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How to Squat?(12 posts)

How to Squat?werdna
Nov 25, 2002 4:36 PM
Can someone explain to me how to squat? If you know of a website with pictures that would be great. My questions are:

1) How far to bend your quads?
2) Where exactly do you pivot? At your ankles or knees or both?

re: How to Squat?werdna
Nov 25, 2002 4:37 PM
Oh, and what does a weight belt do? How do you use one? And should I use one?

re: How to Squat?peloton
Nov 25, 2002 4:50 PM
You can check out for some info on squating, and some moving images of proper squat footage.

The next thing that I would encourage you to do is to get a qualified trainer to teach you how to squat. That way you will be sure that you are performing the exercise safely, and to max benefits. Look for someone who is National Strength and Conditioning Association CSCS cert, or someone with American College of Sports Exercise for best results (lots of unqualified trainers out there, basically).

These two resources should get you on your way, and make sure you get good results.
Weight belts discredited...peter1
Nov 26, 2002 7:15 AM
You might want to search the Web for the latest thinking on weight belts. Apparently they don't do what they're supposed to do, which is prevent strain on your lower back. I used to use one but just this morning threw it away. I'm going to try my best to use really good technique whilst squatting (wow that sounded scatalogical!)

Although I note that powerlifters still use the belts. Please don't take my advice as gospel. I don't want to be responsible for a slipped disc. Just do a bit of research, if you can.

From my experiencePODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Nov 26, 2002 5:43 PM
Weight belts may not help prevent back injuries but I'm not sure if this was with power lifters or just your average person off the street. Anyway what I find a weight belt does is help stabilize your core since you should contract your abs so it pulls you back. From my experience this makes a stronger connection to your legs which allows you to lift more. Either way I've been lifting without one.

re: How to Squat?AFrizzledFry
Nov 25, 2002 6:39 PM
pictures? i'll do you one better. video.

re: How to Squat?MikeBu
Nov 26, 2002 8:24 AM
Some rules of thumb for squatting:

Place bar on the back top of your shoulders and squeeze your shoulder blades towards each other so that your chest sticks out. You should be able to find a spot where the bar fits nicely and you don't have to use a pad on the bar.

When you descend start the movement by moving your hips backwards and down. It is somewhat like sitting in a chair. You don't want to start the movement by moving your knees forward. Yes your knees will move forward slightly as you descend but you don't want them out past your shoes. You weight should be centered on the heel of your foot.

Descend until your thighs go below parallel. And then start your movement up. Try not to bounce when you do this.

Breathing can be somewhat difficult but inhale on the way down and then try to exhale going up. You may find yourself holding your breath a bit going up.

Do this in a squat rack and have someone spot you if you are new to this. Position the squat rack so that if you can't finish a rep you down descend and leave the bar resting in the squat rack.

Also try to push yourself when you do your set. Your legs are very strong so pushing them to failure can be hard but you should always ask yourself if you can do another rep before you stop the set.
re: How to Squat?brider
Nov 26, 2002 8:50 AM
MikeBu had a good start to the description, but left some things out. I'll start from the beginning.

When you pull the bar from the rack, it should be placed in the groove in the delts and rhomboids. In order to find it, you pull your shoulderblades back and down. The bar should settle into that groove nicely. If you feel pressure on your neck vertebrae, you most likely have the bar too high. Hands should be narrow enought that your elbows are right at your sides.

Walk out of the supports, and settle in your stance. You should have your feet approximately shoulder width, and splayed to about a 45 degree angle (that meaning 45-degrees between your feet, not each foot at 45 degrees). Before you start the descent, look up slightly. The lower back tends to mimic what the upper back (your neck) is doing. You want to keep your back arched somewhat, and to do that, you keep your head up. NEVER look at the floor.

Start your descent from the hips and sit down naturally. You will get some forward lean, but it's important to remeber that the key element of the squat is getting your HIPS low, not getting the bar low. Go as low as you can WITHOUT ROUNDING YOUR BACK. For some people, that's thighs-parallel-to-the-floor, for some it's lower. Myself, I'm at ass-to-calves. This is what's called being "in the hole". Work on hip (lower back, usually) and ankle flexibility to increase the comfortable depth you can manage. Make this descent slow and in control. NEVER let ligament tension be what stops your descent.

Pause at the bottom, and press up. DON'T bounce to get the motion going. Make sure you get a smooth motion on the way up. If your hips tend to rise first, make a more concerted effort to look up.

As for belts -- Only if you're doing heavy singles or are taking a set to failure. Using a belt regularly tends to make you rely on the belt for intrathoracic pressure instead of the transverse abdominus. make sure you're getting the FULL benefit of squats by not using a belt regularly.

Hope that helps.

For some good pictorials, go to Cyberpump and look for the series of pictures on the squat. There's also a great video clip of Ken Leistner doing a set of 23 reps with 407 lbs (this is a small guy, 165 lbs). You can also check Fred Hatfield's site for some more info and pictures.
re: How to Squat?cincy1
Nov 26, 2002 9:11 AM
Lots of good advice has been offered. My two cents: Make sure you have good shoes. Squatting with running shoes that have no arch support and roll like crazy will not help your form or your knees/arches. I lifted for many years in sturdy work boots. Addidas also makes an excellent weightlifting shoe (Ironworks).

Other: Make sure your hamstrings and your achilles tendons have been stretched before you start your sets. You will be able to get to a better position if you have flexibility in these areas.

Good luck.
Nov 26, 2002 12:59 PM
Good call on the work boots. Be aware, however, that a high heel lift (relatively speaking), while it places more of the load on the quads (good), also dramatically increases the shearing forces in the knee (bad). Keep the heel lift to a minimum -- zero if you can do it). I use wrestling shoes. Many people go barefoot (not allowed in most commercial gyms).
Olympic lifting shoes have a liftPODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Nov 26, 2002 5:46 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong. It may increase the sheering forces on your knee but if you ease into weight training properly and have at least about a year of heavy lifting under your belt your ligaments should be strengthened enough to take the abuse. Don't forget for the "average" person your knees should be behind your toes, you should stay above 90 degrees... lalalalalalalalalal. Absolutely true for the average joe but cycling alone strengthens the ligaments in the knees.

Olympic lifting shoes have a liftbrider
Nov 27, 2002 7:57 AM
Very true, however the back squat is not an olympic lift. A closer variation would be a clean grip front squat or overhead squat. And a heel lift can make these lifts a lot easier (again, with the increased shear forces).

Also, there really isn't a relationship between the detrimental effects of the shearing forces and ligament damage. Ligament damage comes from bouncing against the ligament tension at the bottom of the lift (or from collapsing the knee inward or outward against a direction the knee wasn't designed to move). Shearing forces tend to cause problems with the cartilege in the knee.