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Old 02-07-2008, 12:13 AM   #1
Shawn Hansen
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Help with OH squat form....

...or any OH exercise that requires bending at the knees.

Let me preface this by saying im not really looking for someone to hold my hand and tell me what to do. Ive been working out consistently for ~5 Years now, my weight has ranged between 220-297 lb. bf between 14-20. I consider my form to be better than average on just about most exercises. The problem is ive never done Oly lifts really. When i have to overhead squat, or as an example do dumbell snatches like in "Joshie", i cant seem to keep my balance to be able to bend my knees enough to squat. I practiced a lot since i was miserable at it, and as far as i can see, the problem im having is flexibility in my shoulders. I cant hold them up in the air and BEHIND my head. They just want to come forward, i couldnt even force it. This causes my center of gravity to fall forward, and thus im unable to complete the movements.

Has anyone else had this problem? Is it as simple as just finding some good shoulder stretches and doing them consistently until i have the range of motion? CF has humbled me in a big way, i dont mind having to use low weights, as long as im pushing myself. Im not competing with anyone else in the gym but me, but damn do i hate having to figure out alternative exercises.

Any help is appreciated, thanks in advance...

-Shawn
6'4" 220lb

p.s. Any tall lifters out there figure out a way to increase pull up strength relatively quickly? Im gettin stronger, but it just seems so slow for me. my legs are a dominant part of my body, so its a lot of dead weight haha. Wide grips are all but impossible for more than a few reps max (non kip).

EDIT: Regarding my form, at the bottom of my squats i have to lean forward a bit because of my height, or i will fall backward. This is why i cant keep the weight overhead. It puts my shoulders in a position where they have to almost be at a 30 degree or so angle behind my head in order to support the weight straight up and down.

Last edited by Shawn Hansen; 02-07-2008 at 12:17 AM.. Reason: clarification on current form....
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Old 02-07-2008, 06:03 AM   #2
Tom Brose
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Re: Help with OH squat form....

Shawn, sorry your height is not the issue. Individual physical structure and limb length/ ratios can affect squating, but there are plenty of tall athletes out there that can. Often ankle flexibility is the overlooked factor.

I suggest you video yourself doing a few light OHS, and post it here. We can see what you can work on.
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Old 02-07-2008, 08:30 AM   #3
Nicolas Kizzee
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Re: Help with OH squat form....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn Hansen View Post

p.s. Any tall lifters out there figure out a way to increase pull up strength relatively quickly? Im gettin stronger, but it just seems so slow for me. my legs are a dominant part of my body, so its a lot of dead weight haha. Wide grips are all but impossible for more than a few reps max (non kip).
Im in the same boat as you ... yet not as heavy.. (only 185lbs) the max amount of pull-ups i have gotten i believe are 7. I can't find any bar to kip on... i try but my feet drag the floor like none other. So i try to bend my knees to kip but thats stinking hard. I hope someone can help us out here hehe
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Old 02-08-2008, 01:15 AM   #4
Shawn Hansen
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Re: Help with OH squat form....

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Originally Posted by Tom Brose View Post
Shawn, sorry your height is not the issue. Individual physical structure and limb length/ ratios can affect squating, but there are plenty of tall athletes out there that can. Often ankle flexibility is the overlooked factor.

I suggest you video yourself doing a few light OHS, and post it here. We can see what you can work on.
I do have a minor problem with limited range of motion in my right ankle, from a MA injury a few years ago. The deeper i go the more my foot wants to turn outside. Im conscious of it and try to keep it under control though. I dont really know what to do about it as far as getting ROM back though.
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Old 02-08-2008, 01:16 AM   #5
Shawn Hansen
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Re: Help with OH squat form....

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Originally Posted by Nicolas Kizzee View Post
Im in the same boat as you ... yet not as heavy.. (only 185lbs) the max amount of pull-ups i have gotten i believe are 7. I can't find any bar to kip on... i try but my feet drag the floor like none other. So i try to bend my knees to kip but thats stinking hard. I hope someone can help us out here hehe
I havent even tried kipping yet for that reason, no bars at my gym that are high enough. All my pull ups are dead hang, until i cant do em anymore, then i move to the assisted machine. Which isnt very long haha.
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Old 02-08-2008, 06:04 AM   #6
Allen Yeh
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Re: Help with OH squat form....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn Hansen View Post
I do have a minor problem with limited range of motion in my right ankle, from a MA injury a few years ago. The deeper i go the more my foot wants to turn outside. Im conscious of it and try to keep it under control though. I dont really know what to do about it as far as getting ROM back though.
What ankle mobility exercises are you able to do?
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Old 02-10-2008, 06:49 PM   #7
Veronica Carpenter
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Re: Help with OH squat form....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn Hansen View Post
I do have a minor problem with limited range of motion in my right ankle, from a MA injury a few years ago. The deeper i go the more my foot wants to turn outside. Im conscious of it and try to keep it under control though. I dont really know what to do about it as far as getting ROM back though.
When your foot turns out which way does your knee go? Is there pain when your foot turns out? If there is no pain, as long as your knee is tracking in the same direction as your foot, you should be good to go.

IMO, you need to work on your shoulder/chest flexibility more. My hubby is no where near as tall as you, but when he first tried OHS's he couldn't do a broomstick without falling forward. He can now do 100lbs or so for reps with good depth and bar placement. It's takes dedication and a kick to the ego, but keep the weight low and keep working.
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Old 02-12-2008, 08:12 PM   #8
Shawn Hansen
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Re: Help with OH squat form....

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Originally Posted by Veronica Carpenter View Post
When your foot turns out which way does your knee go? Is there pain when your foot turns out? If there is no pain, as long as your knee is tracking in the same direction as your foot, you should be good to go.

IMO, you need to work on your shoulder/chest flexibility more. My hubby is no where near as tall as you, but when he first tried OHS's he couldn't do a broomstick without falling forward. He can now do 100lbs or so for reps with good depth and bar placement. It's takes dedication and a kick to the ego, but keep the weight low and keep working.
I always try to concentrate on keeping the knee tracking in the same direction as my foot. As i go down and hit my ROM limit for the ankle, i get pain in the top inside area of the ankle joint. The knee itself is hit and miss, sometimes it locks up on me (which scares the crap out of me and can be painful).

Its funny you mentioned the shoulder and chest flexibility. I went into the gym last night, even though it was a rest day (im addicted), and basically did a little rowing on the ConceptII (5k), and the rest of the time i just stretched my entire body. I took a broom stick and held it wide and OH, then i rotated my shoulders backwards until the stick was behind me. Then id pull it back in front of me again. I did this for about 5 minutes, and each time i would move my hands inward on the stick about half an inch to get a bit more of a stretch each time. It felt great and i think ill continue to do it. I definitely think the shoulder/chest flexibility is the biggest issue with my OH squat. Or lack thereof hehe. Im gonna go in and try to do Nate tonight, and when im done ill try to give the OH squat a try with the broomstick.

Also, i dont know if its because of my height or what, but i have to lean forward at the bottom of my squats OH or not. My femurs appear to be very long, so im thinking that may be why but i hate making excuses for not being able to do something. I just feel like if i were to straighten my back to be more perpendicular to the ground, id just fall backward.

Such a learning process, i hate being a noob all over again.....
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Old 02-12-2008, 08:13 PM   #9
Shawn Hansen
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Re: Help with OH squat form....

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Originally Posted by Allen Yeh View Post
What ankle mobility exercises are you able to do?
I dont even know any. I just rotate them a lot while im stretching my lower body. I havent been able to find any resources online that i trust enough on the matter.
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Old 02-12-2008, 08:20 PM   #10
Grant Scalf
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Re: Help with OH squat form....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn Hansen View Post
Also, i dont know if its because of my height or what, but i have to lean forward at the bottom of my squats OH or not. My femurs appear to be very long, so im thinking that may be why but i hate making excuses for not being able to do something. I just feel like if i were to straighten my back to be more perpendicular to the ground, id just fall backward.
Forward lean in a back squat is normal - it is even very important in order to reach full depth. Forward lean in an OHS is also the norm, but it comes with the problem of bringing the bar forward if you don't have proper chest and shoulder flexibility. Work on that flexibility with what you already spoke of AND just OHSing 3x15 with some light weight for every warm up. If you do this every day you work out your flexibility in shoulders, chest, and ankles will improve by leaps and bounds.
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