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  1. #1
    Registered User Rudiger1991's Avatar
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    Squats below parallel with rounded lower back vs squats slightly above parallel

    It is impossible for me to keep my spine neutral once my squat reaches parallel. In order to keep a neutral spine I have to squat slightly above parallel. This happens when I even squat without any weights so it is not related to weight.

    I read that this lower back rounding is due to weak abs+glutes+tight hip flexors or hamstrings . I have been trying to address these issues but nothing works
    I also worked on my ankle mobility which improved the squat itself but the lower back rounding is still there

    At the moment, I think I am left out with 2 options, either squat below parallel with rounded lower back or squat above parallel(three quarter squat) with neutral back, what do you guys think?
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  2. #2
    Registered User dazitmayn's Avatar
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    a "neutral" spine is a range of degrees of flexion (back rounding) of the lower back, not a specific number

    some degree of rounding is fine and not a significant factor of injury, unless maybe you go from a typical torso angle to a full on good morning trying to get the weight up. but ofc we need to see a video of your form.

    your lower back rounding could be due to a lack of ankle dorsiflexion and hip mobility. Basically your body would be overcompensating by "borrowing" mobility from your lower back in order to hit below parallel. It's not necessarily anything to do with weak abs, glutes or tight hip flexors/hamstrings. Weak abs and glutes in my experience has very little to do with it, although if you aren't braced hard and tight enough your lower back can end up rounding. Ofc any of this is speculation without seeing a form video.

    But what you can do in the mean time is play around with your stance width and your angle that your feet is out and see what is comfortable for you. Another option is to buy weightlifting shoes with a raised heel (usually 0.75 inches is the most common). If you can't afford those, try putting 0.5-1 inch plates under heels and squatting this way. You may or may not want to work on ankle and hip mobility but imo just practice squatting and playing around with your stance and toe angles as well as elevating your heels.

    To hit depth easier as well, focus on pushing your knees out instead of forward as well as "breaking/initiating with the hips first". Pitching your knees forward increases the amount of travel needed to hit parallel.

    squatting above parallel an inch or 2 probably isn't the end of the world here, but I would try these things that I have mentioned.
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  3. #3
    Weak and foolish OldFartTom's Avatar
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    There are way too many "squat depth" videos in existence. I think if some zombie apocalypse occurred and reduced us to 2 videos on the topic, then the two I'd pick for surviving humanity are these, which will definitely answer your question. In viewing order we have...

    Dr Stuart McGill and Aaron Lipsey


    The always entertaining Alan Thrall
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    Registered User jk202's Avatar
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    Just use heel elevation/ plates under your heels. Squatting "deeper" by rounding your spine is doing absolutely nothing for your legs
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    pay the iron price SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    There are reasons why some people can't squat below parallel without spinal flexion - deep hip sockets it one.

    However, the problem can also be a question of control. For example, I have to actively focus on pushing my spine back (it feels like I'm rounding the lower back but I'm not). Otherwise I hyperextend thoughout most of the lift - and then flip over into buttwink at the bottom - which is where the injury risk comes in. I have deep hip sockets too but I can at least reach parallel, just not lower.
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  6. #6
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    Originally Posted by OldFartTom View Post
    There are way too many "squat depth" videos in existence. I think if some zombie apocalypse occurred and reduced us to 2 videos on the topic, then the two I'd pick for surviving humanity are these, which will definitely answer your question. In viewing order we have...

    Dr Stuart McGill and Aaron Lipsey


    The always entertaining Alan Thrall
    I watched Jeff the Jeopardy host's video: the info between 3:57- 5:00...at 5:00 ('A deep squat will prime the booty better than a shallow squat.'). Happy to have reconfirmation I'm not spinning my wheel..lol

    Thanks for the video, Tom.
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    Going off of what you posted, and without seeing you in person/video, this sounds like a mobility issue. Maybe do ATG bodyweight or lightweight below parallel squats every other workout?
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    Tight hip flexors would be pulling your lumbar spine into extension, not flexion.

    Also give low bar squatting a try. I just switched to it and should have done it sooner.
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