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Rebuild Squats?

Posted: Sat Dec 06, 2014 2:48 pm
by KenDowns
Short Version
The short version of my question is, if I believe I have "lazy glutes" and that I am compensating on squats, what is the best way to rebuild form so they are involved? I'm considering laying off them entirely for a month, or going back all the way to body weight, empty bar and so forth.

Now for the details.

Issue 1 of 2: Asymmetry
All of the issues in this post/question are about my right hip and leg.

- balance issues on iso movements for right leg mean I *think* that leg is weaker but cannot tell. I keep falling over.
- farmer's walks are limited by the right leg - feels like the glute medius is unhappy
- pain in right hip flexor going into hole for squats
- various knots all over front of right leg, glute medius (I think) and glute maximus
- knots lead to tingling in smaller right toes - soft tissue work fixes this
- powerful involuntary tendency to shift weight to right leg coming out of the hole on squats. Maybe just a bad habit.

Left hip and leg has no issues at all.

Issue 2 of 2: Sleeping Glutes (?)
This is a working hypothesis. As a desk jockey, my hip flexors are short and tight and my glutes are stretched and asleep. The article that made the most sense to me was this one: ... o-fix-them" onclick=";return false;

My takeaway was that if my glutes indeed are asleep, then I have been compensating with lower back and hams, among others.

Bodyweight Experiments to Wake Up Glutes
Spent this week trying bridges and hip thrusts with just body weight. First results were feeling of exertion and tightness in lower back - perhaps I'm compensating?

After a few sets over a few days I finally got a mind-muscle connection to the glutes - even a feeling of mild soreness and exertion in the glutes after the set. So this strengthened confidence in the working hypothesis.

In fact it dawned on me today that my glutes have a bit of DOMS going - which has never happened to me ever. That was a bit of a light bulb and further strengthened my confidence in the working hypothesis that they have been asleep this entire time, and that I have been compensating all over the place.

Barbell Experiments to Wake Up Glutes
Squats. After some bw bridges and hip thrusts, with a bit of a mind-muscle connection going to glutes, tried some squats at 135# and lost the connection completely. Got the pain in the hip flexor and could not consciously bring the glutes into the lift.

Sumo Deads with light weights. Again mixing in bw bridges and hip thrusts, tried sumo deads with 185# with the goal being solely to establish and maintain the mind-muscle connection to glutes and use them in the lift. This was very successful, subjectively, in that I could keep the connection, and felt that post-set burn/pump/soreness when you've worked a muscle.

Back to The Main Question
So after the relaxing shower, lunch and coffee, I wondered if I've spent 4 years burning in a movement pattern for squats in which the glutes are doing little or nothing. This prompted this post and the main question: how to rebuild the pattern?

If strength is a skill, this suggests going all of the way back to bodyweight, just like when I cracked open my copy of Starting Strength, and doing it until I can get the connection. That's my current idea, which has the added benefit that I can do it any time I want, every day even, until I get somewhere.

Any comments at all would be greatly appreciated.

Re: Rebuild Squats?

Posted: Sun Dec 07, 2014 9:24 am
by Proper Knob
For all things 'glute' Ken, go to Bret Contreras. 149 articles on glute training. Your answers will be somewhere in there." onclick=";return false;

Re: Rebuild Squats?

Posted: Mon Dec 08, 2014 4:56 pm
by KenDowns

Thanks, yes, I've read a bunch of Contreras's stuff. That's where I ended up with hip thrusts, especially his strong point that you must start with body weight, just like any other move.

I think I may just take the starting strength approach next squat day (Saturday) and load up for as long as I can maintain some kind of mind-muscle connection to the glutes, and avoid that swing to the right that plagues me.

Re: Rebuild Squats?

Posted: Mon Dec 08, 2014 5:22 pm
by Proper Knob
Have you ever tried placing a band round your knees whilst squatting Ken? I ask because I tried it for the first time today. My girlfriend has been coming to the gym once a week or so with me for a few months now. I make her squat every time. She was having some issues with her knees collapsing, leaning to one side on the ascent, so we tried the band approach a few times. Today I tried it for the first time on my back off set - 10 x 100kgs/220lbs. I was amazed at the difference, I felt very secure with less wobble throughout the squat. It's something I will definitely implement again, worth a shot if you haven't tried it.

Re: Rebuild Squats?

Posted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 7:51 pm
by KenDowns
Phil, I have never tried that. I don't have real bands but I think I can rig something up with the tubes I have. Next squat day is Saturday, I will let you know.

Re: Rebuild Squats?

Posted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 12:41 pm
by KenDowns
Almost forgot about the bands. Was focusing on "both legs" to avoid loading up the right.

After a max effort of 295#, lowered to 225 for some 5x5 and found I could not do them.

Lowered to 185# and in the middle of the second set I remembered the bands and realized I was not thinking "knees out."

So I skipped the bands cuz I was kind of in flow, and discovered getting 5x5 at 185# with two cues, "knees out" and "both legs" was actually quite tough. The knees really wanted to collapse at about rep 4 on each set.

So I think it was productive.

On a side note, I think that I'm mis-using the "chest up" cue to hyperextend my lower back. This seems to be taken care of if I cue myself to a mind-muscle connection on glutes, time will tell.

So I've got three cues I'm thinking now during squats, "knees out", "both legs" and "glutes glutes glutes!".

Anyway, thanks, the band suggestion put knee collapsing into my mind and I got some work done on that.