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  1. #1
    Registered User belou's Avatar
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    Squats newbie: trouble getting low enough.

    I do squats every other workout for my current routine (middle of stage 1, NROLFW). This is the first time I've ever done squats with a bar. I'm still having trouble getting low enough to get parallel. I'm about 10 degrees off. When I try to go any lower I begin to lose my balance and tweak my back to regain it.

    My weight lifting partner says I'm not that far off of parallel and shouldn't worry about it. She says its better I stay with good form then go any lower. I also have a long torso, so I'm not sure if that has anything to do with it.

    However, I'm afraid it's only going to get harder for me to lower down to parallel if I don't build my strength with the complete range of motion.

    Any tips on how to get lower safely? Is getting down lower something I should continue to strive for?
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  2. #2
    Wants 2B Infinite Beauty Snowgrrl83's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by belou View Post
    My weight lifting partner says I'm not that far off of parallel and shouldn't worry about it. She says its better I stay with good form then go any lower. I also have a long torso, so I'm not sure if that has anything to do with it.
    I agree with what your partner says. Keep good form and you will get more and more comfortable with your squats over time - its not worth risking injury. Just don't increase your weight load until you are comfortable with going that 10 extra degrees.
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    Originally Posted by belou View Post
    I do squats every other workout for my current routine (middle of stage 1, NROLFW). This is the first time I've ever done squats with a bar. I'm still having trouble getting low enough to get parallel. I'm about 10 degrees off. When I try to go any lower I begin to lose my balance and tweak my back to regain it.

    My weight lifting partner says I'm not that far off of parallel and shouldn't worry about it. She says its better I stay with good form then go any lower. I also have a long torso, so I'm not sure if that has anything to do with it.

    However, I'm afraid it's only going to get harder for me to lower down to parallel if I don't build my strength with the complete range of motion.

    Any tips on how to get lower safely? Is getting down lower something I should continue to strive for?
    Stretch before and after lifting and make sure you warm-up properly. If you're doing squats with the bar for now do a couple set of bodyweight squats first. Try widening your stance and angling your toes out.
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  4. #4
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    yes try to have wider stance...helps!
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    Registered User kdiamond55's Avatar
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    I have issues with squats too because I have funky duck legs that turn in LOL. I can't get past 85 pounds, though deadlifts I can do more than my weight...I agree better form is more important than the weight. Don't struggle and end up hurting yourself.
    Karen
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    Registered User belou's Avatar
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    I think my issue might be with my flexibility in my Achilles.

    Though I can squat to parallel with my bodyweight and my arms stretched out for balance, I can't squat with a broomstick as my bar. So my issue is more to do with balance then weight load. I tried a wider stance, but that didn't help me. However, if I place something under my heels, I can squat to parallel.

    I did some searching online for similar experiences, and many people point to Achilles flexibility. I guess I'll try to do regular stretching to improve it. Until I achieve enough flexibility, I'm thinking about squatting with dumbbells in front so I can maintain my balance when I go down to parallel.

    Has anybody had this issue? Or can anybody recommend other modifications I can try with my squats. Should I continue to squat with something to lift my heels?
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    You can lift your heels for the time being & work on your ankle flexibility (I have the same problem, every where else is gumby )

    Or you can do what I do, go as low as possible & call it a squat

    Or you can add overhead squats, which are fun & shows everyone what a badass you are. Due to the slightly adjustable center of gravity you can shift your center of balance forward & it really allows you to get low.
    You'll have to use much less weight than you do for back squats, but can just make up for it with standing up more explosively. Also if it's a weight that's a challenging push press, you just incorporate 3-5 (however many sets you're doing) more upper body explosive lifts into your routine
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  8. #8
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    Originally Posted by womanoid View Post
    You can lift your heels for the time being & work on your ankle flexibility (I have the same problem, every where else is gumby )

    Or you can do what I do, go as low as possible & call it a squat

    Or you can add overhead squats, which are fun & shows everyone what a badass you are. Due to the slightly adjustable center of gravity you can shift your center of balance forward & it really allows you to get low.
    You'll have to use much less weight than you do for back squats, but can just make up for it with standing up more explosively. Also if it's a weight that's a challenging push press, you just incorporate 3-5 (however many sets you're doing) more upper body explosive lifts into your routine
    don't lift your heals. put something under the heals instead. lifting your heels will **** your knees up :P
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    Originally Posted by belou View Post
    I do squats every other workout for my current routine (middle of stage 1, NROLFW). This is the first time I've ever done squats with a bar. I'm still having trouble getting low enough to get parallel. I'm about 10 degrees off. When I try to go any lower I begin to lose my balance and tweak my back to regain it.

    My weight lifting partner says I'm not that far off of parallel and shouldn't worry about it. She says its better I stay with good form then go any lower. I also have a long torso, so I'm not sure if that has anything to do with it.

    However, I'm afraid it's only going to get harder for me to lower down to parallel if I don't build my strength with the complete range of motion.

    Any tips on how to get lower safely? Is getting down lower something I should continue to strive for?
    What is causing you to lose your balance when you go lower? If you can do it bodyweight then it's a form issue. You may want to do front squats for awhile which can help teach you good form.
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  10. #10
    Viva la Vulva womanoid's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by kiddink View Post
    don't lift your heals. put something under the heals instead. lifting your heels will **** your knees up :P
    duh, that's what I meant. I'm running on no sleep.
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  11. #11
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    Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe is a great book to get to help with squatting.
    http://maximumfitnessconsulting.com
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    I actually find it easier to keep good form if I go below paralell (atg) rather than trying to get only paralell. Its a lot harder and I need to lower my weight to do it but I at least know that my form is good and I can feel my butt touch my legs at the bottom so I def know I am going low enough!
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    I have been asking a few people that novice/intermediate weight lifters to watch my form. They all say my shallow squat looks perfect. However, as my thighs approach parallel my shins begin to slightly retreat back. Before I can reach parallel I lose my balance. It seems as if when the angle of my knee approaches 90 degrees, the angle tolerated by my shin/ankle decreases, pushing my shins and center of gravity backwards.

    I have nothing against full squats, I just can't get passed parallel without falling on my butt.

    My colleague, who has been on Starting Strength for a few months now, thought it was really peculiar that I couldn't keep my shins angled forward as I descended. After going over the motion several times, he thought it was likely a mobility issue. Unfortunately he had only read about shoulder mobility issues since he has them.

    For the past month and a half I've read a lot about form and watched several videos. Whether it is form or mobility or both, I think need to consult an in-person professional that can see my form first-hand.

    I'll read up on the overhead squat and try that out while I work through my back squat issues. Thanks all.
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  14. #14
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    Originally Posted by belou View Post
    I do squats every other workout for my current routine (middle of stage 1, NROLFW). This is the first time I've ever done squats with a bar. I'm still having trouble getting low enough to get parallel. I'm about 10 degrees off. When I try to go any lower I begin to lose my balance and tweak my back to regain it.

    My weight lifting partner says I'm not that far off of parallel and shouldn't worry about it. She says its better I stay with good form then go any lower. I also have a long torso, so I'm not sure if that has anything to do with it.

    However, I'm afraid it's only going to get harder for me to lower down to parallel if I don't build my strength with the complete range of motion.

    Any tips on how to get lower safely? Is getting down lower something I should continue to strive for?
    Have you tried box squats? Get a bench or a box (if you gym has one) and position it so that your butt will touch. Given the standard height of most benches, this should bring you to parallel. When you get to the bottom, relax for a second and then bring the weight up (try not to lean back or generate momentum). Hopefully, this gets you to parallel and it will keep your form in check until you're able to do it without the box.
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    Originally Posted by belou View Post
    I have been asking a few people that novice/intermediate weight lifters to watch my form. They all say my shallow squat looks perfect. However, as my thighs approach parallel my shins begin to slightly retreat back. Before I can reach parallel I lose my balance. It seems as if when the angle of my knee approaches 90 degrees, the angle tolerated by my shin/ankle decreases, pushing my shins and center of gravity backwards.

    I have nothing against full squats, I just can't get passed parallel without falling on my butt.

    My colleague, who has been on Starting Strength for a few months now, thought it was really peculiar that I couldn't keep my shins angled forward as I descended. After going over the motion several times, he thought it was likely a mobility issue. Unfortunately he had only read about shoulder mobility issues since he has them.

    For the past month and a half I've read a lot about form and watched several videos. Whether it is form or mobility or both, I think need to consult an in-person professional that can see my form first-hand.

    I'll read up on the overhead squat and try that out while I work through my back squat issues. Thanks all.
    It sounds like a flexibility issue to me. Most people aren't just naturally flexible enough to have a deep below-parallel bodyweight squat right off the bat. So it's not that peculiar.

    Your shins should be angled slightly out, not directly forward.
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    Originally Posted by elainedeluca View Post
    Have you tried box squats? Get a bench or a box (if you gym has one) and position it so that your butt will touch. Given the standard height of most benches, this should bring you to parallel. When you get to the bottom, relax for a second and then bring the weight up (try not to lean back or generate momentum). Hopefully, this gets you to parallel and it will keep your form in check until you're able to do it without the box.
    I disagree (and I know amateurs doing box squats is very common) because:

    Doing box squats with poor form is dangerous because of the risk of spinal compression. If someone does a box squat with poor control, they can "slam" their lumbar spine down. not fun.

    Also doing box squats as a beginner doesnt really teach a person 2 things that every squatter needs to learn: kinesthetic awareness of the posterior chain, and the ability to keep the lower back, abs, and hip muscles tight.

    Box squats are great, but not for a newbie squatter


    OP, I also (like others) think you should continue squatting to the level you are comfortable getting to, then as you get more flexible you can increase the depth. I would not focus on moving more weight until you can comfortably break parallel...
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  17. #17
    Ditched the hooker heels! elainedeluca's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by summertown74 View Post
    I disagree (and I know amateurs doing box squats is very common) because:

    Doing box squats with poor form is dangerous because of the risk of spinal compression. If someone does a box squat with poor control, they can "slam" their lumbar spine down. not fun.

    Also doing box squats as a beginner doesnt really teach a person 2 things that every squatter needs to learn: kinesthetic awareness of the posterior chain, and the ability to keep the lower back, abs, and hip muscles tight.

    Box squats are great, but not for a newbie squatter


    OP, I also (like others) think you should continue squatting to the level you are comfortable getting to, then as you get more flexible you can increase the depth. I would not focus on moving more weight until you can comfortably break parallel...
    The OP was concerned about getting parallel. If you do box squats, you never have to ask about getting parallel and over time, your body will train itself to get to parallel without the box. Now, I didn't tell her to overload the bar with 500 lbs. If she can do a controlled squat with just the bar, but can't get that to parallel, incorporating the box will get her down to parallel.

    OP--are you new to lifting in general, or is it only the squat that you've introduced to your workout?
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    Registered User nixter's Avatar
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    I've had a similar issue as well. Mine was from lack of glute/ham flexibility though. I find that doing a really intensive pre workout out stretch with these muscles really helps me get lower while keeping my back straight and my tailbone from tucking in as I approach parallel.
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    Thanks for the advice everybody. I'm going to squat shallow with the bar until I can get an appointment with a trainer. I want to get figure out my form/flexibility issues before tackling modified exercises.

    Originally Posted by elainedeluca View Post
    OP--are you new to lifting in general, or is it only the squat that you've introduced to your workout?
    I'm a newbie to all free weight compound exercises with a bar. I started NROLFW a couple months ago. I've lifted with machines and dumbbells on and off for awhile before starting the program.

    Originally Posted by nixter View Post
    I've had a similar issue as well. Mine was from lack of glute/ham flexibility though. I find that doing a really intensive pre workout out stretch with these muscles really helps me get lower while keeping my back straight and my tailbone from tucking in as I approach parallel.
    I'll try this next time I'm on my squat day. Do you have any stretch recommendations?
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