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Update: Here is a new form check request: Squat form check (no. 2)


I would like a form check for my squats please.

One major problem with my high-bar squats (I haven't learnt to do low-bar squats yet) is that I can't get enough depth and my reps are not consistent even within the same set. Sometimes my depth is inconsistent and sometimes my torso angle is inconsistent.

I know I have other problems:

  1. I have been told that my descent is too fast and that I need to slow this down.
  2. When I breathe in to brace my core, it's my chest that puffs up. I should instead breathe in into my stomach and get my "ribs down".
  3. My heels come off at the bottom all the time. This is a serious problem because I might be trying to push with the weight a bit forward over my midfoot. I know this creates inefficiency, but if I try to keep my heels flat on the ground, I tend to fall back - the bar does not stay in line with my midfoot.
  4. I do high-bar squats, which is a crime against mankind in the power-lifting community (think Starting Strength). I have a feeling that I will lose a bit more of my depth when I start doing low-bar squats.

Why is it that in most of my reps, I miss reaching the maximum depth? I would appreciate any other comments and feedback on my form. Any idea how to fix the other problems?


Dec 13, 2020 220 lbs squat video

Inconsistent depth. Full depth reached in the fifth rep (this is the best I can do). First rep is close enough, but the rest are short.


Jan 4, 2021 215 lbs squat video

I reached depth in the first three reps, but notice my torso angle - inconsistent. I am short on the fourth rep.


Jan 4, 2021 205 lbs squat video

Second and fifth rep hits depth; the rest are short. Also, torso angle is inconsistent.

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  • 4
    A quick note — high-bar squats are 100% fine, don't think twice about them. Literally ignore all low-bar/high-bar conflict. Jan 6 at 11:23
  • 2
    "if I try to keep my heels flat on the ground, I tend to fall back - the bar does not stay in line with my midfoot" Stop trying to keep the bar over your midfoot. It is an absolute myth that the bar should be over your midfoot, propagated by those who don't understand mechanics, and the consequence of forcing the bar over your midfoot is that you will fall backwards! The bar naturally comes forward during a squat, which it must do to act as a counterweight to your butt sticking out backwards. Jan 7 at 1:35
5

Few things jumped out at me and a few suggestions.

Working from top to bottom:

  • Relax your face! I don't have any evidence for this, but I always seem to pull and squat better when I don't look like I'm entering a gurning competition.
  • Wrist position. You look like you're trying to hold some of the weight on your hands by bending your wrist back at an extreme angle. You should be actively pulling the bar into your traps, which helps to tighten up the mid back and keep the chest up.
  • Feet. As mentioned in Dave Liepmann's answer, you really need a decent base of support for lifting, otherwise you lose power trying to stabilise your feet / ankles. I recommend bare feet if you can, if not, then a cheap pair of Converse.

Suggestions:

  • Relax a bit (mentally, not physically). I know this sounds counter intuitive, but if you're stressing about making the lift and making depth, then you're going to make it harder on yourself.
  • Grip the bar. Squeeze the hell out of the bar and pull it into your traps. Personally, I hate squatting in a hoodie as the bar always seems to end up sitting on the hood (unless I have the hood up like a moody powerlifter), but if it works for you, then just make sure you're really locking the bar in place.
  • Slow down the decent. Slow it down so you can groove the squat pattern to achieve depth, then you can speed it up if you want to take advantage of the muscular stretch reflex. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
  • Pause squats. Again, as Dave Liepmann suggested, pause at the bottom of the squat for a few seconds.
  • Box squats. Stack up some of those weight plates in the background so when you sit on them you're just below parallel, and squat to those. This will teach you what the correct depth feels like, and it'll also slow you down some (you do NOT want to slam your coccyx into a box when loaded up with a couple hundred pounds).
  • Goblet squats. A Dan John favourite, you basically sit in the bottom position of a squat with a kettlebell (or dumbbell in front of you) and push your knees out with your elbows. It's a great way to open up the hips and improve mobility allowing to squat depth.

Don't know how you warm up, but I'd recommend throwing in some goblet squats into your warm up, then maybe spend a few weeks with a lighter weight, really slowing down the movement by squatting to a box and working on keeping everything tight, top to bottom.

As an idea that very few people seem to agree with, try squatting every day. Don't go balls to the wall absolute max, but put in some decent reps every day. There is actually a squat every day program, and I've personally seen great improvements in my squat when I squatted every day for a couple of months, but a lot of people just don't like the idea (or they're scared that they'll lose the ability to walk normally and have a permanent cowboy swagger).

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  • Hi Dark, you are right about the face thing. I have noticed that and I have tried staying relaxed, but I think it has something to do with my bracing. It doesn't happen with weights under 200 lbs. My heaviest squat so far has been 220 lbs and maybe it's the anticipation that I might fail or get crushed by the weight if I don't tighten up top to bottom. I see what you mean by slowing it down to find my depth consistently. That makes sense. And thanks for the detailed answer and the feedback. I will work on the pointers.
    – RoundHouse
    Jan 7 at 20:22
  • 1
    @RoundHouse The face thing is probably exactly that, anticipation of failing. If it doesn't happen with weights under 200lbs, then that's probably a mental sticking point rather than a physical one (because, you know, it's a nice round number, and we humans are weird like that). I'd say spend a little time working with 200lbs and just get very comfortable with it to the point you're almost bored of the weight, then add a bit more on. I've used that to break mental plateaus before.
    – Dark Hippo
    Jan 8 at 8:41
4

You're definitely descending way too fast. That may be related to you coming off your heels, which is definitely happening and definitely not helped by those shoes. Can you squat barefoot, or in socks, or get flat-soled shoes? That squishy heel is tough to work with. (You might or might not still come onto your toes a bit due to ankle inflexibility.)

I don't see any particular problems with depth, but I didn't go crazy scrutinizing every rep. The thing to fix here is your heel coming up, which might show you problems in your bottom position. Have you tried pause squats, or holds in the bottom position? That might help with some hip flexibility that will let you feel better going slower.

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  • +1 for pause squats. Really great way to dial in power from the hole.
    – C. Lange
    Jan 6 at 19:44
  • Dave, thanks for the feedback. I did try pause squats but the decent didn't slow down - and maybe the pause wasn't long enough. I have been trying to slow down the decent in the last few sessions - were you able to take a look at the Jan 4 (215 lbs) video?
    – RoundHouse
    Jan 6 at 20:55
  • The pauses need to be waaaay longer, like, count to 5 while at the bottom. Don't do it for your max – deload by a quarter or even more. Jan 6 at 21:49
  • 1
    Just watched Jan 4, and it looks like everything going wrong in the chest angle is caused by the unstable heel, which rolls you forward onto your heels, so you straighten your torso up, and you grind it out. Definitely need to fix those feet! Need a stable foundation. Jan 6 at 21:56
  • @DaveLiepmann Have you seen this video by Juggernaut Training Systems? They say that one should go down as fast as their technique allows them to. This is the resource that I used when I started learning the squat ... maybe that's why my decent is fast. I will work on it and try to slow it down.
    – RoundHouse
    Jan 6 at 21:58
0

If you trying to make accent on your squats you don't have to reach the max depth. For a good activation in squats you can perform parallel squats and you gonna be perfectly fine.

Don't jump a gun. Your technique is not perfect yet. Try to squats with 100lb-150lb and work on your technique a month or two it's better than be complitely out of training for a few months due to an injury.

You can avoide an inconsistensy in a torso angle simply working better on your back and a squat technique. You not probably dealing with a squat weakness. As far as I can see it might caused by back or scapular weakness because when your go down your bar is going straight, but when you coming up it becomes unstable

Tip for coming off heels. Try to place under your heels 5lb plates and try to push on 'em when squating. I recomend perform squats with 5lb plates till you stop fall back while pushing on your heels

You can watch a few vids about good squats technique

https://youtu.be/bEv6CCg2BC8 https://youtu.be/SHgQeBk7zIs

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