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-   -   Width of Legs for Squatting (https://board.crossfit.com/showthread.php?t=6714)

Anthony Myers 02-27-2007 03:52 PM

The way I see things... every exercise we do in Crossfit (with a barbell) is a piece of/ or is an Olympic Lift.
So I thought whenever you do a squat, It should be in the same position you would be in when catching a clean or a snatch.

I was recently reading on T-nation, about how to squat bigger weights.
One tip they had was to widen your stance.

My question is, when ever going for the maximum weight (e.g. CFT) should I (and maybe everyone else) be widening their stances in order to move the most weight and to get a greater value for your work? (amount moved/time)

One thought that has just crossed my mind is..
Should we only widen our stance for the back squat (since it is only there to build strength and doesn't directly help Oly Lift form), in order to move more weight and gain greater strength in the posteriour chain?

Then, with front squats, and Overhead Squats the feet should be placed in the proper catch position?

Here is the link where I got the ideas from.
Work/Family Safe
[url=http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=459775]http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=459775[/url]

Lynne Pitts 02-27-2007 04:33 PM

Link isn't really safe; it's T-mag so you will have lots of not work/family safe pictures and language in the comments. Please be honest in your assessment of links. Think of 8-year-old girls, or your grandma...or your humorless boss looking at it...

Anthony Myers 02-27-2007 04:42 PM

My bad...

I thought I wasn't allowed to post anything not Family/work safe... so, I wanted it to be seen.

I'll change it

Lynne Pitts 02-27-2007 08:21 PM

So lying is a good idea, thereby getting people in trouble? Jeez, dude, that's nuts. You can post links to non-work safe stuff, you just have to let people know so they can make an educated choice.

Bobby A. Smith 02-28-2007 06:09 AM

Give the guy a break Officer of this Forum.

Anthony Myers 02-28-2007 09:04 AM

As long as they don't go anywhere but the actual article. They would be fine.

Does anyone have ideas about my question????

Guest2 02-28-2007 09:27 AM

anthony -

first, the back squat if performed Oly style absolutely transfers to the Oly lifts.

second, changing squat width to increase weight lifted is a waste of time outside of competitive PLing--it's not making you any stronger and is reducing the ROM, so the work may actually not be improved. if you want to PL, do it. if you want to OL (or pretty much anything else), don't. keep all loaded squat stances the same.

REAL work/family safe link on oly squat:
[url=http://www.performancemenu.com/shorties/index.php?show=shorty&shortyID=20]http://www.performancemenu.com/shorties/index.php?show=shorty&shortyID=20[/url]

Anthony Myers 02-28-2007 11:55 AM

I don't know Greg...anthropometrics sounds pretty dirty to me

Thanks for the link..
It recommends having the heels at shoulder width apart, which has already told me to widen my stance. Since, my shoulders are quite wide.

Changing my stance is not really to increase weight for competition, it is just for me to be able to put as much variation and work efficiency for my body to get stronger. e.g. my hips/glutes/ and hamstrings

A quote from the evil article.

///////////////////////////////////////////////
Secret #5: The hips should move before the knees!

If your knees are the first to move while beginning a squat, then your path is going to be straight down. As discussed before, the tension must be on the glutes, hips and hamstrings. These are the muscles that squat big weights, not the quads.

Think about this: Why can't a lifter with a 400-pound deep Olympic squat perform a 700-pound power squat? A powerlifter who can squat 700 can do an easy 400-pound Olympic squat. This is because the Olympic squatter doesn't have the back, glutes or hamstring to support the 700 pounds! What's that tell you about the quads and squatting big weights? (Hint: They just aren't that important!)
\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

When I read this, it totally made my day. Because, throughout my back squat training it hasn't been my quads that have failed me in putting up weights. It was just my hips and their lack of strength.

The main goal of our type of training is to get as strong as possible, for function.
I do not want to be held back becuase we only look at one thing as the "right" thing.
Coach Rippetoe has brought his expertise in Powerlifting to the table, and has inspired me to reach out for new information. We should use it to our advantage.

Guest2 02-28-2007 01:04 PM

shoulder width is just a simple idea for poeple--if you have wide shoulders, this may be too wide.

regarding the OL vs PL squat argument--this neglects the very critical fact that OLers don't contest the squat--all that matters is how much they can snatch and clean & jerk. because of that, a 700# PL squat is absolutely meaningless (never in competition (or even training, really)) will said OLers need to squat in a PL fashion. and yes, if the knee bend is the first thing to occur, your hips will travel as close to straight down as possible--again, this is exactly what needs to happen for OLing. horizontal hip movement means torso lean and torso lean means trouble holding front or overhead squats.

the conclusion that the quads aren;t that important to squatting big weights is actually just kind of a stupid statement. it's comparing apples and oranges. yes, PLers squat more weight that OLers. But look at the movements--they hardly even resemble each other, particularly in ROM.

so for non competitive PL or OL, variety in squatting is wise. for competitive lifting, the choice is clear based on your discipline.

Elliot Royce 02-28-2007 01:15 PM

"My question is, when ever going for the maximum weight (e.g. CFT) should I (and maybe everyone else) be widening their stances in order to move the most weight and to get a greater value for your work? (amount moved/time)"

I think the missing variable is Distance. My coach always talks about the athletes he teaches in his college course: for them, a squat is about putting maximum poundage up even if the distance is half a foot. If you put your legs way out wide, you're unlikely to get depth since you are locking out your hips.

Seems to me it depends on why you are doing the CFT. Different exercises for different purposes.

Mark Rippetoe 03-04-2007 07:00 PM

Greg:

"first, the back squat if performed Oly style absolutely transfers to the Oly lifts."

This has been an interest of mine for a while now. Here is an excerpt from a thing I'm working on now, pasted here to save me some time since I've already got it done:

<<<The Olympic squat has been the preferred form of the exercise for Olympic weightlifters for decades. This seems to be largely a matter of tradition and inertia, since there are compelling reasons for using the low-bar position for weightlifters too. Since the squat is not a contested lift in weightlifting, and since Olympic lifters front squat to directly reinforce the squat clean anyway, the reasons for doing it in training for weightlifters must involve other considerations. The squat makes you strong, and weightlifting is a strength sport; even if it is terribly dependent on technique, the winner is still the one that lifts the most weight. The high-bar position may be harder, but the low-bar position is easier on the lower back, uses more muscle, allows more weight to be lifted, and consequently prepares the lifter for heavier weights.
It is also more applicable to the mechanics of Olympic weightlifting than the high-bar squat. The low-bar position, with the weight sitting just below the spine of the scapula, is the same as the mechanics of the position in which the bar is pulled off of the floor. As the discussions of pulling mechanics in the deadlift and power clean chapters have illustrated, the shoulder blades are directly above the bar when it leaves the floor, and they stay there until the back changes position when the bar rises above the knees. (This is true for both the clean and the snatch, with the snatch being done from a position even less similar to the Olympic squat than the clean.) Low-bar squats done utilizing this same relative position will train the movement pattern more directly than the high-bar version, which places the back at a higher angle due to the higher position of the bar on the traps, and the scapulas behind the position they are in during a pull. And they do it through a nice, long range of motion due to the fact that the squat goes deeper than the start position of either the snatch or the clean and jerk.>>>

I am interested in how your interpretation of the Oly squat differs from mine. Also, merely widening the stance does not produce a "powerlifting " squat, just a wider stance squat.

Rip

Veronica Carpenter 03-04-2007 08:06 PM

[i], merely widening the stance does not produce a "powerlifting " squat, just a wider stance squat. [/i]

I concur. There is a lot of variance in squat width between OLer's. Chinese typically squat very narrow.

Guest2 03-05-2007 02:29 PM

RE width - absolutely, and if something i said was interpreted to mean the only difference between a PL and OL squat was the foot width, i was not clear. that is, however, one difference (by and large competitive PLers use wider foot placement than their OLer counterparts), the others pertaining more to bar placement, depth and the movement/position of the hips (i.e. PL squat involves more backward hip displacement and lower bar to pull in more of the posterior chain).

i agree that the low bar backsquat does mimic the hip/back positions of the OL pulls, and don't disagree that it's a potential variation to throw into the mix from time to time, but if the goal is improving the pull, i would more often opt for clean/snatch pulls or deadlifts, and if posterior chain focus is really sought after, i would lean (pun intended) more toward SLDL and RDLs.

so bottom line, the high bar, upright torso, quad-centric Oly squat i see as primarily intended for improving the squat segment of the clean (and the snatch to some extent), while pulls/deads address the pull more directly. again, though, variation from cycle to cycle always allows for that low bar squat to find a place from time to time, as well as things typically saved for PLing such as box squats (heresy!).

in my experience, the limiting factor of the clean for the majority of lifters is not the pull, but rising from the squat, so with that in mind, heavy front squatting seems to be the order. so i don't see an overwhelming need for performing low bar squats expressly to improve pulling mechanics/strength, although again, variety is needed time to time.

if a lifter's time and recovery ability dictate greater than usual limitations on exercises in a cycle, i will opt for high bar squatting always. if there is room for more variety, i'm not at all averse to throwing in a lower bar squat.

i'm curious to hear the remainder of your position on this though--that is, where in weightlifting programming you see the low bar squat's place.

by the way, read practical programming finally this weekend - excellent work as always.

Guest2 03-05-2007 02:37 PM

just to clarify, since i'm really rushing through my responses, is i think we're talking about the transferability/usuefulness of the two squat variants to two different components of the o-lifts, i.e. the high-bar oly squat -> squat portion of the lifts and the low bar squar -> pull portion of the lifts.

if that's not right, then i really need to consider reducing my pcp intake.

Mark Rippetoe 03-05-2007 03:16 PM

"i'm curious to hear the remainder of your position on this though--that is, where in weightlifting programming you see the low bar squat's place."

My position is that since we don't squat as a competitive lift in OL, the squat is done because it makes you stronger. Stronger is better, and that should not require an explanation, even for the guys at the OTC. Low bar squats make you stronger for OL than high bar squats because you can squat more weight in a position that more closely applies to the positions encountered in OL. My position is that transferability is higher from low-bar squats than high-bar, and that front squats are already doing their job specific to the clean.

I'm curious about this: "so bottom line, the high bar, upright torso, quad-centric Oly squat i see as primarily intended for improving the squat segment of the clean (and the snatch to some extent), while pulls/deads address the pull more directly." Why does this explain the high-bar squats usefulness?

Mike ODonnell 03-05-2007 04:04 PM

So what I am getting so far is thus..to keep it simplistic as possible (since that is how I roll...)

Back Squat - best for strength/mass due to ability to handle larger weights. Go low bar placement. Also directly relates to a pull in the DL/Clean/Snatch.

Front Squat - useful to improve OL lifts by working the catching segment

Where does the OH squat fit in with this arguement? Along side the FS?


Guest2 03-05-2007 05:03 PM

stronger is better of course--even I understand that. but the key is where/how that strength can be applied. i'm not arguing a low bar squat will not deliver strength improvements in the pull, nor in the squat. but i think because of the different hip/back position in the clean vs low bar squat, the low bar squat is not as useful for developing strength for the portion of the clean in which the lifter is rising from the bottom. i agree that the low bar squat can and will improve the strength for the PULL of the clean, but as i said in my last post, i don't see a huge need for that since much of the time lifters' pulling strength is already relatively greater than their front squatting strength - it does me no good to be able to rack 150 kg if i can only stand up with 130 kg.

so in a lifter whose pull is weaker than his front squat, i see more usefulness for the low bar squat, although i would still contest that a better movement for that purpose would be deadlifts or clean pulls since it more closely resembles the movement we're attempting to strengthen. as a variation, the low bar would be a good substitute, but i would not consider it a primary movement.

as far as absolute load in a movement, i can quarter squat a lot more than i can a2a squat--but that doesn't mean that squatting only 1/4 depth with a ****load of weight is the best way to develop strength in a full depth squat. it does have some good benefits, particulary if done explosively, for the 2nd pull of the lifts and drive of the jerk, but that's an entirely different goal.

so am i correct in saying that if, for example, a weightlifter is currently front squatting 2X/week and back squatting 1X/week, you'd prefer to see that back squat of the low-bar variety? i wouldn't necessarily disagree with that--it could be a good way to add more post chain development, help strengthen the back to prevent leaning during front squats/cleans, and contribute to pulling strength. however, this is only useful if the aforedescribed is a problem for a given lifter.

"I'm curious about this: "so bottom line, the high bar, upright torso, quad-centric Oly squat i see as primarily intended for improving the squat segment of the clean (and the snatch to some extent), while pulls/deads address the pull more directly." Why does this explain the high-bar squats usefulness?"

because usefulness is dependent on specific goals, e.g. in this case, improving the ability of the lifter to rise from a clean, so unless a lifter pulls the bar high enough to rack his clean on his back and low (as has been done in competition at least once), the low bar back squat's transferability is not as great as a high bar back squat which is not as great as a front squat.

for the clean the front squat is a superior strength developer (and it doesn't sound like you're arguing with that) because it's as close to the clean movement as we can come without cleaning. to help improve the front squat, occasional back squatting is one option because greater loading can be used. there are 2 choices here: high bar or low bar. the low bar will offer a chance for even greater loading, but i'm not yet convinced that greater load will deliver benefits great enough to eclipse the difference in movement patterns between it and the clean/FS. the low bar squat is so much stronger because of the ability to pull in more contribution of the posterior chain - but that itself will not drive greater strength in the FS/clean because in those lifts, the possible contribution of the posterior chain is limited by the necessarily upright torso. no doubt the greater loading will drive strength that will transfer at least somewhat to the clean/FS, but again, i'm just not sure it will be more than can be transfered from a high bar back squat.

now all of this is based on the low-bar back squat having both a smaller ROM for the hips/knees than the front squat and a greater possible contribution of the posterior chain than the front squat. if i'm not correct on the ROM, than i'm closer to agreeing with you.

but still i'm not clear on your programming suggestions with the low bar BS--how would you combine it with front squatting, and when in a cycle or lifter's career would it be used?

Mark Rippetoe 03-05-2007 06:38 PM

This seems to be the sticking point: "i'm not arguing a low bar squat will not deliver strength improvements in the pull, nor in the squat. but i think because of the different hip/back position in the clean vs low bar squat, the low bar squat is not as useful for developing strength for the portion of the clean in which the lifter is rising from the bottom." What I'm saying is that the hip/back position in the clean vs. the low-bar squat is the same. Look at the back angle of the clean AS IT LEAVES THE FLOOR and compare that with the back angle in the low-bar squat, and you will find that the low-bar squat is more similar to the pull than the high-bar squat. Look at the video, don't just assume, because you're not pulling from the position you think you are.

As has been said already, the FS is for the clean AFTER the rack, that's already being trained, and the FS is sufficient for this aspect of the clean. The high-bar squat is intermediate between the two. Since it is not specific to either position, the pull or the front squat out of the clean, why do it? If your argument is that high-bar is harder, I would say that harder is not necessarily better either; like your statement that a quarter squat uses more weight but that it doesn't transfer, the fact that the high-bar is harder is not really an argument for its use any more than would be an argument to squat on a swiss ball. The low-bar squat uses more posterior chain, allows the use of heavier weights at (amazingly enough) full range of motion, and more closely duplicates the back angle of the clean pull, and for that matter the snatch pull, than the high-bar squat does.

As far as programming it, I advocate using the low-bar in place of the high-bar. Where the program says "squat", put the bar just below the spine of the scapulas and squat. I'm saying don't do high-bar squats.

As for the OH squat fitting in here, Greg and I weren't talking about the OH squat.

Mike ODonnell 03-05-2007 07:23 PM

"As for the OH squat fitting in here, Greg and I weren't talking about the OH squat."

I know...just threw it in there to get some thoughts on whether it was worth it from a OL or Strength POV.

Great Discussion otherwise.

Guest2 03-05-2007 10:06 PM

"What I'm saying is that the hip/back position in the clean vs. the low-bar squat is the same. Look at the back angle of the clean AS IT LEAVES THE FLOOR and compare that with the back angle in the low-bar squat, and you will find that the low-bar squat is more similar to the pull than the high-bar squat. Look at the video, don't just assume, because you're not pulling from the position you think you are. "

I understand that, and I'm not arguing it. I know where a lifter's back and hips are in the pull--as I've said a few times, I'm not arguing that a high bar squat position is at all similar to the pull of either the clean or snatch, nor am i arguing that the low bar squat is not superior to the high bar squat for improving PULLING strength. I know I look a little dumb, but I'm not quite that bad.

I'm not talking about the pull, I'm talking about the squat. What I'm saying is that I'm not sure it's better for improving the strength to rise from the bottom of a clean.

I would still ask - Why use the low bar squat to improve the pulling strength of the clean when you have available deadlifts and pulls? By placing the bar on the back, you're eliminating the need for some of the upper back and shoulder musculature to support the load as it would in a real pull, so you're reducing the number of benefits of the exercise as compared to a pull/deadlift.

And again, most lifters in my experience can pull and rack more than they can stand up with. That being the case, why the greater concern with improving the pulling strength over the squatting strength? And the question I asked above--why use a squat to improve pulling strength when you can use similar movements, also which can be performed with huge loads.

Also, the limits of the pull in a clean are greatly dependent on technique as well as strength, and I think it's more common for a clean to be missed on the pull due to technique mistakes than inadequate strength (e.g. bar drifting from the body and crashing into the rack, pulling the T-spine down)--the height to which the bar must be pulled is so minimal as is the distance the lifter must travel in the 3rd pull as compared to the snatch--even a lifter with a weak 2nd pull can rack a very heavy clean with an aggressive 3rd pull.

So - It's clear you believe I'm adamantly opposed to performing low bar back squats. I'm really not. I'm open to experimenting, but my experimentation would be 1) during a basic strength cycle, not anywhere near compettion; and 2) to try to improve the front squat strength, not that of the clean pull.

If pulling strength is the problem, not front squatting strength, I would be inclined to take out the back squats of our imaginary program all together and replace them with pulls and deads instead of simply switching to a low bar back squat.

Mark Rippetoe 03-05-2007 11:16 PM

I am not more concerned with pulling strength, front squatting strength, or any specific aspect of either of the two lifts. I advocate the low-bar squat because it enables the lifter to handle bigger weights over a big range of motion, thus producing more OVERALL strength. It just so happens that it is also more specific to all the technical aspects of the lifts than the high-bar squat. It's not that I like low-bar so much, it's just that high-bar doesn't work as well, and I'd like to hear why you think they do.

I also advocate heavy deadlifts once every 2 weeks for Olympic lifters. Everybody thinks that's stupid too, apparently because it will mess up their delicate little clean pull. The stronger you are in a general sense, the easier it is to express good technique and the less sensitive any individual lift will be to a technical error. But you can have the best technique in North America, and if your low-bar squat is only 300 lbs. at 85 kg., you're just not strong enough. Yeah, you can use a high bar squat, but you'll get stronger faster with the bar lower on your back, and since it applies better to the lifts, why not do them this way? You can low-bar harder, heavier, and more often because it's easier on the back and knees, and therefore allows the lift to be trained harder. In none of the discussions on this topic has anyone made a case for doing them the other way. The only argument so far has been that they're more like front squats, which we're ALREADY DOING!! Instead of me justifying the low-bar position, I'd like for somebody to actually make a case for the status quo.

My point really is that OL guys are not usually as strong as they need to be, and operate under the assumption that there is such a thing as "strong enough". If low bar squats help get you stronger than high-bar squats, do them. General strength increases have historically been useful to weightlifters. That's what anabolic steroids do too, and I remember a day when people used to take them without fear of getting too strong.

Larry Lindenman 03-06-2007 06:21 AM

Great discussion, I usually like to step out of the way during these, but I just read an interesting article by Glenn Pendlay and he argues, at the elite level, strength in Olympic Lifting is not the issue, technique is. Apparently the Europeans believe we focus too much on strength and not enough on technique work. See the Blog entry: Strength at the OTC: [url=http://glennpendlay.wordpress.com/]http://glennpendlay.wordpress.com/[/url] (work and family safe). Love to have Glenn jump in with his opinions. Granted this is at the elite level, where none (or few) of us are.

Guest2 03-06-2007 08:56 AM

I thought I had made an argument for high bar BS. I'll try again:

1. My intent in back squatting squatting for the O-lifts is very simple - to allow slightly greater squatting load while changing the movement as little as possible relative to the FS in order to drive strength improvements in the FS/clean rising portion.

2. The reason I would rather use a high bar BS over a low bar BS is also simple - the reason the low bar BS can be performed with more weight is not that that bar placement somehow magically makes your muscles immediately stronger - it simply changes the movement to allow greater contribution of the posterior chain, thereby increasing the overall possible force production. But the moment you return to a FS/clean, that posterior chain contribution is again reduced significantly, so the loading will drop accordingly.

3. Even in consideration of #2, I recognize that loading the quads with greater weight by allowing more PC involvement will help stimulate quad strength that will transfer to the more upright FS/clean. However, as I've now said numerous times, I'm not yet convinced that the carryover specific to the FS/clean will be any greater than that achieved by the high bar BS, which can load the legs more than the FS but to a lesser degree than the low bar BS, but whose movement is far more similar and therefore will transfer more of the developed strength to the FS/clean. In other words, I believe that the high bar BS's overload will ultimately produce greater strength gains in the FS/clean than the low bar squat can, even though the low bar BS will allow a lifter to handle a greater absolute load.

Hope that's more clear than my previous.

Regarding deadlifts, I don't think that's stupid at all, and neither does everyone else. There are certainly fewer OL than PL coaches who deadlift, but there are plenty.



As far as the strength/tech argument, it's simple: it requires both. Neither will make up for a lack of the other, and improvement in one will not improve the other. I can teach a 12 y/o girl to perform a technically perfect snatch with an empty bar, but that doesn't mean she can snatch double bodyweight. Likewise, a PLer who can deadlift 700 lbs but never trains the clean probably can't clean 400.

I would never argue that OLers are strong enough. No one can be strong enough in a strength sport - that's the whole point. However, unlike PLing, OLing is not purely a strength sport--it's a power sport, and that implies speed, which implies technical precision. A coach or athlete can't focus on strength improvement to the detriment of technique. There are plenty of examples in the sport of athletes who squat less cleaning more than athletes who squat more--it's not that the squatting strength is irrelevant, it's just that the second athlete's squatting strength has far exceeded his technical ability. In that case, it's clear to me that the programming needs to back off the strength in order to focus more on technique to close that gap.

And that's again why I prefer the high bar BS to the low bar - unloading the legs in order to pull in more back and PC when rising from a squat is a common tendency for relatively weak- or long-legged lifters, but is invariably disastrous with significant loading in a FS or OHS. So I would be concerned in novice or intermediate lifters with training a movement pattern in the squat that is doing exactly what I don't want them to do in the two variations of the squat that most closely resemble parts of the contested lifts.



Oh and MOD RE OHS - Since the possible loading of an OHS will never exceed that of the FS or BS, the OHS can't be used to improve leg strength. Its purpose is developing overhead strength and stability.

Veronica Carpenter 03-06-2007 01:31 PM

[i]What I'm saying is that the hip/back position in the clean vs. the low-bar squat is the same. Look at the back angle of the clean AS IT LEAVES THE FLOOR and compare that with the back angle in the low-bar squat, and you will find that the low-bar squat is more similar to the pull than the high-bar squat. Look at the video, don't just assume, because you're not pulling from the position you think you are. [/i]

Mark, you may be correct in saying that the back position is the same in the low bar squat as the clean pull off the floor. The difference lies in where the weight is. While leg strength in the lowbar may transfer to leg strength in the clean pull, I doubt it will transfer to strength in the clean pull since you won't be engaging the muscles in the upper back the in the way needed for the clean pull.

I'd agree with Greg E as far as using pulls and deads to improve your clean pull. However, there is nothing wrong with implementing all types of squatting to improve your leg strength (with the exception of the above parallel non-squat :msn-wink:)

Guest2 03-06-2007 01:55 PM

"the above parallel non-squat"

i think that is the new official name for the movement. awesome.

Mark Rippetoe 03-06-2007 03:59 PM

This is headed in the right direction:

"3. Even in consideration of #2, I recognize that loading the quads with greater weight by allowing more PC involvement will help stimulate quad strength that will transfer to the more upright FS/clean. However, as I've now said numerous times, I'm not yet convinced that the carryover specific to the FS/clean will be any greater than that achieved by the high bar BS, which can load the legs more than the FS but to a lesser degree than the low bar BS, but whose movement is far more similar and therefore will transfer more of the developed strength to the FS/clean. In other words, I believe that the high bar BS's overload will ultimately produce greater strength gains in the FS/clean than the low bar squat can, even though the low bar BS will allow a lifter to handle a greater absolute load. "

It relates to this point:

"I can teach a 12 y/o girl to perform a technically perfect snatch with an empty bar, but that doesn't mean she can snatch double bodyweight. Likewise, a PLer who can deadlift 700 lbs but never trains the clean probably can't clean 400. "

I don't know that this is true, at all. Lots of PLers that don't know how to clean can very likely power clean 400 lbs., and I've seen it done several times. And this is my point. The stronger the lifter, the less critical technique is. I maintain that a very strong low-bar squat, especially in an already-technically proficient OLer will make a better contribution to the lifts than a high-bar. Your point about quad transfer is part of it, but it has more to do with the dis-inhibition that getting used to very heavy weights provides. Steroids do this too, and we know they work quite well.

Further: "There are plenty of examples in the sport of athletes who squat less cleaning more than athletes who squat more--it's not that the squatting strength is irrelevant, it's just that the second athlete's squatting strength has far exceeded his technical ability. In that case, it's clear to me that the programming needs to back off the strength in order to focus more on technique to close that gap."

A lifter who is very efficient in terms of converting squat strength to clean, i.e. cleaning weights very close to his squat, can benefit his clean by increasing his squat, and this is obviously about the only way he can. On the other hand, a lifter who is less efficient has two ways to improve: he can improve his technique, IF it is in need of improvement, or he can increase his squat, because if he is only cleaning 60% of his squat, his clean will go up if he improves his squat because the ratio will stay approximately the same. In fact, for lifters that are not genetically as explosive as one might want them to be, a raw strength improvement might be the only way to increase the clean. His ability to convert strong to powerful is limited by his neuromuscular endowment, which is not terribly trainable and has certainly already been trained if he is doing the SN/CJ competitively.

" So I would be concerned in novice or intermediate lifters with training a movement pattern in the squat that is doing exactly what I don't want them to do in the two variations of the squat that most closely resemble parts of the contested lifts. "

One reason I don't like my novices to squat clean is because I don't want their back squat polluted with front squat stuff until they can separate the two motor pathways. So I understand this point, but I have great faith in the ability of even moderately experienced Olympic weightlifters to keep the front squat in an upright position out of the bottom. The two movements are sufficiently different in terms of motor pathway that post-novice folks have little problems identifying which to use after the weight is racked on the shoulders when it is cleaned.


Rip

Guest2 03-06-2007 04:16 PM

All good and interesting points, Mr. Rippetoe.

Tell you what - I will volunteer as a guinea pig. My next training cycle will be more basic strength-oriented (e.g. lots of heavy squatting, deadlifting, pressing, etc.), so I'll give the low bar BS a run in that cycle and let you know how it goes.

Tom Corrigan 03-06-2007 06:18 PM

Rip,

what are your ideas/experience on using "partials" as a supplemental lifting technique. I know that Paul Anderson and John Grimik did a lot of them in their training, and they both won Gold's when the US was a respected OL nation. The Jerk's first dip is a very quick "non-parallel" front squat. A quarter squat at best. I've seen videos of Rezazadeh doing FS triples with 100#+ more than he can squat clean. Maybe the same overload principle could be (re)used for strength gains.

What are your thoughts on Bill Starr's aticle in MILO a while ago that American OL lifters need to get stronger to win, not just get better technique-wise. Seems to be a lot of truth to what he was argueing. When I see US lifters, they seem to have very good/excellent technique (as a whole). Their technique is a strong point, and I see Starr's point that US lifters should focus on their "weakness", which is their weakness, in his opinion.

Great thread, BTW. Great points and observations,

Tom

p.s. since Starr was one of your mentor's, I would bet you'd be in agreement with him, but I just wanted to ask...

Mark Rippetoe 03-06-2007 07:01 PM

Deal, Greg. We'll talk.

Tom:
"I've seen videos of Rezazadeh doing FS triples with 100#+ more than he can squat clean. Maybe the same overload principle could be (re)used for strength gains."

Full ROM front squats? Yes, he's very strong. Maybe that's part of the reason why they beat us. I feel as though it's the main reason.

As far as Starr's article, I haven't read it, but we've talked about it numerous times, and he knows what happened to US Oly lifting during our fall from prominence as well as any human on the planet. Hell, he raised me, and taught me most of what I know. The conclusion is inescapable, and to claim that American lifters spend too much time on strength and not enough on technique reflects a failure to appreciate the vast differences between us and them, and our program and theirs. They have very strong people doing Olympic weightlifting, and we have a few people that want to be Olympic lifters. Two different systems generating athletes to their respective elite levels will inevitably produce two different levels of elite.

Rip

Dale F. Saran 03-06-2007 07:45 PM

I am an absolute boot at Oly Lifting (ask Greg, he's seen me - I suck), but find this discussion fascinating. But I'm trying to understand [i]exactly[/i] where the bar would be in the low bar BS. I just looked up some pics on google, and it seems to be just below the back end of the trapezius (at least on my gnomish frame). Is this correct? And if so, does this mean doing the BS in this position requires slightly more (to maybe much more) forward lean throughout the full range of motion? If this is an utterly newbie question, I apologize in advance.

Guest2 03-06-2007 08:26 PM

"I am an absolute boot at Oly Lifting (ask Greg, he's seen me - I suck)"

you're just new to it. you're strong as [color=ff0000][/color][color=ff0000][/color][color=ff0000][/color][color=ff0000][/color]. give it time, grasshopper.

actually dale is a great example of a dude who has loads of brute strength but whose o-lifting technique has yet to catch up. when it does, he's going to be snatching twice as much as my lame [color=ff0000][/color][color=ff0000][/color][color=ff0000][/color].

"seems to be just below the back end of the trapezius"

pretty much. first, buy rippetoe's book Starting Strength. And read it. For now, check this out:

[url=http://www.****************.com/images/squatposter.jpg]http://www.****************.com/images/squatposter.jpg[/url]

David Aguasca 03-06-2007 08:57 PM

this is possibly the most interesting discussion i've read in a long, long time.

thanks, greg and rip for freely giving us your thoughts on the matter!

Mark Rippetoe 03-06-2007 09:18 PM

Just saw this above by Larry: "Great discussion, I usually like to step out of the way during these, but I just read an interesting article by Glenn Pendlay and he argues, at the elite level, strength in Olympic Lifting is not the issue, technique is. Apparently the Europeans believe we focus too much on strength and not enough on technique work."

I suppose this would mean that Casey B. is just as strong as Rezazedeh, but that that his technique is not as good. I doubt very much that this is true.

Veronica Carpenter 03-06-2007 09:37 PM

Very true, Mark. I think we lag behind the Europeans in good doctors that know how to cycle the "supplements"

Larry Lindenman 03-07-2007 05:49 AM

Veronica, I was thinking the same thing!!!

Steve Serrano 03-07-2007 05:28 PM

I think I just got 2.5 units of CE credit somewhere for reading these posts. Thanks folks; great stuff.

Lincoln Brigham 03-07-2007 07:05 PM

I have great faith in the ablity of US coaches to [i]teach[/i] athletes the lifts. I have much less faith in their ability to [i]recruit[/i] for weightlifting. Almost all of those top 1% athletes go to other sports.

Anthony Myers 03-07-2007 07:54 PM

you go where the money is Lincoln

I'm amazed my question has come to this...
Everett and Rip battling it out!

Thanks for letting us in on the discussion guys.

I'm glad Coach Rip is on my side :banana:
Posterior chain strength for the win!

Gabe Rinaldi 03-08-2007 11:00 PM

Nice thread! I just read the whole thing right now. To summarize (mostly to make sure I understand the points):

Rip

low bar back squat for all squats as it leads to better overall strength and positions are the same as the pull off the ground

already doing front squats to develop strength to come out of the front squat portion of cleans

strength is a limiting factor for many U.S. OWLers

Greg

high bar back squat is more similar to squat position coming out of clean - and allows for more weight than front squats so it is a good variation

do clean and snatch pulls to develop pulling strength if needed

OWL performance is limited by technique and strength, but simply adding strength may not improve competitive performance

My thoughts after reading this discussion:

Looking at research on barbell trajectories during the Olympic lifts as broken down by different countries and genders we see that the U.S. does not typically have what many weightlifting (meaning OWL) coaches consider optimal technique. The rationale is that we have less practice as it is less popular in the U.S.

Watching numerous Ironmind training hall video tapes of elite lifters from all over the world I don't recall any of them performing low bar back squats in training. If they performed back squats it was always high bar style.

Whenever I've heard this arguement before it has always been a powerlifter (or coach who spent most of his time powerlifting) suggesting OWLers do low bar squats. I heard Louie Simmons at a seminar with Dr. Siff around 2001 (give or take a year) in Las Vegas and they had the exact same argument (academic debate). Louie was basically saying the same thing as Rip and Siff was saying the same thing as Greg. This is meant as no disrespect on either side - I just find it interesting.

I believe both methods can produce results - even very elite results. My personal opinion is that a given style may be more beneficial for a given lifter at a given phase in their training. However, in most cases, I'll train an OWL using high bar squats.

For what it's worth, I'm weaker than both Rip and Greg and since I'm training for a singlespeed mountain bike race in about a month I've only squatted a few times in the last few months. One day I did low bar box squats and the other day I did high bar squats.

Cheers,
Gabe

Mark Rippetoe 03-09-2007 01:13 PM

Gabe: This is a valid observation: "Looking at research on barbell trajectories during the Olympic lifts as broken down by different countries and genders we see that the U.S. does not typically have what many weightlifting (meaning OWL) coaches consider optimal technique. The rationale is that we have less practice as it is less popular in the U.S."

But it ignores the fact that a very important aspect of correct technique is being strong enough to efficiently display it, since getting into the correct positions to execute that technique requires the strength to do so and to hold the position while the technique is executed. This is how isometric and slow concentric strength are relevant to any technically-dependent explosive sport. Arguing that US lifters have less-proficient technique than the countries that regularly beat the hell out of us is a secondary observation, since their lifters quite regularly pull our C&J weights off the floor on their 1st attempt snatches.

And this... :

"Watching numerous Ironmind training hall video tapes of elite lifters from all over the world I don't recall any of them performing low bar back squats in training. If they performed back squats it was always high bar style."

... is still an ad hominem argument, not an explanation of why high-bar squats are better than low-bar squats. I have not read Louie's position on this, and Dr. Siff is usually over my head -- and usually correct. These are just my observations, having coached both OL and PL people for many years. That having been said, I have the greatest respect for your experience and coaching ability. And to say that you are weaker than me is to blatantly admit that you don't know how pitifully weak I am right now.

Rip


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