and set up there before you start. That way there'll be no wasted movement before the bar leaves the floor and the movement will feel "shorter" to you as your efficiency improves, as well as lighter when it breaks off the floor. Raise your butt higher, get out over the bar, push it back to your shins and pull.

Sam Lepore
11-24-2006, 06:55 PM
Good Stuff Mark. Keep the posts coming!! You are very well respected around here.:bowdown:

Israel Halperin
11-24-2006, 08:11 PM
Pierre, thanks for your help ! next time i post a vid here ill make sure it will be done better.

mark, i am surprised you think my squat looks good ? does the fact that i lean forward during the descent indicates that i lack flexibility or strength in my hamstrings/gluts or could it be accepted as my individual movment pattern.

about the deadlift, very interesting observation, never even though of that.
other that the start, do you think the form is ok? i figured that my butt takes off first indicates at least something, or again, should i accpet it the way it is.

thanks alot, israel

Carrie Klumpar
11-25-2006, 11:35 AM

The only time you really lean forward too much in the squat, imo, is near the bottom, as you're coming up. It's more evident in the second rep, where there's a little "loop" forward near the bottom as you push up out of the hole. Watch the path of the bar: for the most part, it stays right in line with your feet (which is necessary and is why your back comes forward in the descent--to allow the bar to stay in the frontal plane and over your COG). Except at the bottom, where you allow your weight to shift forward onto your toes and then have to almost swing or rock it back into the position it needs to be in so you can drive it up. Instead, keep your weight distributed over your whole foot and actively keep your chest up and your torso rigid. I'd like to see you set your breath at the top before you go (take a big belly breath and then bear down to create intra-abdominal pressure) and use that to brace your torso and keep everything tight during the lift.

I think what Rip is saying about the DL is directly about your butt taking off first. Play the video and then pause it just as the bar begins to come off the ground (when your butt reaches the top of its initial rise, 0:00:12 on the video). This is where Rip says "Notice that you get in that position the instant the bar leaves the floor anyway." That's when you actually start lifting, and that is exactly where Rip wants you to set up to start with. Note that at the point your hips are high, your shoulder blades are over the bar (which means the fronts of your shoulders are in front of it), and the bar is right on your shins. In fact, the freeze-frame at that point in the video is actually a pretty good demo of what a good set-up position should look like.

Israel Halperin
11-25-2006, 01:53 PM
Carrie, thanks for the detailed descriptions.

soon enough i will film my form again with the same weight and post it here.

Mark Rippetoe
11-25-2006, 05:01 PM
What Carrie said, yeah. The mechanics of the squat dictate that the bar will be over the middle of the foot when the system is in balance. This means that if your back is extremely vertical, the knees will also be far forward and your hips will be forward, and this position is not conducive to the effective engagement of the "posterior chain", the glutes and hamstrings, which initiate the drive up from the bottom. Don't worry so much about your back angle, just keep your spine in extension, tight like Carrie advises, and drive your butt straight up out of the hole.

Her comments about the deadlift were also on the money.

James Falkner
11-26-2006, 11:04 AM

"Starting Strength" is on my Christmas list.. until then I noticed you said:

"This means that if your back is extremely vertical ... this position is not conducive to the effective engagement of the "posterior chain"

My question is, as a beginner in olympic lifting, I have learned that a good squat form (e.g. when doing front squats) is to have a mostly vertical back/torso. Is this true? How vertical is "too" vertical before it limits the efficiency of the posterior chain? Should you shoot for differing amounts of "verticalness" when doing front squats vs. back squats vs. squatting to catch a clean/snatch?}

Charles Steven Ossenheimer
11-26-2006, 11:39 AM
imo, i think that if your back has a natural arch while squatting (whether is back or front) i think your safe.

Mark Rippetoe
11-26-2006, 03:51 PM
My question is, as a beginner in olympic lifting, I have learned that a good squat form (e.g. when doing front squats) is to have a mostly vertical back/torso. Is this true? How vertical is "too" vertical before it limits the efficiency of the posterior chain? Should you shoot for differing amounts of "verticalness" when doing front squats vs. back squats vs. squatting to catch a clean/snatch?

Here is a preview of the 3rd book from the Aasgaard Company, Basic Barbell Training:

The front squat is another matter entirely. It is a completely different exercise, different enough from the back squat that it should not be used by novices still trying to learn that movement. Front squats use a different mechanical model than the back squat, in that the hips are not the emphasis.
The differences in the two movements are entirely due to the bar position. In order that the system is in balance the bar must stay over the middle of the foot, while it is in the resting position at the top and as it travels down and up through the whole range of motion of the exercise. The back squat will thus be done with a back angle of somewhere between 25 and 45 degrees forward of vertical to permit the bar’s vertical position over the foot. Since the bar sits on the anterior deltoids in the front squat, with the elbows up and the hands trapping the bar in place, the required back angle is nearly vertical. This extremely upright position places the bar over the feet, and keeps it from falling off the shoulders. Front squats are missed when the weight is too heavy to squat, or too heavy for the back to stay upright enough to hold the bar in place. In either instance, the bar falls away forward.
The position of the bar determines the best way to drive up out of the bottom. The back squat uses a “hips” cue, which enables a more forceful, deliberate initial hip extension. The idea is to drive the butt straight up out of the bottom, which is a way to more effectively make the glutes, hamstrings, and adductors fire. This hip drive is possible because the back is at an angle which permits it; driving the butt up with the chest in front just requires that the chest be maintained in position, preserving the back angle.
This does not work for the front squat. When the back is at an angle, the hips present a “surface” – the top of the glutes, the sacrum, and the lowest part of the lower back – that a coach can touch with the hand and identify to the trainee. A hand can actually be placed on this area and the trainee told to “push it up.”, a neuromuscular cue that greatly improves the efficiency of the contraction of the muscles that produce the movement. The front squat has the hips directly under the bar, or as nearly so as possible, a position which presents no surface for cueing. There is no area close to the hips that presents a surface that can be driven up. The column of the torso stops at the chest and shoulders, and these, along with the elbows, are the surfaces that get cued. A focus on the chest, shoulders, and elbows – driving them up, even on the way down – preserves the vertical position that is so critical to finishing a heavy front squat. This is in stark contrast to the back squat, both in position and in the way the movement is visualized. The differences are great enough that they should not get confused, but they quite often do, and for this reason the front squat is best left untaught until the back squat movement pattern is undisturbable.
Since the front squat has such radically different form, you might expect that it produces a different result than the back squat. The upper back has a much tougher job because the load it is holding up is further away. The bar in a back squat, low bar or Olympic, sits right on top of the muscles that are holding it up. The front squat places the bar all the way across the depth of the chest, which in a bigger guy might be 12 inches away. This is a much longer lever arm than no inches at all and presents a mechanical challenge to the muscles that maintain thoracic extension. It is very common to get pretty sore between the shoulder blades when first starting the exercise. And since the knees are so much further forward than when in back squat position, the hamstrings are not as involved in the hip extension. But the hip extension must still be done, so the glutes end up doing most of the job without the help of the hamstrings. The knees-forward position puts the quads in a position to do most of the work after the initial hip extension.
The primary difference, then, between the two squats is one of degree in terms of the amount of involvement from the contributing muscle groups. But the primary reason for the difference is the position in which the system is in balance – the bar in both cases must be over the middle of the foot, and the correct back angle is the one that keeps it there.

Hope this helps.


David Aguasca
11-26-2006, 04:09 PM
wow, awesome, rip. i totally got owned comment-wise...i should probably stick to commenting on stuff i know well :bangin:

can't wait for the new book!

Israel Halperin
11-26-2006, 04:56 PM
mark, while your still around this thread, i would like to pick your brains a bit more and ask for your opinion about mike boyles point of view on squats.
in his T-nation interview he says that he totally eliminated back squats from his athletes arsenal and substituted them with front squats only.
his reason was since switching to front squats, nearly all back injuries were gone.

Mark Rippetoe
11-26-2006, 05:20 PM
I guess that would depend on how he was coaching back squats. I don't know, but I suspect that if he was getting a lot of injuries out of a lift that, when done correctly, is not particularly hard on the back, there might have been a problem with some aspect of his approach. Can't say from here, as Coach Boyles is not a fool and I have not read the article.

James Falkner
11-26-2006, 06:32 PM

Thanks, the third book definitely sounds like a good read. Your excerpt definitely answered my question!

Pierre Auge
12-06-2006, 07:21 PM
Rip doesn't know what he's talking about:icon_smile_joke:

I'm going to harass you in all good humour until you figure out how to make this 145lbs frame 180lbs!!!

Rip is a genious!