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Old 10-30-2010, 10:57 AM   #1
Michael Loucas
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Form Critique Squat/Press/Power Clean

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wL2qZm68UYs

25/m/202lbs/5'11

Been crossfitting about a year and a half, but before that I just did normal weight lifting. I got some gains but nothing compared to what I got from crossfit, and now Starting Strength.

I've had many form issues since I started squatting (and deadlifting, but thats for next week) about 18 months ago with crossfit. I don't follow the main site, I'd alternate strength days and metcon days, and only squatted at most once a week. (but usually once every 9-10 days)

My legs have been lacking pretty severely in strength, and I think it really hurt my metcons so I decided to begin starting strength. When I started, my 5 rep squat was 245, now its up to 295, and I'm going for 300 on Sunday. (Also traded 4 lbs of bodyweight for 50 lbs on 5 rep squat. Fair trade in my opinion)

I never used a belt either until I started on this program. My lower back started bothering me (I had a bit of a butt wink). I've since worked on the butt wink issue and purchased a belt once my squat was at about 275x5. The pain has gotten SO much better, but it still bothers me a little bit on warmups. Since then I've been gaining pretty nicely, I can't wait to test my 1 rep max on all these lifts after I'm done with Starting Strength. Gonna probably stick with it until I stop making significant gains, then go back to Crossfit.

In the meantime, is there anything you guys could suggest for improvement on form for any of these lifts? Any kind of feedback (brutal or otherwise) is greatly appreciated.

Squat: 5-5-4 @ 295
Press: 5-5-4 @ 160
Power Clean: 3-3-3-3-3 @ 155 (I was at 205, but my form was lacking so I dropped the weight to work on it)

Last edited by Michael Loucas : 10-30-2010 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 10-30-2010, 11:36 AM   #2
Jakob Schmidt
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Re: Form Critique Squat/Press/Power Clean

Aight, let me hit you with what I see.

You mentioned that you were having lower back pain. I think that you could really reduce that (even without the use of a belt) if you switch up your squatting form. You now are using the high bar back squat, you should definitely switch up to the low bar, as Rippetoe prescribes. It will take a lot of strain off your lower back and probably help you to get heavier weights up. Not only that, but it will make it a lot easier to get below parallel, thus working ALL the muscles that should be worked, not biasing the quads or neglecting the adductors.

Your weights are definitely looking heavy, which is great. You need to get your clean form fixed though. I would drop all the way down to below 100 and really focusing on keeping your feet in the same place when you shrug the bar up. Not that it is bad to move your feet out a bit, but your moving them out really far... and you need to stop doing that set up in the beginning. Get your feet set, stop rolling the bar when you're about to lift. It's not gonna help you at all.

Your press isn't too bad. Just watch how far you push your back backward. Brace your back and abs before you lift. Everything stays strong, core, shoulders, etc..

Really work to fix the power clean though.
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Old 10-30-2010, 11:40 AM   #3
Michael Loucas
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Re: Form Critique Squat/Press/Power Clean

The only way I can really get into a good pulling position, is to start on my toes and flatten my feet, it gets my butt as low as possible while keeping my back straight. The only reason I roll is to get the bar closer to my chins once I flatten back onto my feet. Another issue I think I have is I'm a bit duck footed. Its not just for lifting, its how I walk too and I'm not sure if I can even fix that.

Yeah the main reason I dropped to 155 is because at the higher weights, my feet would be wide as hell and land all over the place. I'm still having a similar issue I guess, I actually put some electrical tape down around where I want my feet to be in my starting position and landing position. Its kind of hard to aim where to land when pulling weight. Perhaps a drop in weight will help.

Thanks for the feedback,

Mike

Last edited by Michael Loucas : 10-30-2010 at 11:42 AM.
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Old 10-30-2010, 11:42 AM   #4
Robert Callahan
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Re: Form Critique Squat/Press/Power Clean

a few comments.

1) if you are going to spend all that money on getting those nice bumpers, spend the small amount extra and get some lifting shoes. They will help your form on squats and PC a lot and I think help with your back issues and butt wink quite a bit.

2) you are high bar squatting but you said you are doing SS. Is this intentional? Your high bar squats look decent, and with some lifting shoes I think will be fine if that is what you are going for. If you are meaning to do Rip's style low bar squat then you need to move that bar down ~3-4 inches and work on your hip drive

3) Press you are way hyper extending your back. You need to clamp down your abs big time. I have a feeling though that it is due to shoulder mobility problems. Really work your dislocates and other shoulder stretches cause that hyper extension could lead to problems down the road.

4) PC, again get lifting shoes. You are jumping your feet way to wide, and you are not receiving the bar on your shoulders. Get those elbows all the way around immediately, right now you are catching it in your hands, then transitioning to your shoulders. Stop this habit before it gets further ingrained
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Old 10-30-2010, 12:11 PM   #5
Michael Loucas
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Re: Form Critique Squat/Press/Power Clean

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Originally Posted by Robert Callahan View Post
a few comments.

1) if you are going to spend all that money on getting those nice bumpers, spend the small amount extra and get some lifting shoes. They will help your form on squats and PC a lot and I think help with your back issues and butt wink quite a bit.

2) you are high bar squatting but you said you are doing SS. Is this intentional? Your high bar squats look decent, and with some lifting shoes I think will be fine if that is what you are going for. If you are meaning to do Rip's style low bar squat then you need to move that bar down ~3-4 inches and work on your hip drive

3) Press you are way hyper extending your back. You need to clamp down your abs big time. I have a feeling though that it is due to shoulder mobility problems. Really work your dislocates and other shoulder stretches cause that hyper extension could lead to problems down the road.

4) PC, again get lifting shoes. You are jumping your feet way to wide, and you are not receiving the bar on your shoulders. Get those elbows all the way around immediately, right now you are catching it in your hands, then transitioning to your shoulders. Stop this habit before it gets further ingrained
1) Haha, actually lifting shoes are next on my list. Like I stated I just bought the belt, so once I have some extra money I'm definitely looking into buying a pair of shoes. I had so many problems with econ bumpers from muscledriver that I decided to just spring for some decent ones from Rogue. Aren't lifting shoes mainly used for olympic lifts and front squats? I never really heard of anyone really back squatting with weight lifting shoes, though I could be wrong.

2) And yeah, I never really thought about it, I was going to probably switch to low bar squat if I started to stall with high bar. Maybe I'll make that transition sooner if it will help my form.

3) I didn't think I was really hyperextending my back too bad, maybe a little bit on my final reps, but I'll definitely look into tightening my core more to try to straighten. Breathing becomes tough when you're tightening with weight overhead.

4) Yeah as far as the power cleans, I think the problem with not receiving the bar on my shoulders has to do with the fact that the weight is too light. Normally with higher weight (Above 185 or so) my receiving position looks much better, just my feet land all over. I'm sure that once I fix my landing position and get back up to the weight I used to do that will look better.

Thanks for the input man,

Mike

Last edited by Michael Loucas : 10-30-2010 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 10-30-2010, 12:19 PM   #6
Jakob Schmidt
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Re: Form Critique Squat/Press/Power Clean

Duck footedness shouldn't cause that problem. I'm both flat footed and duck footed and I don't have a problem getting into the pulling position.

How flexible are you? I bet you that is more of the problem. Do you stretch much? Lack of stretching can also lead to lower back pain, so that could also explain some of your back pain if you don't stretch.

I'd definitely recommend switching to low bar, it's funny at first but, in my opinion, it's all around better.
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Old 10-30-2010, 12:23 PM   #7
Michael Loucas
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Re: Form Critique Squat/Press/Power Clean

Alright, I'll give low bar a shot on Sunday when I go for 300 squat. And yeah, flexibility is probably a huge issue as I don't stretch really.
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Old 10-30-2010, 12:28 PM   #8
Robert Callahan
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Re: Form Critique Squat/Press/Power Clean

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Loucas View Post
1) Haha, actually lifting shoes are next on my list. Like I stated I just bought the belt, so once I have some extra money I'm definitely looking into buying a pair of shoes. I had so many problems with econ bumpers from muscledriver that I decided to just spring for some decent ones from Rogue. Aren't lifting shoes mainly used for olympic lifts and front squats? I never really heard of anyone really back squatting with weight lifting shoes, though I could be wrong.

2) And yeah, I never really thought about it, I was going to probably switch to low bar squat if I started to stall with high bar. Maybe I'll make that transition sooner if it will help my form.

3) I didn't think I was really hyperextending my back too bad, maybe a little bit on my final reps, but I'll definitely look into tightening my core more to try to straighten. Breathing becomes tough when you're tightening with weight overhead.

4) Yeah as far as the power cleans, I think the problem with not receiving the bar on my shoulders has to do with the fact that the weight is too light. Normally with higher weight (Above 185 or so) my receiving position looks much better, just my feet land all over. I'm sure that once I fix my landing position and get back up to the weight I used to do that will look better.

Thanks for the input man,

Mike
Weightlifting shoes are for all kinds of squats, except sumo-stance powerlifting squats. There has been a ton of discussion on this, if you search around you can probably find some threads on it. I know I personally have posted numerous times on the topic

Transitioning from high bar to low bar is really not something you can just do trivially. While similar, the movement pattern is different enough that they require specific work to develop. If you were to switch to low bar you would have to drop weight and work back up developing the specific mechanics for that lift. So don't expect to just go from one to the other without problem.

And with press, I looks to me to be more of a shoulder flexibility thing than anything else. But make sure you are not pushing your abs out against the belt, you still want to be flexing them by pulling them in. If you push out against the belt it will feel great at the bottom, but with your arms overhead your waist narrows and the belt will get looser, this will cause a lot of instability if you are relying on the belt by pushing your abs out into it.
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Old 10-30-2010, 12:32 PM   #9
Michael Loucas
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Re: Form Critique Squat/Press/Power Clean

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Originally Posted by Robert Callahan View Post
And with press, I looks to me to be more of a shoulder flexibility thing than anything else. But make sure you are not pushing your abs out against the belt, you still want to be flexing them by pulling them in. If you push out against the belt it will feel great at the bottom, but with your arms overhead your waist narrows and the belt will get looser, this will cause a lot of instability if you are relying on the belt by pushing your abs out into it.
That is actually a very interesting point, I never really thought about that. I tighten the same way I do with squat, take a deep breath and flex my abs. I'll experiment.

Another note on press, what is the standard? Is the touch and go that I do ok? Keeps the momentum going similar to bench press, but its also harder to breath than resting at the bottom of each rep. Pressing every rep from dead stop though is also difficult.

As far as the squat, how much do you think I should reset if I transition to low bar?

As far as the shoulder flexibility issue, I have noticed my shoulders getting tighter with all the pressing/benching I've been doing on this program. About a week ago I started doing some shoulder dislocations, but perhaps that isn't enough.
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Old 10-30-2010, 12:33 PM   #10
Jakob Schmidt
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Re: Form Critique Squat/Press/Power Clean

Stretching is gonna help everything. Don't do it pre work out, do more active stretching (more of a warm up). Do it when you wake up and before you go to bed. And if things are sore, post workout.

Don't go really heavy right away with the low bar by the way. It takes a bit of time to get used to. But, it's worth it!
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