I got my form checked by a trainer today, he made a couple of good points:

1- Don't arch your lower back too much while coming down.

I looked up online, and this article kind of supports it, although I have no back pain right now, increasing the weights may cause it in future. How can I maintain a neutral spine throughout? There is no uneven loading, and I am not leaning forward, but I compared my form with his on the mirror, what I noticed was he was a bit straighter than me. I will try the big breath technique next time though.

2- Keep a slight bend on your knees when you come up, or it will cause excess load on the knees. Is that even true?

3- Your elbows are coming back, this may be the cause of pain, though I have noticed my right elbow is a bit forward than the left elbow. How do I improve this? Right now I am using a medium grip with elbows pushing down and forward (but I goes away when I squat).

Looking forward to improving my form on the next workout, all your suggestions are welcome.

2 Answers 2


1) Some people (especially women) seem to have much more pronounced arches even when trying to be neutral. Bret Contreras has linked that a bit to more of an illusion resulting from differences in body composition (larger hips, larger butts, usually less back muscle tissue). But it's pretty common to see these crazy arched backs.

Try standing up "straight" with a slight bend in your knees. Focus on just having your back straight (neutral). Abs tight, back tight, straight. Put your weight on your heels, wiggle your toes off the ground.

From that posture you'll hold the bar and from that posture you'll drop down into a squat.

A huge aspect of the squat is to maintain that back form while loaded up with a bunch of weight on top of you, so don't think it's just you with the problem. Keeping your back straight during the squat is part of the exercise. A big part.

I find it's more important to drive through my heels and focus on my hips, glutes, and hamstrings. My back figures it out from there.

2) Not sure how you couldn't keep your knees bent when squatting.

3) I don't really understand that one. Your elbows should be trying to touch and jamming back, causing your upper back muscles to tense, making a shelf for the barbell to sit on.

This video should serve as a good guide, and I'd recommend picking up Rippetoe's book Starting Strength (v3).



What really helped me understand proper back arch without overextension was this Kelly Starrett / Mobility Workout of the Day video. The key idea is just this: squeeze your glutes (your butt). That's the big trick. Arch your back, tighten the abs and the spinal erectors and retract the shoulderblades, but squeeze your butt. This mostly prevents an over-arching lower back.

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