View Full Version : Getting down in the hole, when squatting

Emil Nielsen
11-20-2008, 05:06 AM

I have a problem regarding my squat form, im unable to get deep (breaking parallel) when squatting. I know i have the flexibilty in hips and hams. When i sit all the way down supporting with my hands behind my back i get down with no problem. But when doing it freestanding i get stuck around parallel leaning very much forward. It really bothers me, I have a friend teaching me the o-lifts but i cant progress without being able to squat properly.

Hope someone has some ideas, i have been stucked like this for 3 months. In the start i was unable to deadlift as well but that is no problem now.

Best Regards

Brian DeGennaro
11-20-2008, 06:41 AM
Try a counterbalance: hold a 5lb-25lb plate in front of you while you squat, focusing on staying upright and going ass-to-ankles. Other than that, just force yourself into the hole while holding onto a pole, chair, door, etcetera, and sit there, opening up the hips and ankles.

John Filippini
11-20-2008, 06:50 AM
I'm still a super-rookie too, so take this for what it's worth, but how is your calf flexibility?

The way I'm picturing what you're talking about, it sounds like when you do free-standing squats you're leaning really far forward to compensate for the fact that your knees aren't coming far forward enough. With your knees staying back and your shins staying relatively verticle, your hips would stay farther back than you want for an olympic squat. Keeping your back upright might then cause your balance to be way too far backward, unless you could lean on something. The shear angle of your torso when you compensate and the position of your knees would however get in the way of you getting deeper into the squat.

Does this sound familiar, or am I way off base?

Emil Nielsen
11-20-2008, 07:03 AM
About holding weight, I have tried that and im still stuck.

It could easily be ankle flexibility. Im also considering missing muscle activation.
When i Zercher Squat im really tight in the core section which helps a bit. Any ideas for stretching and maybe som muscle activation work?

Steven Low
11-20-2008, 12:19 PM
Sit down in the hole with a rounded back. Make sure you have a pole in front of you, grab it and then go into good squat form position. Will rape every muscles in your hip area if you're not flexible. (what Brian said.. that you didn't do)

Basically a forced "asian"/deep squat.

Also, watch all of the "squat rx" vids on youtube.

Emil Nielsen
11-20-2008, 01:57 PM
I will try working the asian squat and some ankle flexibility maybe thats the problem. I will get back with the progress.

Chris H Laing
11-23-2008, 04:17 PM
I read somewhere (dont really remember where-it might have been t-nation, so take this for what its worth) that sometimes when people can't get into the bottom of a squat, its not because of flexibility, but because of instability.

I'm not really sure how to work on stability, but you could probably do the forced asian squat thing, and then try to let go of the pole or whatever, and hold the position for as long as possible, or hold onto the pole and keep perfect form going up and down to get more associated with the movement.

I had a lot of problems with airsquats a while back, but then i did SS for a month and a half, and now I no longer have those problems, so im thinking it might have been strength that was holding me back.

Grissim Connery
11-23-2008, 05:00 PM
i'm with the asian/third world squat totally, but i feel the best way to go about it is to grease the grove with it. at least 5 times a day, get down and hold the squat for at least a minute. it should hardly take any effort. your goal is to just chill out down there. imagine talkin with your friends and then just drifting down into the third world squat. if you think you could get down comfortably and afterwards hold it so comfortably that your friends wouldn't even think twice about the fact that you're now squatting on the ground, then you're probably in good shape. (in all actuality, your friends are probably gonna wonder what the hell you're doing no matter what. you should probably get new friends, ones that will squat down with you)

i also like do a lot of toe balances and lunges. generally i will get down in a third world squat, chill out for a min, then bring one foot in so that my heel is both under my groind and off the ground. i'll then support my weight on this foot so that i can freely pull in the other foot and hit a toe balance. then i'll start walking around on the ground. one foot will take a long step while all my weight rests on a toe balanced leg. i'll transfer my weight between legs. throughout all this i will stop at third world squats an toe balances. if at any time your knee feels bad or wonky, you're probably not in a proper position on your joints. your knees should not feel pressure and especially no torque. if your ankle flexors get tired, you need to focus on pulling your heels towards your asscrack. people call this duck walking. it great for building stability in a low-level position.

my goal is to make the transition between heel support and forefoot support smooth. that way you can easily have the coordination switching between times when you need to be on your heels (for lifting) or balls of your feet (for fighting or what not).

a lot of this is balance and a lot of people seem to forget to emphasize this with stretching. your muscle may be able to relax enough to get into a position, but you gotta have the coordination and control to manipulate that muscle when you're in that exaggerated position. thus comes balance.

Emil Nielsen
11-30-2008, 03:04 PM
I have now implemented the recommendations for some time, third world squat, toe balance, lunges. Plus tons of stretching/mobility for the ankles and calves. With very good results and its definietly the right way to go. My only problem now is some pain in the groin/hip flexor or some where else around that area :) My feet really want to be very narrow (more than acceptable) and then pushing the knees. Example would be trying to do box squats with feet pointing and a very wide stance im not even close to parallel and my hips is screaming. Any ideas what that could be? :)

Thanks for the help!

Greg Everett
11-30-2008, 08:42 PM
Can you post a photo of the position you're describing? I'm not sure I understand.

Emil Nielsen
12-01-2008, 01:39 PM

1. This position no pain at all in the hip joint. But its a way to narrow stance.

2. Second position, a little pain especially when tracking my knees to the side.

3. Third postion im stopping long before parallel my hips just hurt like shit.

I have personally considered tight internal rotation, but i have stretched for some time and there is no real progress.

Hope this gives a better picture.

Grissim Connery
12-01-2008, 03:40 PM
i think you could stand to turn your feet outward more. if your hips hurt, this should make the bottom position easier to hit.

if i wake up and first thing in the morning try to hit a third world squat, my toes point way outward. if i wake up more and get looser throughout the day or just stretch/do joint mobility for a while, then i can drop down and point my toes more forward. i tend to find it harder to point the toes straighter when i'm not holding a weight though.

generally i feel like the goal is to find the spot where it's not uncomfortable and doesn't hurt. if your feet need to turn out at this point to feel comfortable then go for it. after a little while, all the little muscle groups will relax and loosen a bit. you will probably be able to bring the toes in more at that point. it's all just practicing. crawl before you walk, and crawl a lot to get it down.

Greg Everett
12-02-2008, 12:01 PM
Odd. That second position is about where I would set you up in terms of width, but like Grissam said, I would turn your feet out a bit more. It may be something to take to a physical therapist who is familiar with lifting.

Chris H Laing
12-02-2008, 02:07 PM
Odd. That second position is about where I would set you up in terms of width, but like Grissam said, I would turn your feet out a bit more. It may be something to take to a physical therapist who is familiar with lifting.

Is that really how narrow a landing position needs to be? Would it be better have a narrower stance with really pointed out toes, or a not so narrow stance with not so turned out toes?

Also Emil, I had that same problem for a while, with the hip pain and stuff when trying to get lower into a squat (i also had knee pain) but what I found that really helped alleviate the pain, and I'm pain free now, is foam rolling every morning and every night.

I did it for a month or so, and the pain completely went away, and now I only roll a couple times a week, it that, and sometimes I forget. I actually haven't rolled in a couple weeks, maybe even a month, and my knee pain is starting to come back, so I'm rolling tonight, and I bet its gone by morning.

Greg Everett
12-02-2008, 07:07 PM
Is that really how narrow a landing position needs to be? Would it be better have a narrower stance with really pointed out toes, or a not so narrow stance with not so turned out toes?

Not "a" landing position, his landing position... Approximately. Kind of hard to see in the dark. But remember that 2 things dictate the width of the feet - hip width, and the relative lengths of the upper and lower leg. Long lower leg = narrower stance, because that's where the feet will be if the knees are aligned.

Chris H Laing
12-03-2008, 03:28 AM
Thanks greg. Thats reassuring. I thought I might have been landing too wide but I have pretty long upper legs.

And I was right. No knee pain this morning. The foam roller is magic!

Patrick Yeung
01-03-2009, 12:23 PM
Looks like this is old, I was just interested in the read.

Can you do Pistol squats? Ive known people who can leg press and squat pretty heavy, or at least more than their own body weight, and can not pistol squat. The reason is not strength or flexibility, but balance.

Didnt get a chance to see the video, but here are somethings I did to help me.

Of course, just do it with no weights, or much less to practice form. As far as stance goes, I heard that if you jump in the air a few times then land, that is about where youll want your feet for your squat.

As far as back rounding problems, asian squats are good, but I also did dumbell squats, but holding plates. I would grab two 45s, not sure what to call the hold, but similar to what youd do at the top of a thruster before the pull, and squat all the way down. This made it real easy to squat real deep and because they were plates, it helped me develop balance while keeping good form.

Foam rollers are the best. I had a lot of IT band problems, which was also limiting my depth, and it got em all out.