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It seems a lot of form problems with the squats are caused by inadequate flexibility - I think mainly in the hamstrings and also the shoulders.

What are some good stretches that can be used to enhance the squat form?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

For shoulders, shoulder dislocations:

For hamstrings, here are two:

  • Sit on the ground, place your legs straight out in front of you in contact with the floor for their entire length, reach forward as far as you can and hold (as this is a static stretch, best to do on off-days)
  • Stand up next to a railing that you can hold onto with your left hand (or not; it just helps with balance). Swing your right leg back and forth. On the forward, upswing, try to keep both your planted (left) leg and swinging (right) leg straight. (This is a dynamic stretch that you can do in preparation for the squat after you've done some warm-up on the bike machine.)

Tight hamstrings can make it difficult to keep the lower back in extension, and make it difficult to get to proper depth. Shoulder flexibility issues will prevent you from using an optimal grip on the bar.

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Mobility in the hips is often just as much a problem as tight shoulders and hamstrings. Squatting early and often helped me.

I improved my squat by:

  • ...sitting in the bottom of a squat for a few minutes, moving around gently, every morning after a brief warm-up
  • ...squatting heavy with a barbell three times a week
  • ...popping into a squat for a few seconds a dozen times a day, grabbing onto something for balance if I had to
  • ...using a giant rubber band to "floss" my hip joints (see this video from Kelly Starrett's excellent Mobility Project)
  • ...incorporating leg swings (pretty much like these) into all my warm-ups
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You are right about lack of flexibility causing problems with your form with squats. In addition to your hamstrings, shoulders and chest, also consider the flexibility of your:

  • Heel cords made up of the gastroc and soleus to give you sufficient ankle range.
  • Hip Flexors to allow proper position of your low back.
  • Gluteals made up of the maximus, medius and minimus.

If you find restrictions in these muscles you can stretch them specifically. Core strength is also important to good form.

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