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  • Help with squat form

    I've been doing a lot of air squats lately and I just can't seem to get my form right. When I watch the video on the crossfit website I can see that they are keeping their backs straight and upright when they squat, but I seem to lean way forward when I squat. My back is still straight, but I'm not in an upright position. It's like I'm bending at my waist AND at my hips. I've tried holding my arms up, out to the sides, and straight in front of me, but none of that has helped. When I try to stay upright during the squat I can feel some tightness in my lower back, but I'm paranoid about injuring myself and I'm not sure if that's supposed to happen.

    One problem that I do have is a pretty significant Diastasis Recti from pregnancy. My husband wonders if I can't keep correct form because my ab muscles are weak from the Diastasis Recti. I'm getting this fixed with surgery in March, but I don't want to have to stop doing squats until then. How can I keep my upper half from leaning forward when I squat? And would my Diastasis Recti make my ab muscles too weak to keep the correct form?

  • #2
    You need a lot of mobility and flexibility to squat. Try practising with body-weight squats. You can put a broom handle on your back or hold it above your head to help you stretch out. There are a lot of resources to improve mobility and flexibility in the squat including this site. I have also been reading Gray Cook's book and he has a lot of functional moves to improve body balance and exercise performance.
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    • #3
      I have a hard time because the backs of my heels aren't very flexible yet. Avoiding shoes with heels in everyday life and squatting with your heels lifted, like with your heels on weight plates, can help you get your weight in your heels, which might help with the other stuff.
      Last edited by elainevdw; 01-29-2012, 09:59 AM.
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      • #4
        I tried holding a broom over my head and it helped a lot, I can definitely feel it. I wasn't able to do nearly as many squats, but at least I'm doing them with better form. I'm still leaning forward a bit, but not nearly as much. I'll try elevating my heals also to see if that helps. I started to be a little obsessive about form when I exercise lately because If I'm going to do something I want to make sure I'm doing it right!

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        • #5
          leaning forward, assuming your back is straight, isn't necessarily a problem at this point. that natural curve to your spine must remain, it's good that you know that. but when you're doing air squats, you really want to focus on initiating the movement with your hips, i.e. "ass back" first. you can almost think of it as 'pulling' your body back and down into the squat, leading with your ass. don't start with your knees, that's the key.

          hip mobility and ankle mobility are what needs to be developed in the beginning. hell, throughout your squatting career!

          also, i would try goblet squats before overhead squats, if you're trying to perfect your form.
          Last edited by jakey; 01-29-2012, 10:22 PM. Reason: punctuation

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          • #6
            I'm struggling with this as well. Someone had mentioned to stand a foot away from a wall, put your palms flat against the wall and up high, and squat down without letting your hands leave the wall, that should be good form i'm told.

            I've been trying the broom handle thing but I struggle to keep it vertical above my head after shoulder surgery which restricts me moving my arm back too far.
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            • #7
              Back angle has everything to due with loaded squats. If you are just doing air/unloaded squats, you aren't going to injure yourself (or i should say it's unlikely). If you are practicing form for a specific type of loaded squat, then you need to worry about back angle.

              It's all about load/middle of foot alignment. (tracking vertically)..

              Angle
              Last edited by Fernaldo; 01-30-2012, 04:09 PM.
              "The problem with quoting someone on the Internet is, you never know if it's legit" - Abraham Lincoln

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              • #8
                I'm just wanting to do the squat correctly so that I get the most out of the movement. I saw that the girls on the crossfit video had their back straight and in an upright position and I lean over a lot so I thought I'd try to do the squat the way they do, which I assumed was the correct way. I'm not trying to get into competitions or anything lol. I guess I'm just a bit of a perfectionist.

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                • #9
                  Again, correct position for what? In crossfit, they are going to be doing barbell squats, and depending on front, high or low back, they will have a different back position. Back position only really matters when you have a barbell in your hands.
                  "The problem with quoting someone on the Internet is, you never know if it's legit" - Abraham Lincoln

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                  • #10
                    Maybe you could try to place more weight on your heels. I know Westerners squat on the balls of their feet, but the Asian squat is based on the heel. Practice walking around with your toes off the ground and on your heel maybe? Also, I second the person who said that hip and ankle flexibility makes up a lot of it. Good for you for trying those overhead squats - they're the best for helping you mobilize those areas.
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Fernaldo View Post
                      Again, correct position for what? In crossfit, they are going to be doing barbell squats, and depending on front, high or low back, they will have a different back position. Back position only really matters when you have a barbell in your hands.
                      I'm just talking about air squats (bodyweight squats?) for now, go to the crossfit site and look at the air squats exercise video. Until I can do them correctly I don't plan on doing anything with weights.

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                      • #12
                        How does this guys back angle look?

                        Rip on Squats
                        "The problem with quoting someone on the Internet is, you never know if it's legit" - Abraham Lincoln

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                        • #13
                          This will sound silly at first, but may help you learn where you should end up at the bottom of your range of motion...try Mark's "Grok Squat" and just sit in the down position for a while (several seconds), rock back and forth a little, get the feel for what it's like in that stationary position, and then stand up. If you just concentrate on getting down into a comfortable position to "squat" in for a while, you may feel more confident when doing squat reps. I think you'll find your back moving into a nuetral position and you may also get a better feel for how wide your stance should be.

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                          • #14
                            Thanks for the video, it made more sense than the crossfit video did. I'll try the Grok Squat, I did read somewhere that it's a good idea to start out at the bottom or end of the movement and get comfortable in that position before you move on to the full movement. It's probably silly to worry about it when doing work outs at home, but I want to do it right.

                            Thanks everyone!

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                            • #15
                              Thanks for this, Erin! I've been browsing around for the same information - I think it will be quite a while before I'm ready for weighted squats and I don't want months of bad habits screwing me up later!
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