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Old 11-10-2010, 09:26 AM   #1
Mike Abernethy
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Tall Guy Needs Help with Squats

Good Day All,

I have recently chugged the CrossFit kool-aid and am all about learning as much as I can and developing in my overall functional fitness. I live in an area where there is not an affiliate, and am therefore learning on my own at this point until I can get to a Level 1 cert class.

I have a few questions am in need of some serious advice when it comes to some of the core movements:

1. I am 6'3'' with long arms and legs so squats obviously suck for me. I have been working on my thoracic mobility and overall flexibility but it seems that I still tend to lean forward when I go below parallel. Does anyone have any advice on how to correct this, or if it is perfectly normal for someone of my height?

2. Along the same lines, due to my long arms my racked position sucks. Does anyone have any remedies for that?

3. Should I continue with the WODs despite not being very efficient in some of the core movements (i.e. overhead, front, and back squats), or should I put my focus on fixing those goats.

Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old 11-10-2010, 09:42 AM   #2
Brian Bedell
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Re: Tall Guy Needs Help with Squats

There's really an Exercise section for this, and Digital Coaching section, but:
1. Please don't blame your height on your inability to squat correctly. First buy Starting Strength and read it for how to do a proper squat, and/or read articles and videos in CFJ. Second, take a video and post in the aforementioned Digital Coaching section. We can't see from here what you are doing wrong.
2.Again, same here. But there are also 1000 threads on rack position help, this is a common issue, esp. among inflexible males. Search them. Your anthropometry may be a bigger issue here; or not. Also see mobilitywod.com.
3.You should do the wod's and work on those things as above mentioned, and as part of your warmup, and lightly on off days.

have fun
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Old 11-10-2010, 10:29 AM   #3
Renee Lee
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Re: Tall Guy Needs Help with Squats

It's not normal. I believe that long femurs are actually a benefit for squatting because of how the longer levers improve the force or something...my kinesiology isn't great, but that's the word on the street.

Your lack of flexibility IS normal, but not because you're tall. Try elevating your heels on some nickel or dime plates when squatting. It should help you stay upright.

get us a video, we can tell you what to work on/doing wrong and do the best you can on the wods, and like brian said, focus on your correcting your mobility weaknesses in your warmup
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Old 11-10-2010, 10:54 AM   #4
Christie Warner
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Re: Tall Guy Needs Help with Squats

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Abernethy View Post

1. I am 6'3'' with long arms and legs so squats obviously suck for me. I have been working on my thoracic mobility and overall flexibility but it seems that I still tend to lean forward when I go below parallel. Does anyone have any advice on how to correct this, or if it is perfectly normal for someone of my height?
If it were me, I'd work my front squat, *overhead squat*, and press along with the back squat for sure. These movements can help improve strength in your core and overall flexibility, especially in the back squat. Plus, the overhead squat when weighted really helps with proper form. When whoever I am working with has trouble with coming up on the toes in the squat, throwing a pvc pipe overhead instantly allows them to see how to properly squat down into position. Start with a small pvc pipe/broomless wooden stick and work your way up to a barbell. This site is great for form checking and they list virtually every exercise you can think of so you can have a good example of what these movements entail.
WFS http://performancemenu.com/exercises/index.php

Are you doing Low Bar Back Squat or High Bar/Oly? I'm no expert and I am assuming that you are attempting Low Bar, but just by the way you're describing it, you may have a hamstring strength issue, thus bailing on your hamstrings at the bottom of the squat and the way up. I would try a little wider stance than normal, which engages your butt and hamstrings more. Squeeze your butt and shove it up first on the way up from the hole while keeping your chest high. Make sure knees are pushing out as well.

I have to second Brian's comment. Have you heard of Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe? I think it should be your new friend. I would study that book and watch Youtube videos of Mark Rippetoe or whoever you like fixing squat form.

WFS this stretch may help you : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUKWnGcu5Ss
Focus on staying on your heels, keeping your chest high, and pushing your knees out with your elbows. Really get down there - butt to ankles.

Also, I would invest in some lifting shoes, such as the Rogue Do Wins. They really help with foot placement. I love mine and I can feel a difference when I put my "cushion-y" Oasics on versus the Do Wins. If you are wearing cushion-y tennis shoes, they tend to rock you forward.

Last edited by Christie Warner : 11-10-2010 at 11:07 AM. Reason: typos
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Old 11-11-2010, 08:37 AM   #5
Mike Abernethy
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Re: Tall Guy Needs Help with Squats

Awesome! Thank you guys for your help. I will get a video up as soon as I can so you can evaluate.

I've been hitting up Mobility WOD for a couple weeks now and have seen some dramatic gains in my flexibility.
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Old 11-11-2010, 12:29 PM   #6
Ian Strand
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Re: Tall Guy Needs Help with Squats

Quote:
Originally Posted by Renee Lee View Post
I believe that long femurs are actually a benefit for squatting because of how the longer levers improve the force or something...my kinesiology isn't great, but that's the word on the street.
The word on the street is wrong.
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Old 11-11-2010, 12:44 PM   #7
Jordan Derksen
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Re: Tall Guy Needs Help with Squats

Ya Renee, that's definitely not the case, whoever told you that is not tall. Having long femurs and torso means that we have a lot farther to go to get the weight up and it means we have to be that much more flexible just to be able to get into positions.

I'm 6'2" so I feel ya Mike. Keep hitting the WOD's. About 2 or 3 days a week though I would suggest working your squats on top of the workout. Keep hitting starretts mwod, i've been doing it since day 1 and all my squats are perfect form now. I'm not sure how long you've been CFing but if your pretty proficient already I'd suggest to start back squatting heavy (5x5, 3x5, 5x3, 7x1) at least once a week. Then add in a heavy front squat. Then add in a heavy overhead. You'll have to work up your capacity, and listen to your body cause you will hurt. But if you keep up your mobility work and take care of yourself you can keep injury away. I currently squat heavy 3 times a week at least, and I work C&J and Snatch work 3 times a week as I'm on the Oly team at my university, and this is all on top of the daily WOD which I hammer 5 or 6 days a week. Don't jump right into that cause it's a lot of volume, but adding consistent heavy squatting is good for everyone.

Also, drop the weight a little and go all the way down. CF prescription is breaking 90 but if you want to squat well get that hamstring on your calves at the bottom. Spending time in those positions is the only way to get better at them.

As far as front squat goes, just do it more. Being tall means that our grip has to be wider than other peoples meaning we have to be more flexible in our external rotation. My pinky is almost resting on the rings on a power bar in my C&J. Kelly has spoken a good amount on front rack stuff.

Good luck.
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Old 11-11-2010, 12:57 PM   #8
Kevin Shaughnessy
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Re: Tall Guy Needs Help with Squats

Renee, its like using a wrench, the longer it is the less force you need to use to overcome the resistance of the bolt.

OP, you dont make it very clear if your talking about forward lean in a front squat or back squat. In a back squat forward lean is normal, and different people will have different degrees of forward lean depending on their dimensions. Whats important is that the bar tracks over the mid foot throughout the movement. Make sure that happens, and you'll be well on your way to squatting correctly.

If its forward lean in a front squat, then no its not desirable and probably caused by poor thoracic strength or mobility, or poor wrist mobility, and I'm sure theres more.
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Old 11-11-2010, 01:24 PM   #9
Joshua Refenes
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Re: Tall Guy Needs Help with Squats

Mike,
I'm 6'4", and I don't think your problems are related to your height. I'm pretty sure it's 100% flexibility. The problems you are explaining are the same problems anyone has when starting out CrossFit, from my brother (6'8"), to my wife (5'4"). It's not that you're tall, it's just that CrossFit and most CrossFit trainers demand perfect form (as they should), and 99% of the population don't have adequate form when they start learning CrossFit movements.

I was first able to get very deep in my squats, but I do was doing that same "leaning" that you're describing. Just regular practice and self-discipline to make myself more upright in the squat was all it took. Same thing with the rack position. I had the hardest time getting my elbows up, and even now I can't hold a rack position with PVC, but I can easily do it with a little weight on the bar.

Don't get frustrated, it's just going to take practice and dedication to fix bad habits and to bend your body in ways that you might not have demanded it to in the past. Good luck!
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Old 11-11-2010, 02:58 PM   #10
Karen Hayes
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Re: Tall Guy Needs Help with Squats (safelinks)

Hi-
I am a 6 foot, 36inch long legged woman and I have found that it is 100% flexibility for me. I like to blame my height for my poor form on occasion but when I stretch and do the flexibility warm ups, it is so much easier.
Plus, I also think the lifting shoes will help. When I finally got them the difference was amazing.(I think partly the shoes helped and partly I truly believed they helped) The mind is a powerful tool!
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