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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 01-20-2010, 06:02 PM   #1
John Koshy
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breathing and glutes on high bar ATG squats

Is it the same as for a low bar powerlifting squat? Take a huge breath into your stomach, flex your abs, and then proceed to squat?

And second question, are you supposed to squeeze your glutes at the bottom when you're in the hole? I've been talking to Brian Degenarro here, and some people at StrongLifts forums, and I think my issue is I'm unable to engage my quads at the bottom of an *** to grass squat. Whenever I'm in the hole, my hips/glutes lead out of the hole so I am leaning forward a bit, and then the quads start getting involved when I'm in a 3/4 or half squat position. Any ideas on how to rectify this? Should I squeeze my glutes at the bottom? Brian suggested that I point my elbows downwards, or even forwards (I realized that mine had been pointing backwards, which might've partially been the reason I kept leaning forward a lot initially), I'll keep trying this more.
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Old 01-20-2010, 08:19 PM   #2
Donald Lee
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Re: breathing and glutes on high bar ATG squats

It sounds like you've been low bar squatting for a while. Give it time. It can take up to a year or so sometimes to feel fully comfortable with the high bar Olympic squat.

Most likely, your problem is a combination of weaker quads relative to your hamstrings and an ingrained neural pattern (low bar-style). You're not used to the range of motion as well, which is why your quads don't seem to activate until you're higher up.

And, yes, you want to squeeze your glutes at the bottom of the squat.

If flexibility is an issue, you should work on that consistently. Problem areas with squatting ATG tend to be the hamstrings, glutes, adductors, and calves.

I suggest you do more front squats to help hypertrophy the necessary muscles and to ingrain the more upright squatting style. You can either do that on a separate day or use front squats as warm up sets to your back squatting.
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Old 01-20-2010, 11:36 PM   #3
John Koshy
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Re: breathing and glutes on high bar ATG squats

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Originally Posted by Donald Lee View Post
It sounds like you've been low bar squatting for a while. Give it time. It can take up to a year or so sometimes to feel fully comfortable with the high bar Olympic squat.

Most likely, your problem is a combination of weaker quads relative to your hamstrings and an ingrained neural pattern (low bar-style). You're not used to the range of motion as well, which is why your quads don't seem to activate until you're higher up.

And, yes, you want to squeeze your glutes at the bottom of the squat.

If flexibility is an issue, you should work on that consistently. Problem areas with squatting ATG tend to be the hamstrings, glutes, adductors, and calves.

I suggest you do more front squats to help hypertrophy the necessary muscles and to ingrain the more upright squatting style. You can either do that on a separate day or use front squats as warm up sets to your back squatting.
Yes, I used to low-bar squat for over a year or two. Also, I think some technique issues for high bar...like, when I do a 100% knee break, I tend to lean forward too much when I hit the bottom. But if I do a 100% hip break, then I also lean over...how do I balance the knee and hip break? Should I break my knees just a little, then break the hips, and then simultaneously keep the hips moving back and knees moving forward?
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Old 01-21-2010, 12:34 AM   #4
Donald Lee
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Re: breathing and glutes on high bar ATG squats

I'm not positive I get what you're asking, but I'll try my best to take a stab at answering your question.

Even with the high bar squat, your weight should be on your hips; however, with the low bar squat, you're sitting back into the squat; while with the high bar squat, you're sitting moreso inbetween your legs.

You need to stretch and/or play around with your feet position (wider or more turned out) until you obtain this rock bottom position with no rounding of the lower back.

This is a nice example video of high-bar squatting (WFS):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y8yK...eature=related

If you'd like specific stretching exercises, I'd be glad to give you some ideas.

Edit: Your knees will travel forward, but attempt to spread your legs on the way down moreso than moving them forward. You may need to exaggerate the spreading of the legs a bit until you get comfortable with it. If you find that you have trouble with that, you probably need to stretch your adductors, which you can do by pushing your knees apart with your elbows in the bottom of the squat position. Try to maintain as straight a back as possible while doing this.

Last edited by Donald Lee : 01-21-2010 at 12:38 AM.
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Old 01-21-2010, 10:17 AM   #5
John Koshy
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Re: breathing and glutes on high bar ATG squats

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Originally Posted by Donald Lee View Post
I'm not positive I get what you're asking, but I'll try my best to take a stab at answering your question.

Even with the high bar squat, your weight should be on your hips; however, with the low bar squat, you're sitting back into the squat; while with the high bar squat, you're sitting moreso inbetween your legs.

You need to stretch and/or play around with your feet position (wider or more turned out) until you obtain this rock bottom position with no rounding of the lower back.

This is a nice example video of high-bar squatting (WFS):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y8yK...eature=related

If you'd like specific stretching exercises, I'd be glad to give you some ideas.

Edit: Your knees will travel forward, but attempt to spread your legs on the way down moreso than moving them forward. You may need to exaggerate the spreading of the legs a bit until you get comfortable with it. If you find that you have trouble with that, you probably need to stretch your adductors, which you can do by pushing your knees apart with your elbows in the bottom of the squat position. Try to maintain as straight a back as possible while doing this.
Haha yeah, I've seen that video a ton of times lol. What stretching exercises do you recommend? Fire away.

And I can hit rock bottom without a rounded back, my problem is leaning forward too much, depending on whether I do a 100% knee break or sit back like a low bar (both of which I realize now are wrong technique)
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Old 01-21-2010, 02:19 PM   #6
Donald Lee
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Re: breathing and glutes on high bar ATG squats

I'm not sure what you mean by 100% knee break.

If you can achieve the rock bottom position without rounding your back, then you most likely half enough flexibility in your glutes, hamstrings, and possibly adductors. Since you're still leaning over, it could be that you don't have adequate ankle flexibility.

Try doing the stretches in this article:

http://sanfranciscocrossfit.blogspot...tight-bro.html (WFS)

The straight leg stretch isn't as useful for squatting, since it's stretching the gastrocnemius moreso than the soleus.

Once you get good at that stretch, you can just do a few seconds of that before squatting. I do that stretch PNF style for about 5-10 seconds.

Then, with your OLY shoes on, get in the bottom position of the squat, and lean on one knee at a time to try to stretch your soleus. This will allow your knees to travel forward more at the bottom of the squat, which'll allow for a more upright position.

Even if your ankles aren't the problem, it's a good stretch to do before squatting.

If you still can't stop leaning over, then you probably need to widen your stance and rotate your feet outward a bit more. Remember, you need to be sitting inbetween your legs. If this creates adductor issues, do the adductor stretch I wrote about above.

I do the following to warm-up in general:

1. Joint mobility work (neck, wrists, elbows, shoulders, ankles, knees, hips)
2. Cat stretch to loosen up the lower back
3. Hip flexor stretch to help open up the hips (I do 2 and 3 before doing joint mobility work for the hips)
4. General Warm-up (Jump roping to elevate the heartrate, etc.)
5. Dynamic Warm-up (Stuff for upper body rotated with leg swings)

Then, I do my specific warm-up for squatting (Put on OLY shoes):

6. External rotator stretch with a stick so I don't get elbow/shoulder pain
7. RDL stretch with 45# bar (I can't get a comfortable rock bottom position without it. I tend to lean over and can't go all the way down. I do a few reps, while holding the bottom position for a little bit (1-3 sec), until I get adequate ROM).
8. The calf stretch in the San Francisco CrossFit blog link.
9. Get in the bottom of the squat position and lean one knee at a time.
10. Then, do the adductor stretch while still in the squat position.
11. Get up and shake it off...or not...not sure exactly what I do. Then, get into the bottom squat position again, and rotate one knee at a time to get some mobility in that position.

That's about it. If doing some of the stuff in there doesn't help, try posting a video. Also, like Brian DeGennaro said, don't try to point your elbows back. Remember, you need to drive your chest up. You don't even need to think too much about your hips on the way up.

Like in the video posted, your knees may cave in on the way up, but they should be spread on the way down. Focus on that.
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Old 01-22-2010, 10:28 AM   #7
John Koshy
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Re: breathing and glutes on high bar ATG squats

Ok gold mine guys... a buddy of mine happened to be at the gym today who had a Blackberry that can take video (my iphone doesnt) and I recorded myself doing 225x2 (my normal workset is 250....225 felt kind hard today - considering that I went in without eating anything right now in the morning and I felt weak as ****...I couldn't even do my normal shoulder press set, and I got ****ed off, skipped doing cleans, did farmer walks and left lol). Regardless of the no-eating-fatigue, this is the kind of form breakdown that does occur on heavier sets (see how I come out of the hole?).

Is this really bad form or what?

(WFS) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVpaBZXGsus

Edit: my friend watching me said I should probably do a lot of core work. I think I agree...actually, I'm just ****ing lost. The low bar to high bar transition has been a ***** lol. let me know what you guys think.
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Old 01-22-2010, 10:48 AM   #8
Donald Lee
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Re: breathing and glutes on high bar ATG squats

Damn...you have long legs. Squatting is not made for you.

Your form doesn't look bad at all. You just need to wait for the quad strength and possibly the glute strength to come up. Front squats should take care of core strength for the back squat.

Also, I can't tell exactly how wide your feet placement is, but I think you could widen it a bit and lessen the turning out a bit so that your toes will be in about the same spot, but the heels will come out a bit more.
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Old 01-22-2010, 10:56 AM   #9
John Koshy
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Re: breathing and glutes on high bar ATG squats

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Originally Posted by Donald Lee View Post
Damn...you have long legs. Squatting is not made for you.

Your form doesn't look bad at all. You just need to wait for the quad strength and possibly the glute strength to come up. Front squats should take care of core strength for the back squat.

Also, I can't tell exactly how wide your feet placement is, but I think you could widen it a bit and lessen the turning out a bit so that your toes will be in about the same spot, but the heels will come out a bit more.
Yup, I'm 6'2 and long *** legs. And arms (6'8 armspan). I'm built to deadlift, not squat or press lol.

And if i'm doing Rippetoe's 3x5, to get quad strength up, should I just do 3x5 front squats on Wednesdays instead of back squats?
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Old 01-22-2010, 02:11 PM   #10
Donald Lee
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Re: breathing and glutes on high bar ATG squats

Yeah, that'd probably be a good idea. You can also use front squats in your warmups, but since you're not a rank beginner, back squatting 3 times per week may not last very long.
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