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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:41 pm 
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Hello Everyone,

To start I'll give some background

My name is Sean, I'm 25, I have a Bachelor's Degree in Geography and currently work as a cartographer. I like to take as scientific an approach as possible to pretty much everything I do in life and this forum has the smartest, most rational and scientific minded members of any resistance training site on the web by a wide margin.

I started resistance training the last week of august and at that time I was extremely unfit. (although there have been times in the past when i was well conditioned for long distance hiking). I was 225 lbs 5'10" and it was all fat. the first few weeks I did a very dumb split routine a friend showed me, when trying to check the forms for the different excersises as I was suspicious that his sucked I stumbled across this website. KenDowns' posts inspired to to try the stronglifts program so that's what i did.

On to the problem.

My squat form sucks. I've watched the videos stickied at the top of this forum as well as several others and I have an idea of what a squat is supposed to look and feel like. I've deloaded a few times to fix several form issues and now I only have one or two problems left but I just can't seem to fix them, even with the empty bar.

The problem is I absolutely cannot get 'heel drive' when i try the powerlifting squat nor can I get my center of gravity to stay between my heel and the balls of my feet on the bodybuilder squat. No matter what i do my weight shifts onto the balls of my feet and sometimes my toes. I also have a lot of trouble keeping my shins close to vertical for the powerlifting squat and getting below parralel without feeling like i'm going to fall backward.

On a related note, I thought the sensation that I might fall could be from week hamstrings so I tried to do glute ham raises but near the top of the motion I got severe cramping in my calves, is there a rememdy for this?

I am extremely front and top heavy with a very large beer gut, but I see powerlifters with that body type all the time so I don't think that's the problem.

Because of these problems my squat is faltering in the 130-150lb range while all my other lifts just keep zipping along. I'm sure I could progress on squats if i just accepted the bad form but of course I don't want to do that.

Your advice will be greatly appreciated

-Sean


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:50 pm 
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The large gut you see on power lifters is not really a gut. They fill their belly with air in order to brace for the lift. The air in the belly adds support to the spine. Check the diet section for tips on how to get rid of the belly. (more egg yolks, less beer).

You need to lean to sit back into the squat. Box squats would probably help.

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Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.~Hippocrates
Strength is the adaptation that leads to all other adaptations that you really care about - Charles Staley
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 7:35 pm 
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Thank you stu. To clarify
"The large gut you see on power lifters is not really a gut."
Do you mean by this that you think my gut is in fact interfering with my form?

Also, what is the best way to add box squats to my routine? Should I simply do my 5x5 squats all as box squats?

As far as my diet, I changed it and think I have it in check now. I'm making good progress on the gut based on the mirror test although my weight has only dropped about 5 pounds in 2 months due to increase in muscle (I hope).
In fact, I based a lot of my diet decisions on advice I've seen you give other users, so thank you.

-Sean


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 7:43 pm 
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H-Bizzle wrote:
...
Do you mean by this that you think my gut is in fact interfering with my form?
...


It could be, if your gut is hitting your thighs, you won't get proper movement at the hips. I'll leave the box squat technique to the other guys. I know I just rotate through box squats for about a month at a time, then back to back squats. There may be a better way.

Don't worry about how fast you lose weight. As long as it's going in the direction you want, you'll get there in the end.

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Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.~Hippocrates
Strength is the adaptation that leads to all other adaptations that you really care about - Charles Staley
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 8:22 pm 
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Bizzle,

I'm working out with a 19 year old who is about 260 at 5' 10". His weight is distributed all over though, which may be a bit different. Anyway, he has some of the same problems you are describing, and it seems to be entirely about balance for him, not strength. But of course if you can't balance it you can't lift it.

If you don't have the book Starting Strength it's the best 20.00 USD you can spend. To get an idea of the content, check out this page:

http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/ ... #The_Squat

What that page does not show is the body-weight squat, where you go down and stick your arms between your knees. As a test of balance this is the starting point, can you do this?

Next, can you do it properly with an empty bar?

Next, how many warm-ups do you do, at what weight intervals, and does the back-to-front balance issue shift as the weight goes up or does it stay the same?

For me getting the sitting back thing was like riding a bike, I had to fail a few times before it clicked. Practicing with an empty bar is good. Sometimes people say things like, "pretend you're sitting back onto a low stool", or one my wife told me, "you're in a skeevy bar and you need to use the toilet but you don't want to touch it."


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 8:27 pm 
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I thought Box Squats were a bit advanced and if taken lightly can cause bad spine issues, do to the sudden stop. But, so, be careful

And welcome. We've all been inspired by Ken. That's him in his avatar.

I knwo exactly what you mean by beer gut and feeling like you are going to fall backwards. If you have a low bar set up, are you leaning forward a bit? Push hips back and then you'll need to lean a bit forward to keep the bar over your center of feet. Keep knees out and wider stance may help. Also make friends with kpj, he's helped me tremendously. Probalby much of my move from 177 to 210. No prize winning numbers but good improvement due much to form ques.

Is your natural squat, like if you are pulling weeds, to get up on the balls of your feet, like a baseball catcher? Mine was, so adapting to real squats was not natural.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 12:32 am 
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H-Bizzle wrote:

The problem is I absolutely cannot get 'heel drive' when i try the powerlifting squat nor can I get my center of gravity to stay between my heel and the balls of my feet on the bodybuilder squat. No matter what i do my weight shifts onto the balls of my feet and sometimes my toes. I also have a lot of trouble keeping my shins close to vertical for the powerlifting squat and getting below parralel without feeling like i'm going to fall backward.


Hi Bizzle,

Try "splitting the floor with your feet" on the way up. This (external rotation) activates/contracts the glutes more forcefully (because the glutes are external rotators) and force them to keep up with the quads.

It's my theory that when people fall forwards/do a squat-morning, their body tries to move the weight with the least amount of energy possible disregarding the correct form. So what you get is rotation at the knees (and followed by rotation at the hips) instead of the bar moving up and down. This is especially apparent when the weight gets very heavy even in experienced lifters.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 2:50 am 
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Could it be a soleus/flexibility issue?

Could you try placing something sturdy underneath your heels - like a thick mat or plank or something; just to give you an additional inch clearance? That might help you feel the balance better. A lot of squatters wear those slanted shoes which do a better job.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 6:24 am 
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You have a sedentary lifestyle with a sedentary job. Your 25 and been out of school, I'd guess for 3 years. I am guessing that you haven't been physically active since high school - 7 years (bare with me, I'm trying to make a point). You said you are weak. You have only been lifting for 1.5 months. You admit you have bad form. Does all this sound fairly accurate at this point?

To cut to the chase, drop weight you are lifting and learn to squat properly. You have all these ligaments and tendons and muscles that you haven't used probably since your high school PE class. You living a sedentary lifestyle probably has you all stoved up. You need to learn to squat properly to get the flexibility you have lost and start building all the little stuff needed in the squat. I believe that if you start doing this and don't let your ego get in the way, you'll start to see some progress.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:06 am 
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I agree with Hoose. You say that you've deloaded several times, but heck, you've only been lifting a month and a half, so none of those deloads lasted very long! So you take a few pounds off the bar, correct some problem to your own satisfaction, then put the weight right back on. Right?

Drop the weight and start working on the basics. When you have them down firmly and only then, start slowly adding weight.

This video is a great place to start. Don't judge it on video quality, but Dan John has about the best combination of knowledge, experience and teaching ability in the world. Watch the video every day for a week. Do the beginners' drills he teaches. Do body weight squats, then goblet squats, etc. You have MANY YEARS to do this. Starting at 25 you have at least 20 years of weightlifting prime (maybe 30 or more, if Kenny C is your example). Be patient. If you get in a hurry, your squatting career may be 3 months. If you go slow and learn it well, it can be a lifetime!

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:23 am 
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Why don't you try front squats?
T-nation has recently posted an article about it: http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/front_squats_made_easier


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:06 am 
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hoosegow wrote:
You have a sedentary lifestyle with a sedentary job. Your 25 and been out of school, I'd guess for 3 years. I am guessing that you haven't been physically active since high school - 7 years (bare with me, I'm trying to make a point). You said you are weak. You have only been lifting for 1.5 months. You admit you have bad form. Does all this sound fairly accurate at this point?

To cut to the chase, drop weight you are lifting and learn to squat properly. You have all these ligaments and tendons and muscles that you haven't used probably since your high school PE class. You living a sedentary lifestyle probably has you all stoved up. You need to learn to squat properly to get the flexibility you have lost and start building all the little stuff needed in the squat. I believe that if you start doing this and don't let your ego get in the way, you'll start to see some progress.



Yeah, this.

The thing about box squats is, you don't have to sit on the box. It really isn't a box squat at that point, but the box under your butt does a couple things:

Keeps your depth consistent
Teaches you how to sit back, because you won't ever fall to your doom all the way to the floor. You can shift your weight back and grease the grove with the "safety net" of having the box to sit on if you fail

Here is my front squat, I have this under my butt anytime I squat. Never sit on it unless I fail, but I always "squat to a box". But I don't ever deload on the box, just tap it with my cheeks and stand up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ew7EWaBlPa0

(Hanging chains from the bar will teach you to balance very very quickly, but that is light years ahead of you at this point, so don't go crazy here. I'm showing you how I use a box, lol.)


Wouter wrote:
Why don't you try front squats?
T-nation has recently posted an article about it: http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/front_squats_made_easier



If he is falling forward as is, I don't know that front squats are the best idea. He will be eating floor in no time, lol. ;)


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 12:53 pm 
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Hello again Everyone and thank you for the helpful replies,

Ken,


What that page does not show is the body-weight squat, where you go down and stick your arms between your knees. As a test of balance this is the starting point, can you do this?

Next, can you do it properly with an empty bar?

Next, how many warm-ups do you do, at what weight intervals, and does the back-to-front balance issue shift as the weight goes up or does it stay the same?

I'm going to try the body weight squat this afternoon and I'll let you know how it went when i get back on Monday. To answer your question, no I can't keep my center of gravity stable with the empty bar and as the weight goes up it only gets worse. I wish I could, then I'd just start over at the empty bar again and work my way up.

My typical warm up for squats is 5 reps of empty bar 3 reps of 25% 3 of 50% and then I do my 5x5.

Oscar,

"Is your natural squat, like if you are pulling weeds, to get up on the balls of your feet, like a baseball catcher? Mine was, so adapting to real squats was not natural."

Yes.

Paperclip,

"Try "splitting the floor with your feet" on the way up. This (external rotation) activates/contracts the glutes more forcefully (because the glutes are external rotators) and force them to keep up with the quads."

I started doing this when I realized i was doing squatmornings and it does indeed help with that, however it does not seem to help keep my center of gravity where it needs to be.

Teafan,

"Could you try placing something sturdy underneath your heels - like a thick mat or plank or something; just to give you an additional inch clearance? That might help you feel the balance better. A lot of squatters wear those slanted shoes which do a better job."

When I started lifting I was wearing hiking boots to the gym, they have an elevated heel. I read that this was bad and got some chuck taylor knock offs instead. Its possible I don't understand the flexibility issue, but i certainly don't feel stretched or strained during any part of the movement. I will try elevating my heels and see if that does help the balance and then let you know.

Hoosegow,

You have a sedentary lifestyle with a sedentary job. Your 25 and been out of school, I'd guess for 3 years. I am guessing that you haven't been physically active since high school - 7 years (bare with me, I'm trying to make a point). You said you are weak. You have only been lifting for 1.5 months. You admit you have bad form. Does all this sound fairly accurate at this point?

Well, its not quite as bad as all that, but its close enough to true to make your point.

I've had manual labour jobs off and on my entire life until just the past 2 years when I got this gig as a cartographer. Most of them involved endurance and low intensity cardio type stuff, however. I've always been a naturally very weak person even compared to other untrained men my size.

"To cut to the chase, drop weight you are lifting and learn to squat properly. You have all these ligaments and tendons and muscles that you haven't used probably since your high school PE class. You living a sedentary lifestyle probably has you all stoved up. You need to learn to squat properly to get the flexibility you have lost and start building all the little stuff needed in the squat. I believe that if you start doing this and don't let your ego get in the way, you'll start to see some progress."

I wish it were this easy, but I can't even do it properly with the empty bar. I'll try just body weight and i'll try a broomstick as well and let you know how that goes.

JungleDoc,

I agree with Hoose. You say that you've deloaded several times, but heck, you've only been lifting a month and a half, so none of those deloads lasted very long! So you take a few pounds off the bar, correct some problem to your own satisfaction, then put the weight right back on. Right?

I've deloaded 20% twice to correct other issues and added the weight in 5 lb increments each workout just as SL recommends. This was sufficient to fix my squatmorning issue and it helped me learn to make a better 'shelf'. This issue with the balance is a a problem I didn't recognize before, because I was doing bodybuilder squats. After trying power lifting squats and finding the balance issue, I realized I had an issue keeping my center of gravity off my toes and balls of my feet with the bodybuilder squat as well.

I'm going to watch that video some time after work. As I told the others I can't even do it with the empty bar so while I'm sure simply unloading all the weight will be part of the solution, I'm going to need help with something else to get this corrected as well.

Nygmen,

I'm going to try deloaded box squats today and see if the extra confidence helps me get heel drive and/or center of foot stability. Thank you. If you have any further suggestions on how to implement the box squat I'd love to hear them.

Thank you again everyone for your helpful replies,

-Sean


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:10 pm 
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Hi everyone, sorry it took me so long to get back. I went in to the gym on friday, went on a weekend trip then returned monday and got laid off from my job. So i've been moving back in with mom & dad and other stuff.

Anyway, I tried the things you guys suggested and found that with the empty bar and with a box set up I could just barely sit back far enough to keep my shins close to vertical and get below parralel. On the way back up if I concentrate and arch my toes up off the floor I can just barely keep the weight on my heels, but it definitely feels like I'm going to fall backward the whole time.

My plan from this point is to add 5 lbs to the bar each workout as normal, and see if eventually I start to feel more stable when warming up with the empty bar. I only missed 2 workouts during the move so i've got 15lbs added back on already and it still feels unbalanced, but it feels good to know I'm pretty close to good form on the squat.

As a side note, it was much easier lifting my stuff was when moving than it was last time. I also helped some other friends move last weekend and I was the strongest one there! Its amazing the difference just a couple months can make.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 11:18 pm 
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good luck getting employment

give my regards to your folks


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