I have a 9-5 desk job and also spend large parts of my free time sitting down. Whilst a small change in this direction is possible a large part of it isn't practical and therefore an answer such as, sit less, however correct, doesn't really solve my particular problem.
I believe I have a front dominant body, that is due to the nature of my work and extra curricular activities. Many common fitness programs (starting strength, 5/3/1 etc. ) design programs whereby the muscles in the body are developed evenly however this will not correct an already existing imbalance. I think that certain muscles in my body are much stronger than others, in the case where they should be equally strong. For example I always feel my quads after squatting and hardly ever feel my hamstrings. I am aware that DOMS is not an indicative measure of "how well a muscle has been hit".
But I find myself unable to squat with correct form, due to this muscle imbalance. I can go to parallel but an attempt to go below results in form degradation where the bar tends to track forwards and up instead of straight up as it should. I think this problem is due to my quads being dominant and taking all of the load instead of transferring it to my hamstrings and glutes where appropriate. My quads also have quite bad static flexibility, I identify this because I find it painful to sit on my knees.
If I have this and potentially other imbalances as a result of my job, I would like a routine which helps me to address these imbalances. It likely that other imbalances will exist which I believe are probably common among office works and result in bad posture.
Firstly is there some sort of standard test I could take (ideally at home) where I could identify what imbalances I have?
Are there any weightlifting routines such as 531 or similar which are designed to improve things like bad posture or a weaker back half of the body? I would still like the routine to help me improve my lifting numbers and aesthetics.
If not how should I adapt an existing routine to correct any imbalances I have identified?
I had a lot of responses to the first submitted answer that won't fit in a comment so I address them here. I have decided to leave the original post intact but hopefully these edits will help to clarify the question.
Why do you want to go below parallel? Going to parallel is perfectly acceptable for squat form and if it's detrimental for you to go lower i don't understand why you want to.
When I said parallel I meant that I wish that my hip crease in the squat would go below my knees as described in this how to squat video by Alan Thrall.
How do you know this is a good test? Also there is no way that 'Quad flexibility' would stop you from squatting. If you can sit on your knees at all even with pain then your quads obviously have the range of motion to do a squat as that is practically half that range of motion of sitting on your knees.
I don't know it is a good test, but this is why I asked if there are ways I can test this at home. By this I meant; a lot of people work desk jobs and a lot of people have a rather sedentary lifestyle. I made a reasonable assumption that based upon these conditions many people probably suffer from similar bad posture problems. Referring to the video I linked above, right at the start he states that
If you are not physically capable of performing a proper squat, your squat is still going to suck. What do I mean by this? If you have poor posture, tight ankles, tight hips and bad shoulders, nothing I tell you will fix your squat overnight. You need to fix your imbalances and improve your flexibility before you can expect to squat twice your bodyweight with good form. (emphasis my own)
I was sort of looking for something like "You can try these stretches or positions, if you can/can't get into them then chances are you have a muscle imbalance or something that will need to be fixed". It's hard to identify what imbalances I might have because I am used to how my body moves and day to day I'm not encumbered by a lack of flexibility. But I am sure that the reason I cannot get my hips below my knees (I can make it level with a weightlifting shoe) is due to inflexibility of one or more muscles. I thought potentially my quads as they "feel tight" but I don't know that. I will look into stretches for my ankles and hips as you have suggested. What really would be great would be maybe five or ten stretches / positions to try and hold / video, based on the performance of them / recordings it would help to identify / highlight where I might have muscle imbalances.
I personally think you're overthinking everything a little. A lot of this knowledge comes from time and experience. There won't be a general program(such as 5 3 1) that will address YOUR imbalances because then it wouldn't work for the general public.
True I could be, I used to lift and I haven't for 5+ years and during that time have been rather sedentary. I used to have a coach but live in a different country now (or I'd just go back). All I really know is that my form is worse and I am less flexible but I used to just lift and I am not a trainer. I am aware that some imbalances I may have will be unique to me. I was going off the assumption under which many fitness routines are published online and followed by many people. That is, most people will benefit from performing these exercises like this, by doing so, the following response can be expected. The idea was, a huge amount of people have muscular imbalances, and a lot of them (my assumption) can probably be grouped together and caused by the same thing. It makes sense to me, therefore, that a routine which someone would run initially when training say to "fix office chair posture" would exist and I am surprised there isn't an adaptation in a program like (531) or others that starts with this in mind (given Alan's statement at the start of his squat tutorial). I have little knowledge in this area so maybe my assumption is a massive over simplification it was just what I expected. I.e. first couple of weeks focus on these stretches and exercises to get your body more attuned / capable of getting into positions like the squat. I would view these as "common issues".
It's also likely that if one muscle is weak that the antagonistic muscle is tight.
This is exactly what I meant by my quads, they feel very tight and I am therefore worried that because of this my hamstrings are weak. Really it was just an example. To stick with this example, if my quads are tight does it mean my hamstrings are weak, is there a link or could I also have strong hamstrings and tight quads?
Another thing worth noting is that you could be wrong about your imbalances, and end up making them worse. So it really would be worth seeing a personal trainer or physio.
Yes for sure I could be. Again this is why I was after some sort of "stretch test at home" which would guide me through some stretches and help me to identify these imbalances.
A point about the squat is that theres no real benefit to going below parallel unless you're training for the specific purpose of squatting really heavy below parallel
Is "going parallel" defined as your hip crease going below your knees?