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  • Squat form critique

    Second workout back to trying to add squats after injuring my low back about a year ago when my squat form went to hell - rounded back... bad news.

    Anyway - I shot 3 videos today of 2 warmup sets and what was supposed to be a set of 6 of squats to a 12" box. I want to get some input on how my form looks, and what I need to work on.

    My thought process when doing a squat is this: Shoulders back, chest up, "spread the floor" to engage the glutes/hips, start movement by breaking at the hips and sitting back/down... I think this part is pretty clear to see at the start of the sets, I seem to lose something after the first rep on the drive up though and I'm having trouble pinpointing what I'm doing wrong.

    [YOUTUBE]RRl4ZLchDcA[/YOUTUBE] - warmup 1

    [YOUTUBE]4vJJC34nDn8[/YOUTUBE] - warmup 2

    [YOUTUBE]HEUOYMiBq34[/YOUTUBE] - attempted work set - knee wrap popped off on first rep... so I only got 2 good reps because it threw me off...
    Last edited by PTAaron; 01-06-2012, 12:30 PM.

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  • #2
    I think it looks crisp as hell and super text book dude. After watching it a few times something that started looking funny, which I am not 100% sure if it makes sense or not, is that it kind of looks like your power is coming from your knees instead of your hips. It looks like you lock the weight out by locking your knees then finishing your hips. I always thought you were supposed to bring the hips forward and as the hips finish the knees finish at the same time. I dont know if this makes any sense though so take it with a grain of salt.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfNlx...eature=related

    they slow motion on his hips

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjBOlg4w7JY

    check that out too

    edit: by power coming from the knees, thats not what I mean. I mean your hips don't look like they are driving through as hard as your knees are locking out. Your definitly starting the lift with your hips, but then they kind of go up instead of forward, if that makes any sense. keep in mind your probably way more advanced than I am lol.

    2nd edit: watched a few more times. watch closely and use the saftey bar as a reference point. Your ass travels straight up at a constant speed. Once it gets to the saftey pin, it slows down as you try to drive your hips forward.

    3rd edit: compare the last rep of your last set with your warm up sets in the first videos. In the first videos your hip drive on the way up starts before you ass even gets to the saftey pins. By the last rep of the last video, your hip drive is starting to come into effect like 8 inchs higher.

    I don't know what that means, just an observation. lol
    Last edited by syssstem; 01-06-2012, 12:49 PM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by syssstem View Post
      I think it looks crisp as hell and super text book dude. After watching it a few times something that started looking funny, which I am not 100% sure if it makes sense or not, is that it kind of looks like your power is coming from your knees instead of your hips. It looks like you lock the weight out by locking your knees then finishing your hips. I always thought you were supposed to bring the hips forward and as the hips finish the knees finish at the same time. I dont know if this makes any sense though so take it with a grain of salt.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfNlx...eature=related

      they slow motion on his hips

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjBOlg4w7JY

      check that out too

      edit: by power coming from the knees, thats not what I mean. I mean your hips don't look like they are driving through as hard as your knees are locking out. Your definitly starting the lift with your hips, but then they kind of go up instead of forward, if that makes any sense. keep in mind your probably way more advanced than I am lol.

      2nd edit: watched a few more times. watch closely and use the saftey bar as a reference point. Your ass travels straight up at a constant speed. Once it gets to the saftey pin, it slows down as you try to drive your hips forward.

      3rd edit: compare the last rep of your last set with your warm up sets in the first videos. In the first videos your hip drive on the way up starts before you ass even gets to the saftey pins. By the last rep of the last video, your hip drive is starting to come into effect like 8 inchs higher.

      I don't know what that means, just an observation. lol
      Thanks for the observations... "advanced" or not, I suck at squatting and I appreciate the feedback . That is what it feels like to me when I'm doing it - like my quads are overpowering the movement, which leads to me kind of "folding" as I get fatigued.

      I am pretty sure that 10 years of doing "knee twitch" squats when I started out are to blame for the hips not working right.

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      • #4
        to much weight on the balls of your feet. make sure you have at least 60% of your body weight on your heels. sit back further will help with this. since you doing box squats you may as well sit all the way back and sit down completely. this will help you with free squats when yo start doing them.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by exmgq View Post
          to much weight on the balls of your feet. make sure you have at least 60% of your body weight on your heels. sit back further will help with this. since you doing box squats you may as well sit all the way back and sit down completely. this will help you with free squats when yo start doing them.
          if your going to be sitting back and sitting down completely, I would recommend you do a higher box to start. 12 inch's is pretty low man, especially because your a pretty tall guy. Start with like 15, or even 18, and once you can get your hips working properly then start going lower.

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          • #6
            Yeah - I had thought about coming to a complete stop on the box but I was concerned about loading my spine that much in sitting. I might give it a try next time squats come up - just to see how it feels.

            I always think I am putting my weight onto my heels, but I must not be. I wear completely flat basketball shoes usually - but I've been considering starting to squat barefoot...

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            • #7
              Aaron,

              Two things, first you seem to be unlocking the knees first. Start by unlocking the hips first. Besides that the form wasn't bad.


              Next I had a question, was the second video a warm up also? If so why were you wrapping your knees? Are they that bad? If you are coming back from an injury and your knees are healthy enough to squat you might want to limit your wraps to heavy work sets. By doing so you will give your joints a little more of a reason to get stronger, and you when you put the wraps on for your heavier sets you'll have a nice psychological boost.

              Also if your training for bodybuilding, unless you have knee problems you might want to deep 6 the knee wraps all together and try to feel the movement more instead of just moving heavy weight. In the short term you'll probably see more growth, and in the long term you'll give your joints a chance to catch up with your muscles. That being said there can be a point where wraps are necessary. When I squatted in my offseason I got up to 500 and you can bet I wore some wraps, but this is the exception more than the rule and this was more power/max strength training rather than hypertrophy training.

              If you are powerlifting you might want to cycle the use of the wraps. For instance one workout use no wraps, the next workout use old wraps loose, then next workout old wraps tight, then next workout new wraps loose, and finally use new wraps tight.

              Finally, make sure you have someone knowledgeable that knows how to wrap. I recently got a pair of wraps sent to me, but unknown to me the pair was only one wrap, so I did something stupid. I cut it in half and made due even though it wasn't long enough to properly use as a wrap. My knee was sore for a couple days after this, but luckily I didn't cause any long term damage, but stuff like this adds up. I just went back to squats without the wraps, with the same weight and my knees felt like a million bucks. The point is they may not always be necessary or something you should be using. Like most things they can be a useful tool, but over used they can be a crutch. Good luck.
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              • #8
                Thanks Doberman, I will keep that in mind for sure. It is like the weight on the back of the foot - I thought I was starting at the hips on the way down.

                For the second set I don't have wraps on, only for the set that was intended to be the "work set".

                I only use wraps on my "heavy" set, never during the warmup. Actually I usually wouldn't even have used them with the weight I was doing today - I don't know why I did. If I hadn't put them on to begin with, I probably would have had no trouble getting my 6 reps on my "work set" - but one knee wrapped and the other not was really throwing me off... as you can see from me not even getting full depth on the 3rd rep.
                My knees aren't great - but they aren't a limiting factor in my leg workouts (knock on wood). I happened to buy these damn APT wraps with velcro on them that are too short - that's why it popped off. I keep planning to order a longer set without velcro, but its been about 6 years - maybe I should actually do it finally.
                Back in 1995 I had a guy that was (so he said) a high level powerlifter teach me how to use knee wraps properly - and his instruction matches pretty well with what I've seen/heard from others with a lot of experience. Of course back then I was doing "knee twitch" squats and thinking I was a badass at 6'1" and 180lbs... if I had actually listened to the rest of what he was teaching me I would have no trouble with my squat, and we wouldn't be having this conversation

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                • #9
                  IMO, everything from the waist up looks great. One thing I can see from that angle is that (esp in warmup #2) you seem to be not driving through your heels, letting your knees creep up past your toes. You need your setup to allow you to not put so much weight on your toes. Maybe try a tad wider stance, and maybe point the toes out just a litttttttttttle bit? OR, maybe set the bar just a bit lower on your traps.

                  That's the only thing I could catch other than what some others have said. But it looks pretty damn solid to me.

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                  • #10
                    Thanks Lock!

                    Sounds like the consensus is that I need to keep my weight back on my heels more.

                    I appreciate the feedback from everyone. I should have done a video a long time ago... It always FEELS like you've got it right, but the video shows different.

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                    Feel free to PM me with injury questions - I'll get back to you soon as I can.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by exmgq View Post
                      to much weight on the balls of your feet. make sure you have at least 60% of your body weight on your heels. sit back further will help with this. since you doing box squats you may as well sit all the way back and sit down completely. this will help you with free squats when yo start doing them.
                      This has got me curious about one thing... If Aaron sits all the way back on the box, what would the pros and cons of doing that with the stance he must have used (I guess it must have been a medium-to-wide one for those sets), as opposed to using the extra wide stance recommended for box squats on the video below?

                      [YOUTUBE]e9HloHClt2Q[/YOUTUBE]

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                      • #12
                        Is there a reason you're not squatting to rock bottom where the hams cover the calves?

                        I would place full RoM number one priority if there is a history of lumbar injury due to greater potential leg stress with less total load on the bar (assuming you're squatting for bodybuilding purposes).

                        Number two I would probably spend a few months getting the front squat up first as you can't lean forward with this mofo.

                        How is your dorsiflexion also?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Daniel7908 View Post
                          This has got me curious about one thing... If Aaron sits all the way back on the box, what would the pros and cons of doing that with the stance he must have used (I guess it must have been a medium-to-wide one for those sets), as opposed to using the extra wide stance recommended for box squats on the video below?

                          [YOUTUBE]e9HloHClt2Q[/YOUTUBE]
                          Wide stance places more stress on the medial portion of the upper legs and is much more suitable for powerlifting purposes not BB.

                          There is a much more 'balanced' portion of work throughout the whole upper leg with a narrower stance/lower depth squat. Hence why athletes do it to have greater carryover to athletic endevours.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by NZ RABBIT View Post
                            Is there a reason you're not squatting to rock bottom where the hams cover the calves?

                            I would place full RoM number one priority if there is a history of lumbar injury due to greater potential leg stress with less total load on the bar (assuming you're squatting for bodybuilding purposes).

                            Number two I would probably spend a few months getting the front squat up first as you can't lean forward with this mofo.

                            How is your dorsiflexion also?
                            Doing box squats now because when I injured myself I was doing ATG squats, got stuck coming out of the hole and rounded forward... so part of it is a mental thing to try to get back to doing squats period - I will try full ROM again once I am confident in doing the movement again. Second reason is that it is too easy to start shortening ROM when fatigue sets in - so the box is a way of keeping myself "honest" while I'm re-learning the movement.

                            Front squats are unfortunately not an option at this time - due to some degenerative issues in my neck, front squats leave me with a numb arm for about a week when I do them.
                            Getting old sucks.

                            Dorsiflexion is better than average.

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                            Feel free to PM me with injury questions - I'll get back to you soon as I can.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by PTAaron View Post
                              Doing box squats now because when I injured myself I was doing ATG squats, got stuck coming out of the hole and rounded forward... so part of it is a mental thing to try to get back to doing squats period - I will try full ROM again once I am confident in doing the movement again. Second reason is that it is too easy to start shortening ROM when fatigue sets in - so the box is a way of keeping myself "honest" while I'm re-learning the movement.

                              Front squats are unfortunately not an option at this time - due to some degenerative issues in my neck, front squats leave me with a numb arm for about a week when I do them.
                              Getting old sucks.

                              Dorsiflexion is better than average.

                              Interesting. Ok firstly what is the goal from squatting specifically? I mean are you using it to focus on quad or posterior chain h-trophy?

                              What specifically from the front squats cause the peripheral symptoms? I mean is it simply the position of the bar?

                              Have you tried the 'lifting strap' grip? Whereby you use 'olympic' style arm position but your hands hold lifting straps?

                              Or those other devices like frontsquatharness.co.nz or manta rays?

                              Just thinking of ways to work around it because as you know if you get it wrong with the back squats you know you're going to break at the hips and it could be dejavu unforts...

                              Front squats as you know force you upright and protect what has been broken previously.

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