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Alexander Karatis 12-02-2003 02:34 AM

1. Squat

I have been constantly trying to perfect my technique and explosiveness in the squat. More specifically I have been trying to get lower and lower each time, while steadily upping the weights. What I am having conflicts about is my leg width and toe stance. I perform much better with a tad wider than shoulder width, and my toes pointing to 10-11 o´clock and 1-2 o´clock respectively. I generally have this duck feet tendency even while walking (don´t know what causes this) so it is much more comfortable for me to squat in this way. Question is, am I cheating?

2. Deadlift

Thanks to the super-kind Glassmans, my previous misconceptions and questions about the DL have dissapeared and have been answered. Upon receiving that free-journal copy of the DL however, one did spring up. Where does the rep start and end? I suppose the set starts once you pick the bar off the ground for the first time. It sounds kinda silly but do I have to lower the bar to just above ground level next rep around, and thus bend my knees in the process? Or do I go as low as possible without moving my knee joint (keeping it slightly bent)?

3. That ´´improvised´´ lift

I am known to grab a bar and try and do weird things with it from time to time. Basicallyt just variations of exercises. Some I´ve seen before, others I haven´t. This one starts in an ultra-wide deadlift position. Bar to the floor, toes almost touching the plates, back arced...I use a mixed grip and squat the weight up, then after a brief respite, I let the weight down to ´hang´, with my butt almost to the ground. The movement is then completed by squatting up to that previous rest position. The brief moment where the bar nears the end of its downward motion is where I feel most leg recruitment taking place in order to stop the fall, and give momentum to the subsequent squat.
The thing is, it might look like a deadlift and sound like a squat, but the mechanics of it, and the stress put on every single leg muscle is too spread out and varied for it to feel like any another DL or Squat variation I know of. Essentially, I feel it is great for quad work, glutes, and absolutely kills all stabilizers with that wide stance... I´m sure there´s something like it out there, or even a better exercise to develop what it achieves, but I just wanted to share it you guys!

Alexander Karatis 12-02-2003 03:10 AM

OK, here is what my sad artistic abilities could achieve to better illustrate that ´´improvised´´ lift... The key is maximum leg width and minimal hip movement when lifting the weights.

Steve Shafley 12-02-2003 07:09 AM

That basically looks like a sumo style deadlift.

Alexander Karatis 12-02-2003 08:11 AM


I was under the impression that the sumo DL is just a close grip, stiff leg, wide stance DL with basically no leg movement and only hip movement. Or am I wrong?

David Wood 12-02-2003 09:31 AM

I gotta agree with Mr. Shafley . . . your description and drawing (which is quite good, by the way, very clear) is pretty much a textbook "sumo-style" deadlift . . . characterized by wide stance, toes at 10:30 and 1:30, and a somewhat narrow grip on the bar, taken between the knees.

If you're interested in seeing where an obsession with the sumo deadlift (and with very heavy, partial-range movements in general) can lead you, check out: and follow the links to the "sumo pages" on the left side of this screen.


Alexander Karatis 12-03-2003 07:52 AM

Hey Dave!

Great link! Gave me some good ideas about practical jokes!

Again though, on Question #3...How is it not a squat, if I go all the way down, do not let the weights touch the ground, and push to get my legs straight again. If I had the bar on my back and did the same movement, wouldn´t you call it a squat?

BTW, what´s your take on Qs #1 and #2?

David Wood 12-03-2003 09:16 PM


Well, you've sort of got me. I agree that if you had the bar on your back as you did that motion, it would be a "wide stance, toes out" squat (I guess some people call that a "sumo squat" . . . not sure if it has any other formal or informal name(s)).

The fact that you're holding it below your body is enough to qualify it as a deadlift in my book, however . . . sort of a semi-arbitrary naming convention.

But . . . this is not to imply that the squat and DL are interchangable. They do work the body in signficantly different ways. The DL works grip and lattissimus muscles in ways that the squat does not. It also works the hamstrings and spinal erectors to a greater degree.

Squats (to me) work the quadriceps more, and the gluteus "differently" (not more or less, just "differently") than the DL.

Note also that squat comes in many, many different flavors ... bar high on the back, bar low on the back, front squats, overhead squats . . . they all work the body differently, and all are valuable.

If you like doing the move you describe, and it's not hurting you, I'm not sure that it matters too much what you call it.

About Q1: I honestly don't know. The only thing I've consistently heard about foot position is that your knees should track out directly over the feet (at whatever angle the feet are turned). I tend to have a fairly straight-ahead position (turned out only a very few degrees), but it does get more turned-out under heavy loads . . . but still probably to no more than 1 o'clock and 11 o'clock.

About Q2: Well, I think you're generally allowed to 'touch and go' . . . your DL can touch the ground, but shouldn't actually rest on it. However, I break this rule all the time, particularly in a long set where I need to re-set my grip to keep going (I have a very lousy grip; it often fails when my legs/back can keep going).

It seems to me this is a personal call, and depends on whatever standard you want to hold yourself to. Certainly if I just "touch and go" I consider it an unbroken set. If I put the weight down just long enough to re-set the grip (less than a second), I'll still call it one set. If I stand up, breathe, or walk away, well, that's not one set . .. . (unless, of course, the whole protocol is one of Pavel's "breathing ladders" or something . . .)


Robert Wolf 12-03-2003 10:45 PM

Kreiky covered it all!

Alexander Karatis 12-05-2003 03:08 AM

Thanks for the response Dave. Its not really that I want to find a name for it, but rather, finding out what its name is or should be, determine what benefits I would be getting from prolonged use of the exercise.

Regarding Squats now and how they train my glutes equally bit differently ...I have never felt my glutes sore from a heavy squatting day, which is something I cant say about DL days...

Knees tracking out directly over the feet? Sorry, this where my english doesnt help me visualize something :happy:

In general two "faults" Ive noticed when squatting(and so has a "trainer") at a gym are:

1. Fluttering knees

When it gets too rough and the load is too heavy My knees will usually wiggle inwards to help me bring the weight up. Could this be attributed to my 10:30-1:30 foot stance? If I bring them both at 12:00 oclock I cant quite get the range and depth I get now.

So you see Im at a conflict. Either Im doing them right and something else is causing the knee flutter, or Im doing them wrong, and not getting adequate range with 12:00 positioning means I have poor flexibility.

2. Yawing Pelvis

At same time I notice the above fault, something else might spring up. My pelvis will usually yaw to one direction at the make it or break it moment of the squat. Is this attributed to a stronger right leg or am I trying to produce momentum with this yawing to help me get the weight up (and thus am cheating)?

I know disecting my squats and my little bitty faults might be a bore, but I am certain I am far off my potential performance...

David Wood 12-05-2003 08:06 PM


1) The sense I was trying for when I used the phrase "knees track directly over the feet" is that the kees should BE directly over the feet . . . not inside or outside them . . . regardless of whether the feet were straight ahead, or turned out.

Another way of putting it: if you could put a camera direclty over your knee while squatting, pointing straight down, the camera should see your toes directly below your kees.

Or another: If you had headlights on both the knees and the toes, they spot(s) on the opposite wall that they illuminate should be directly above and below one another.

What you were describing where your kees "wiggle inwards" under heavy load is exactly what I'm identifying as something to be avoided . . . and yes, it's probably because your 10:30-1:30 foot stance is too much angled out.

I'm tempted to guess that your knees are probably trying to find their angulation for maximum strength on their own . . . and you should take note of that and set your feet to that angle BEFORE you load up for heavy squats. This is probably where you'll be the strongest.

For myself, I have to consciously turn my feet out a bit more than "usual" (maybe to about 11:00-1:00) for heavy loads, because that's where my knees want to go.

2) Man, I had to go look up what the verb "to yaw" was . . . OK, so it's one of the fundamental directions that a airplane can go out of level in: pitch (nose down or up), roll (one wing down or up), and yaw (skewing side to side with wings and nose level).

So, if your pelvis is yawing to one side, I assume that means it's turning (slightly?) while staying more or less level in the same plane?

If so, I bet you are turning so that your stronger leg is forward (for you, turning to your left?), and yes, I bet it's that you are trying to favor, or make more use of, your stronger leg. Stop that. (If it's a PR 1-rep max that you are going for, all right, but otherwise, if it's a "training" set, stop it. You don't want to be favoring one leg, particularly not the one that's already stronger.)

NOTHING about this stuff bores me (well, almost nothing).


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