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S&C UnderGround >> Tall athletes, squats, glute engagement -HELP


1/15/13 8:53 AM
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dc1000
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as some of you know i've had troubles with squats for a while. my first serious attempts at squat training was doing high bar back squats and front squats. it didn't go well.

then i switched to rippetoe style low bar. the weight went up (345 1RM) but in order to really move that weight i realized my form had evolved (devolved) into more of a squat morning, where my hips would go up first and then come through.

then i went back to the olympic lifting/coaching and they hated the form and moved me back to front squats and high bar, theoretically to assist in squats and clean/jerk which are our main movements (obviously).

now my diet, sleep, supplements, everything, has been dialed in to the point that i am continually PR'ing in deadlift (435), snatch (170), clean and jerk (230)...but my squat is still FUCKED

recent front squat PR was 230 (done in a clean and jerk!). recent back squat was 260. but it is even worse, when I go to multiple reps, it just degrades quickly. could barely do a set of five at 205 the other day.

it is incredibly depressing when I do a split jerk x 3 @ 220lbs but can't rep that out in a front squat.

in the clean and jerk my front squat is the limiting factor.

my flexibility is great, they call my gumby at the gym (years of muay thai and yoga).

i squat full depth

but when I get full depth i feel all mushy. like there is no power to drive anything out of the hole.

now if i squat to parallel, i feel tight, powerful, and things are easier.

but coaches insist, INSIST on full depth.

i am 6'4 with long legs.

i've read articles on training for tall athletes but nothing has helped.

i'm writing to a) vent and b) hope to get some advice that will help me.

when i'm at full depth and my ass is on my calves there is just no way to generate real power without first lifting my hips. but when i do that i lean forward and you know the rest.

it is just pure mush at the bottom even though i "stay right". "keep chest up" "push knees out". feet are slightly more than shoulder width pointed at about 45 degrees.

its as if my glutes and everything back there completely disengage. they lose all tension.

any advice???

thanks in advance
1/15/13 2:24 PM
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LiftStrong
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Usually folding during a squat and having it turn into an RDL is a sign of weak abs or upper back. Considering you have a pretty solid C&J and Deadlift that might not be the case for you though.

You might just need to get more comfortable deep in the hole and work on developing explosive power from a deeper position. I would suggest some combination of pause squats, low box speed squats and/or jump squats. Pause squats should really help you work on staying tight in your glutes and hamstrings at the bottom.
1/15/13 2:51 PM
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orcus
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"then i switched to rippetoe style low bar. the weight went up (345 1RM) but in order to really move that weight i realized my form had evolved (devolved) into more of a squat morning, where my hips would go up first and then come through."

Isn't that basically how Rip does it?

 

1/15/13 2:53 PM
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The Gunslinger
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There are a lot of things that it could be, so without seeing it, I'm making an educated guess at best.

Sounds to me like you are suffering from a common tall guy problem of losing upper back tightness. It could also be hamstring weakness, your hamstrings don't pull your body up causing you to roll forward, you probably end up with weight on your toes and you fold. If this sounds like the case I would hit it from 2 angles.

1. You have to work to maintain a more upright posture in your squat. You can never compromise this, if you lose it your lift is over. You've hit failure.
No amount up upper back work fixes this because it is an issue of strength combined with the flexibility, which you can only fix by doing the exercise. Even if you are flexible it doesn't mean that you are able to be flexible and hold tension at the same time. The best way to work on it is to squat and not allow it to happen.

I would do both front and back squats. For back squats I would do the 20 rep program. Start with a weight you can do for sure perfectly with no problems. Usually this will be around 70%, but you might have to do less. Hit 20 reps once a week without setting the bar down. Keep each rep perfect and treat each rep as a single(again without setting the bar down). Add 10lbs each time you get your 20. Eventually you'll have to go down to 5's but you want to add 10 whenever you can. If you miss 20, stay at the same weight and get it the next week. Overtime with the number of reps you'll slowly strengthen and mobilize the problem areas, as long as you don't compromise form.

For front squats, also hit higher reps 2-3 sets of 10. This makes you hold the rack position for a longer period of time vs. doing lower reps and setting it down as quickly as possible. Again, don't compromise the upper back, if it folds it is a no rep. Slowly build up the front squat 5lbs at a time. I assume since you do oly lifts that you use the rack position and not the useless cross armed style. I'm certain that Kelly Starrett has some good info on perfecting mobility for the rack position. This will carry over to your back squat as well.

Last work on hamstring strength. I like RDL's and GHR's mostly. No secret, build them up over time, combined with practicing good squat technique and you should see improvement. If you do RDL's make sure you use straps as it makes an entirely different exercise than when you don't.
1/16/13 11:17 AM
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dc1000
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orcus - 

"then i switched to rippetoe style low bar. the weight went up (345 1RM) but in order to really move that weight i realized my form had evolved (devolved) into more of a squat morning, where my hips would go up first and then come through."

Isn't that basically how Rip does it?

 


i'm going way deeper than that, he barely hits parallel most of the time.

but i think before my hips were coming up even more than that before i ended up goodmorninging the weight
1/16/13 11:21 AM
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dc1000
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http://vimeo.com/56046743

that is me doing C&J at :20 (beard). you can see pretty much the problem there with my hips coming up too soon and my body leaning forward in the front squat. if i dont do that little bit, i can't power out of the hole.
1/16/13 11:25 AM
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dc1000
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The Gunslinger - There are a lot of things that it could be, so without seeing it, I'm making an educated guess at best.

Sounds to me like you are suffering from a common tall guy problem of losing upper back tightness. It could also be hamstring weakness, your hamstrings don't pull your body up causing you to roll forward, you probably end up with weight on your toes and you fold. If this sounds like the case I would hit it from 2 angles.

1. You have to work to maintain a more upright posture in your squat. You can never compromise this, if you lose it your lift is over. You've hit failure.
No amount up upper back work fixes this because it is an issue of strength combined with the flexibility, which you can only fix by doing the exercise. Even if you are flexible it doesn't mean that you are able to be flexible and hold tension at the same time. The best way to work on it is to squat and not allow it to happen.

I would do both front and back squats. For back squats I would do the 20 rep program. Start with a weight you can do for sure perfectly with no problems. Usually this will be around 70%, but you might have to do less. Hit 20 reps once a week without setting the bar down. Keep each rep perfect and treat each rep as a single(again without setting the bar down). Add 10lbs each time you get your 20. Eventually you'll have to go down to 5's but you want to add 10 whenever you can. If you miss 20, stay at the same weight and get it the next week. Overtime with the number of reps you'll slowly strengthen and mobilize the problem areas, as long as you don't compromise form.

For front squats, also hit higher reps 2-3 sets of 10. This makes you hold the rack position for a longer period of time vs. doing lower reps and setting it down as quickly as possible. Again, don't compromise the upper back, if it folds it is a no rep. Slowly build up the front squat 5lbs at a time. I assume since you do oly lifts that you use the rack position and not the useless cross armed style. I'm certain that Kelly Starrett has some good info on perfecting mobility for the rack position. This will carry over to your back squat as well.

Last work on hamstring strength. I like RDL's and GHR's mostly. No secret, build them up over time, combined with practicing good squat technique and you should see improvement. If you do RDL's make sure you use straps as it makes an entirely different exercise than when you don't.


"you probably end up with weight on your toes and you fold"

you are right. i have trouble staying back on my heels once the weight gets up there. low weight, no problem.

thanks for the good post
1/16/13 1:49 PM
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LiftStrong
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dc1000 - http://vimeo.com/56046743

that is me doing C&J at :20 (beard). you can see pretty much the problem there with my hips coming up too soon and my body leaning forward in the front squat. if i dont do that little bit, i can't power out of the hole.

Looking at the video, from the very start you are leaned way over the bar. First thing I would fix is your starting position. You need to sit back and get your hips down a bit lower from the start. Try to have close to a straight line down from your shoulders through your arms to the bar. When you have the bar up to knee level, you are still very far over top of the bar. And when you are starting the second pull it looks like the bar is a good 6-8 inches away from your body (this could just be the angle on the video making it look that way). So By fixing the starting position, you could correct the balance.

Would you happen to have video of you doing a rep with lighter weight? It could be weakness in your posterior chain or it could just be that you need to get more comfortable with your hips back and driving through your heels.

On a side note, does your coach really emphasize the bounce of the thighs before the second pull? Looks like quite a few people were practically decelerating the bar to bounce off of their thigh before beginning the second pull.
1/16/13 2:52 PM
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dc1000
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LiftStrong - 
dc1000 - http://vimeo.com/56046743

that is me doing C&J at :20 (beard). you can see pretty much the problem there with my hips coming up too soon and my body leaning forward in the front squat. if i dont do that little bit, i can't power out of the hole.

Looking at the video, from the very start you are leaned way over the bar. First thing I would fix is your starting position. You need to sit back and get your hips down a bit lower from the start. Try to have close to a straight line down from your shoulders through your arms to the bar. When you have the bar up to knee level, you are still very far over top of the bar. And when you are starting the second pull it looks like the bar is a good 6-8 inches away from your body (this could just be the angle on the video making it look that way). So By fixing the starting position, you could correct the balance.

Would you happen to have video of you doing a rep with lighter weight? It could be weakness in your posterior chain or it could just be that you need to get more comfortable with your hips back and driving through your heels.

On a side note, does your coach really emphasize the bounce of the thighs before the second pull? Looks like quite a few people were practically decelerating the bar to bounce off of their thigh before beginning the second pull.

that was a one rep max attempt there so the form is definitely not as good as it usually is.

i usually hit the jumping position pretty good, i dont think the bar was that far away from my when i started the pull. now it might have drifted away from me as i went through it though.

wrt to weakness in the posterior chain - i thought that but then 435lb deadlift? i tried to argue that i might need accessory work on glutes and hams but they countered with the nice pull number which is mean to be all posterior chain, right?

and yeah, they do emphasize hitting the jumping position hard but they would always say to accelerate through there not to slow down.

1/16/13 4:03 PM
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LiftStrong
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Good stuff. My technique goes by the wayside sometimes going for maxes also. You have a nice catch, my only thought was on that rep in particular a forward lean in going into the catch would leave you on your toes and bent forward before you even try squatting it back up. Could easily have been the angle the vid was shot at.

435 is a good deadlift, no doubt. But you could can still deadlift heavy and have weakness in your glutes and hams (I know I do). Remember, when you are deadlifting your ass isnt starting out below parallel (think about the ROM). I would work on some front squat pause sets personally. Gunslinger also had some good advice.
1/17/13 7:24 AM
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dc1000
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Took a video this morning. Will post it later once I figure it out.

Not much better. Low weight today too 185lb. Phone Post
1/18/13 11:11 AM
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dc1000
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9N8HLMA03Y

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9N8HLMA03Y
1/19/13 7:30 AM
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ash1
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Are you an Olympic weightlifter? I.E. is that your sport?
1/19/13 9:37 AM
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dc1000
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ash1 - Are you an Olympic weightlifter? I.E. is that your sport?
At the moment it is my primary athletic activity. Amateur Muay Thai fighter for severally years prior though

Today's squats were a little better. I tried stopping at parallel and things felt much tighter but coach insisted I go down all the way. As she correctly pointed out, we are doing these as accessories to our cleans and snatches during which we will be a full depth. Phone Post

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