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  • Squat technique

    Hey,

    I've known the squat technique as it was described in Mark Rippetoe's book.
    Point is, it sort of contradicts the instructions in the following post:
    The Missing Link: Movement as a Skill | Mark's Daily Apple

    Especially the parts about the knees' movement, and the position of the feet.

    In Mark's book, as far as I can recall, they point out that the knees could move past your toes in the end of the movement. Whereas in the aforementioned post, it is forbidden.

    Furthermore, the feet's stance. If I try to squat with my feet in a 5-12 degree angle (pretty much straight), it feels really odd. Probably because my knees are sort of weird (a little to the side). Whereas the bigger angle (almost 45 degrees, as depicted in Mark's book, If I'm not mistaken of course), feels much more comfortable.

    What's the right way?

  • #2
    This is related to another thread, but the Becoming a Supple Leopard book talks about this early on. Kelly believes that many of us squat with larger foot angles because of other issues, and he'd prefer people squat with a more neutral stance. He also says it's more difficult for many people to squat if neutral and it takes work to become effective in that more neutral stance. I just read that chapter last night, but I'm going to play around with it at the gym tonight.

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    • #3
      Yeah, my understanding (and I'm by no means an expert) is that ideally, you would squat with your toes almost pointing forward, but many people can't do this. For those who can't get into a deep squat in that position, it's better to turn your feet out and get into a deep squat rather than keep your toes pointed forward and manage only a half squat.

      My journal

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      • #4
        I never understood why some people recommend keeping your toes straight, or almost straight during a squat. When your toe is at a different angle than your knee, there's a twisting force applied to the knee via the ankle, through the tibia. I have no idea why this could be a good thing, especially if you are doing heavy barbell squats.

        As far as knee going past the toes, that's also something that doesn't quite make sense. Suppose you have two guys, both 6 feet tall. They have identical proportions, i.e. the same tibia, femur, torso, etc. lengths. If they both squat to the same depth correctly, should their body angles look the same? Of course. Well, what if one guy has a size 12 foot, and the other a size 9 foot? Should their bodies now squat differently because of foot size? Doesn't make much sense, does it?

        The key thing with knee vs. toe position, at least in a low-bar squat, is that the knee position reaches its maximum forward travel in the first 1/2 of the squat, and stays there. However, where the knee ends up depends on your proportions, for some it might be behind the toes, for others it might be a few inches past the toes, neither is incorrect as long as the position was reached in the first part of the descent.

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        • #5
          Thanks for the comments, certainly helped me get things straight.

          It's interesting though, since our intuition will tell us that if something is uncomfortable, it's probably bad (and vice versa). But looking at those comments, and some previous thoughts I had, it seems to depend.

          it seems to be something quite debatable.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Drlove View Post
            it seems to be something quite debatable.
            What's a good reason to squat with feet pointing straight, especially with heavy weight? Unless someone can bring up a good argument, I don't think it's debatable at all.

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            • #7
              Once you open your legs so that your feet are apart, don't your feet automatically point a little outward? I can't see how on earth you can keep your feet pointing straight unless your feet are together. That would make for a very odd squat position.
              Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by quikky View Post
                What's a good reason to squat with feet pointing straight, especially with heavy weight? Unless someone can bring up a good argument, I don't think it's debatable at all.
                Because if Kelly is right, the feet pointing straight position is safest (because you wouldn't want to lift heavy weights, having that problem preventing you from keeping your feet pointing straight at the first place) and should generate the most power once you get used to it.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Drlove View Post
                  Because if Kelly is right, the feet pointing straight position is safest (because you wouldn't want to lift heavy weights, having that problem preventing you from keeping your feet pointing straight at the first place) and should generate the most power once you get used to it.
                  I think quikky's point is that he can't understand how using stored elastic energy that results from creating torque on the knee ligaments can be argued, even by the estimable Dr. Starrett, to be safer than not creating torque on the knee ligaments

                  I remember watching the MobilityWOD video where he advocates the toes pointing forward, and it doesn't address this issue from a biomechanics standpoint (at least not intelligibly). Maybe the book does. Maybe nobody's directly asked Dr. Starrett the question. But until he convinces me from a physics perspective (rather than an appeal to authority) that this is better/safer, I'm going to stick with keeping my toes pointed out more, with my knees tracking over them.

                  That all said, I think K-Star's a mad genius, and I hope the Supple Leopard book gets Kindle-ized, because I there's probably a million things in there that could help me out.
                  The Champagne of Beards

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by sbhikes View Post
                    Once you open your legs so that your feet are apart, don't your feet automatically point a little outward? I can't see how on earth you can keep your feet pointing straight unless your feet are together. That would make for a very odd squat position.
                    K-Star says 5-12 degrees, Rippetoe says ~30. To me, it's a question of whether it's a good idea to create elastic energy in the knee ligaments to help rebound out of the bottom of the squat. Rippetoe has addressed this directly, and (I'll admit, despite my fear of being called a Rippetoe nutswinger) to me, convincingly. K-Star hasn't, but I'm not sure anybody's actually asked him to.
                    The Champagne of Beards

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RichMahogany View Post
                      K-Star says 5-12 degrees, Rippetoe says ~30. To me, it's a question of whether it's a good idea to create elastic energy in the knee ligaments to help rebound out of the bottom of the squat. Rippetoe has addressed this directly, and (I'll admit, despite my fear of being called a Rippetoe nutswinger) to me, convincingly. K-Star hasn't, but I'm not sure anybody's actually asked him to.
                      It wasn't until I started squatting as Rippetoe described in starting strength that I was able to squat more than 400lbs. I *used* to squat in powerlifting with an extremely wide stance and it was easy'ish to lift heavy weights. However, for whatever reason, I couldn't activate my glutes enough to come up out of the hole when I went above about 380. I then moved my stance closer and tried the feet forward thing, and that didn't work for shit but I could tell that I was using more of my posterior chain (namely my ass) when I stopped briefly at the bottom and forced back up. Finally I tried Rip's suggestion of narrow stance, 30 deg foot placement AND looking down and it all clicked. I felt it in my hip flexors the most but it got me off the plateau I was at and it worked for me.
                      I don't lift that heavy anymore just because I don't feel the need, but I still use the technique with a 2-3 second rest pause at the bottom with an explosive lift for high reps (20) and it has helped my sprinting endurance a whole helluva lot.
                      People too weak to follow their own dreams will always try to discourage others.

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