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How can I work on getting out of the hole in a squat?(28 posts)

How can I work on getting out of the hole in a squat?PODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Nov 13, 2002 9:41 PM
How can I work on getting out of the hole (around 90 degrees in a squat)? This is a definite weakness for me. Doing quarter squats to 75 degrees I can squat 50% more. It makes sense that I can lift more since its a smaller range of motion but not quite that much. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Nick
PodiumBound.ca
Use less weight!!!!PEDDLEFOOT
Nov 14, 2002 4:48 AM
power rackweiwentg
Nov 14, 2002 5:54 AM
if there's a power rack (I think that's what it's called) in the gym, go to that and do the bottom third of your range of motion. there are bars that function as stop limits. you could also do lockouts against the stops at the end of every rep.
if not, just do the bottom third of the range of motion. don't consistently do quarter squats; you don't want to be relatively stronger in one portion of your range than another. you need to get that bottom third up to proportion (I don't think they were ever supposed to be equal, though).
re: How can I work on getting out of the hole in a squat?peloton
Nov 14, 2002 6:46 AM
Someone else refered to a 'power rack'. From the description he or she means the Smith machine. Stay away from this one for squats. On that machine you will either lose lordosis of the back, or create too much shear force on your knees depending on how you do squats on it. Free weights are much better in this case.

Remember when you are lifting that you are only as strong as the weakest point in your range of motion. Coming out of the hole in the squat sounds like your weakest point in the range of motion, and it isn't an uncommon one. Try less weight until you get stronger at that point in your range. Don't just do quarter squats and work on where you are already strong. Work on your weakness by going lighter, and working your way back up.

You could also have some inflexibility or biomechanical issues that are contributing to your difficulties at the bottom of your range of motion. Find someone qualifited to check you out while lifting, and this could also help identify any other factors you have going on complicating your progress.
power rack isn't smith machineweiwentg
Nov 14, 2002 8:58 AM
I wasn't referring to the smith machine (although I probably wasn't clear enough). you use free weights in a power rack, and the power rack is often used for the big 3 (bench press, deadlift and squat).
I agree, though, that machines are not the best for building strength.
use less weight & go slower too ifmarkNc
Nov 14, 2002 6:46 AM
you are getting stuck, might save your back too. I never see the point in doing an exercise half way either(75degree squat). Also suggest after your squats, do several sets of leg presses, and finish off with leg extensions sets. Crawling out of the gym after doing legs is a good thing!
mark
[Insert juvenille, off-color comment here] nm ;)joekm
Nov 14, 2002 7:10 AM
re: How can I work on getting out of the hole in a squat?netso
Nov 14, 2002 8:06 AM
Nick,
Just to reference my answer, I owned a gym for over 20 years, and held the Squat Record @ 813 for awhile. I had this same problem. The Power Rack suggestion is a good one for most people, however it can change your overall form. I used front squats because 1. You went deeper 2. you used less weight 3. Built the necessary muscles. It worked for me and many others that were competitive powerlifters.
Stan
813?peloton
Nov 14, 2002 8:26 AM
813 lbs?! Wow, that's a pretty respectable squat. Remind me not to tick you off. :)

Question for Stan- Complete thread drift here, but maybe you can offer some advice. I'm thinking about sports medicine right now, and schools. Understanding that you taught at a univeristy level, and went to med school, what would you look for in a school? Is there any plan of attack that you wish you knew about years ago in this field? I'm only thinking about it at this point, and chiropractic medicine really interests me, although I understand how this is a little different. Right now I'm a couple credits short of an MS in ex phys. FWIW. Anything that you might offer would be appreciated. Thanks.
813?netso
Nov 14, 2002 9:55 AM
If it was me now, I would shy away from Exercise Physiology. You get paid very little, you usually end up in a health club working for people that know very little.
Chiropractic Medicine, that is a way to go. Normal hours, clean job, Insurance now pays for many cases, limited prescription ability. The other way is to get a Ph.D. in Physiology, and teach in a University. But if I had my druthers I would be a Chiropractor.
On another drift, I would be lucky to do 135 now!
Thanks! (nm)PODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Nov 14, 2002 9:23 AM
First, you gotta get IN the holebrider
Nov 14, 2002 10:53 AM
Nick, going to a 90 degree knee angle isn't "in the hole." Drop some weight off the bar and get DOWN there. Maybe I'm reading your message wrong, and if so, I apologize.

As some one alluded to here, bottom-position rack squats can help, but are a cast-iron b!tch to do.

Front squats will help, and will be less taxing. Box squats can make a big difference, but don't drop down too fast.

A form tip -- Most people hold the bar too far up and don't look up enough. When I get into a pickle in the hole, I make a concerted effort to look up even FARTHER and harder, which will usually get the motion going. Make sure you're in a rack and can safely dump the bar if you're stuck. If you're stuck at the bottom, DON'T have a spotter help you out. Dump the bar. Too much injury potential with a spotter at the bottom position.
First, you gotta get IN the holenetso
Nov 14, 2002 12:00 PM
I had to laugh, a full-squat is a lot different than a 1/2 squat. First, its a lot harder Second, the development is not the same.
Also, you are right - the majority of people place the bar too high. They are afraid its going to fall. Little do they realize it forces the head down, and the butt up to compensate.
re: How can I work on getting out of the hole in a squat?Walter
Nov 14, 2002 12:55 PM
Some good advice all over this thread here for you Nick. I'll second the things I like best but don't see much of anything bad.

Stay away from Smith machines like the plague.

Front squats are an under-used but truly superb exercise. Of the lifts I miss being able to do the most due to my motorcycle accident fr. squats (and the closely related Olympic lifts) are it.

The guy who said "go low" is spot on. I like "pause" squats. Set up a box or something sturdy so that your butt hits it a few inches lower than your normal stopping point When you hit the box stop and have your spotter count out, "one-one thousand" and then start up. Definitely use lighter weight and concentrate form. I'm happy to say that I can muster up a decent squat (605 in judged comp.) and seldom if ever get stuck in the hole. My sticking point is between 1/2 and 2/3 of the way up and if you have advice for me there I'd be happy to hear as I find it intensely frustrating to be able to start but not finish a lift.
Thats interestingPODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Nov 14, 2002 1:04 PM
Its interesting how you have the exact opposite problem as me. Once I'm out of the hole (around 90 degrees since thats all I go to on back squats) I have no problem powering it up. Have you tried quarter squats maybe going down to 75 degrees.

Then do you use the insanely wide stance of powerlifters?

And out of curiousity if you keep your back perpendicular to the floor in a chair can you stand up like that?

Nick
Insanely wide?Walter
Nov 14, 2002 4:14 PM
I squat with a stance wide enough to easily drop my hips straight down. The knees being flared out and "over" your feet is more important than overall width. I used to compete and have seen guys use wider stances and would say mine is about average.

As is pointed out above the wide stance takes stress off your knees which is a good thing.

Yes, pause squats must be done slowly and you should definitely not impact the box or whatever you're using. Btw you don't have to use anything. If you're comfortable just sit there in the hole for the count. Pauses will work the "hole" better than just about anything else but a strong power squat is not necessarily the best thing in the world for cycling.

Thanks for the tips. I use a variety of techniques and since at my age (38)I'm not likely to challenge Netso's impressive RBR record I don't sweat it as much as I used to. The fact is that my motorcycle accident and resulting left arm paralysis keeps me from geting a good "pull" on the bar (I use straps and hooks on that side) so I'll probably not push the 605 much higher. 605 ain't too bad though if I may sound vain for a moment.
Insanely wide?netso
Nov 15, 2002 3:55 AM
I do not know what weight class, but 605# is great by any means. I was an exceptional squatter, my bad llift was the Bench - Yuk!!!!
I'd like to see this test: Take a cat 3 peloton, for examplehrv
Nov 15, 2002 8:33 AM
and pull a guy out at random. My bet is that he could barely squat his weight. Probably not much more than 1/2 their weight. Not a totally valid test if they haven't trained to squat, and maybe I'm way off base. Either way, I'm trying to say 605 is exceptional!

Now, what is in a person's makeup to allow them to squat heavy weights? I know it's not just quads, because I see quys squat large amounts (compared to me) who have pretty spindly looking legs. Super strong back/glutes/hips?

hrv
I'd like to see this test: Take a cat 3 peloton, for examplenetso
Nov 15, 2002 9:59 AM
A lot of strength cannot be defined by muscle alone, it is also governed by the neural sysyem. Such as the speed of neural firing, its efficiency etc. It is also governed by physics. Levers, mechanical advantage etc. Then you have to include techique, and yes experience.
re: How can I work on getting out of the hole in a squat?peloton
Nov 14, 2002 2:26 PM
I would agree with everything that Walter said up until the box squats. I'm not a fan of this exercise, and I'll tell you why. If you are squating down on a box, or what not you put your back at risk. The weight on your shoulders can load your spinal column when your butt contacts the box, particularly in the lumber spine. You can compress a disc, or even cause a disc to slip. This is not something you want to live through. The lighter weight is a good tip on this, because with heavy weight this loading of the spine is pretty big. This is still an exercise you don't want to get into the habit of, even with light weight though. A better idea would be to have your spotter verbally communicate with you when you are low enough.

As for the wide squat of powerlifters, this has some merit too. You reduce anterior shear force on your ACL, which is good for the knees. It also involves the glutes more, and makes heavy weights easier.

Walter- have you tried an isometric lift at your sticking point? Load the bar up real heavy, more than you could lift on a rack at the same level that you usually fail. Try doing some isometric lifts at that height, really try to move the bar. This can help to get you stronger at a weak point, and get you through it. I got this idea from a National team coach/Kinesiology PhD, and it does work. Maybe a plyometric program could help you too if you are at a plateau. Sometimes mixing up the workout will stimulate the muscle to get through things like that.
Box squats and wide stancebrider
Nov 14, 2002 3:09 PM
Just wanted to address a couple things from your post regarding box squats and the wide stance.

First, I added the box squat into the advice with the caveat that the motion is done SLOWLY. The biggest problems with box squats come in hitting the box too hard. You should basically kiss it with your a$$. I've seen people do hard box squats, and I just cringe every time I see it.

Also, with the wider stance, what somes into play are the adductors in a big way. Not something you want to overdevelop for cycling purposes. Sure, you can handle more weight, but that's only important if you're going to get into powerlifting. There's a big difference between BUILDING strength and DEMONSTRATING strength. For cycling, I recommend keeping the stance fairly narrow -- shoulder width or slightly less (and I mean SLIGHTLY). Though the narrowness of the stance can effect how deep you can go aithout rounding the back. This may be why Nick is having problems both getting low and getting out of it.
what's the point?KSC
Nov 14, 2002 4:10 PM
What's so great about "the hole" (in the non-offcolor sense)? Last I checked you're not banging your knees on your chin when you bicycle. I've always heard the deeper you go in a squat the more stress you're putting on your knees, esp parallel to the ground and below.

Anyway, if you're practicing for those powder ski days and want to work that hole, I totally agree with the posters that said just use less weight. I don't see why you need any fancy set up. Lower your weight, get down in that hole, and work your way up in weight as you get stronger like you would any other exercise.

Been doing any bench?? I bet if you only went down 1/4 in the range of motion, you can lift a LOT more weight than if you go all the way down to your chest! Maybe you need to set up some special exercises so you ONLY work that bottom part of the motion when you're doing bench.

I'm sorry, but I think there's a lot of inane advice floating around when it comes to weight training, and much of this thread seems to be no exception. If someone has an MD in this field, and wants to set me straight, I'd love to hear it.
And your experience is?Walter
Nov 14, 2002 4:22 PM
Properly done a squat, even below parallel, should not overly stress your knees. A squat is as much a hip and glute exercise as it is a thigh exercise.

No doubt bad advice is around but I don't see the point in your contribution either though I and others here agree that power squats are not necessarily the most cycling oriented exercise out there. However, the question was about squats not cycling.
And your experience is?peloton
Nov 14, 2002 4:50 PM
I agree- Deep, even full squats when properly done do not place any undue stress on the knees. It is all about doing them right though.

There is also a lot of bad advise around when it comes to strength training, but this thread seems to be decent.

FWIW- Netso is an MD (if I recall correctly), pro bodybuilder, and former gym owner.
Walter is a former competitive lifter
I have a degree in Kinesiology, and a few years of experience training high level athletes, as well as an athletic background of my own.
Nick is a National level trackie, aspiring coach
-I would imagine that there is more experience in this thread than there are on many others you might find on the subject of weight training.

I don't think there has been too much bad advice here, just conversation from different views.
And your experience is?KSC
Nov 14, 2002 5:54 PM
I apologize, the post was unnecessarily confrontational. And you're right, this thread was pretty clean of bad advice, I was just vending on the subject in general.

Given that this is a cycling related board I assummed a connection between the question and cycling. So one point of my post was, you should consider the motivation behind the exercise.

The second was, I have heard from several "professionals" including a sports medicine specialist that deep squats tend to put extra strain on the knees. I know of at least one serious body builder who had to retire due to knee problems developed through the sport, and I'm sure he's not the first. So as a second point, I wanted to note there could be additional injury considerations. Apparently some disagree with the increased injury risk statement.
Squats and kneesPODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Nov 14, 2002 6:52 PM
This is a definite gray area. In some ways it is completely true and in other ways it is completely untrue.

For the average person getting into the weight room yes going to 90 with your knees behind your toes is more than adequete. Theres no real need to go any farther than that.

However, for an advanced weight lifter whether an athlete, body builder, power lifter, olympic lifter or just a really advanced person who lifts weights to stay fit going past 90 isn't a bad thing. Its true you do put extra stain on the ligaments in the knee but you just have to give them a few months to get used to the range of motion since ligaments will strengthen just significantly slower than muscles.

As for the injury side of things. Theres a lot of olympic lifters who catch the weight at the bottom, bounce then come up (far worse than just a squat all the way down) who never have knee problems and they do it till they are 50. But there is the odd person that does and this is who you hear about and this can be said for any sport. Because someone blows out their knee in football, soccer or hockey does that mean everyone should refrain from doing it? Because people have torn their ACL using X brand pedals does that mean people should never use them? Not at all... so why all the paranoia about squats?

Cheers,
Nick
PodiumBound.ca
Squats and kneesnetso
Nov 15, 2002 3:57 AM
I did squats for over 40 years (heavy), with absolutely no knee problems!
From someone with bad kneeshrv
Nov 15, 2002 8:21 AM
After many sports injuries my knees are basically toast. Against my orthopedic surgeon's advice I still do squats (leg press too). I find that I need to do squats more now or I lose my quad muscle strength, which I doubly need now, quickly. The only time my knees hurt with squats is if I do them after a long ride with a lot of climbing (duh!). The one thing I have to do though in addition to a 10 min. spin before lifting is do a few reps with lighter weights to warm up before I work on multiple reps with my target weight.

Tried going below 90 last night after reading this post. The burn felt great! Of course I'm using such light weight it's laughable. Start MS phase in a couple of weeks; 90 will be just fine then.

hrv