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Stacey Greenway
03-11-2009, 01:09 PM
First of all, thanks for the great book, Coach Everett: once Iíve gotten generally stronger on all the basic lifts, I fully expect to transition into more Olympic lifting.
Iíve been talking to Glenn about some squat form issues, and he recommended that I post here, as you all are broadly knowledgeable and well experienced. Iím posterior-chain dominant as hell, which causes me to goodmorning the squat out of the hole (Ripís low-bar squat). Having backed the weight down considerably, I was able to improve my form so that I was no longer shooting my hips as much. Nevertheless, now that I've approached 200 lbs. again I've started shooting my hips once more. This happens every time I approach 200 lbs (consequently, as my deadlift has gotten closer to 300 lbs., I've also began to shoot my hips on the last couple of reps of my worksets).

http://www.vimeo.com/2889068 (me nearing 200 lbs.)

I am absolutely trying like hell to squeeze my chest up and keep from doing a goodmorning, but it isn't working. I've followed Rip's Starting Strength program to the letter, but this just keeps happening. At this point (and although Rip would probably beat me for it), I'm thinking that some more direct quad work would help immensely. In case it will help you to make a recommendation, I should tell you that I spent a lot of time crouched in what martial arts practitioners call the "horse" stance (feet wide, toes turned out to fourty-five degrees, hips set down and back) for the six years that I studied karate. I would consider myself, beyond a shadow of a doubt, immensely posterior-chain dominant. Also, I don't know if this might affect my low-bar squat or not, but my legs are abnormally long relative to my torso, so much so that I've had to resort to sumo deadlifting per Rip's recommendation.

I told Glenn that I was thinking of doing high-bar squats in place of the low-bar because theyíre considered sort of a "middle" between the low-bar and front squat varieties, so that while allowing me to handle more weight than the front squat, it should still get me more into my quads than the low-bar squat. Glenn in turn said that I should introduce front squats into my routine, as they will force me to use my quads, or else Iíll dump the bar.

So what Iíve done is this: more or less continued doing the Starting Strength program, but started alternating high-bar back squats and front squats on an A/B schedule; Iíve reduced the weight on the back squats to one that allows me to do ďperfectĒ form, but my main focus has become adding weight to the front squats every time that I do them.

What do you all think of this approach? Thanks in advance,
Stacey

Brian Lawyer
03-11-2009, 01:25 PM
So what Iíve done is this: more or less continued doing the Starting Strength program, but started alternating high-bar back squats and front squats on an A/B schedule; Iíve reduced the weight on the back squats to one that allows me to do ďperfectĒ form, but my main focus has become adding weight to the front squats every time that I do them.



I like this idea. That is kind of how I have been training. I am currently on a split schedule like this.

day 1: Snatches and CJ's
Day 2: strength
Days 3 and 4: rest
Day 6: Snatches and CJ's
Day 7; Strength

My strength days always start with either a Front squat or a back squat. Then I'll do something overhead (i.e. push press, various jerks, snatch push presses). Finally, I will finish up with some sort of pull .

Robert Callahan
03-11-2009, 01:36 PM
Stacey in that video do you have the bar in high or low bar position? It appears like it is low bar and if this is the case your form looks fine. A low bar position will require a further inclined torso to keep the barbell over your center of gravity (mid-foot). This in turn stretches the hamstrings out and allows more posterior chain involvement. You can try and force a low bar back squat to look like a high bar back squat, but you will only be able to accomplish this at light weights as at heavy weights you will either fail, or uncontrollably go back to good low bar back squat form.

Lets see some video of your high bar back squats, or front squats. If your hip drive is occurring in these two exercises, then you need to do some fixing, otherwise though I don't see the problem.

Dave Van Skike
03-11-2009, 01:44 PM
Stacey, I think those squats look very legit, the hip shooting is not excessive adn that's not as big a GM as it may feel like. I'm not an Oly lifter but I'd say find a squat stance and style that works for your body and your goals and just run with it. For people with long legs, a wider stance usually helps regardless of bar position. This has certainly been the case with me and a medium width stance with medium low bar is what I can make work. Front squats can be really hard for people with long femurs but they also work all the things that need working so Your idea of alternating makes a lot of sense to me.

If Low bar is working for you, I think you'd do fine to just keep working them use front squats and box squats to move things along.

Stacey Greenway
03-13-2009, 09:01 AM
Thanks for the responses, everyone.

Robert, that's a low-bar squat you see in the video, and while I understand that this requires a more dramatic inclination of back angle, my concern is with what's happening on the way up: hips shooting, which means that the knees extend, but the bar doesn't really travel up all that much, and then the back, glutes and hams have to finish the job all by themselves.

David, the shooting of the hips isn't the worst I've seen either, but the problem gets more pronounced at even higher weights, and what's probably more important is that, because I'm steepening my back angle, increased torque is being applied to the low back, so that after a while of squatting this way, the low back starts to become REALLY sore and tender and starts to sort of get a pulled, overstretched feeling (not good).

I'm going to do high-bar squat again today, so I'll get some videos of them posted, plus some of my most recent front squats for you all to look at.

Thanks again.

Robert Callahan
03-13-2009, 01:04 PM
Robert, that's a low-bar squat you see in the video, and while I understand that this requires a more dramatic inclination of back angle, my concern is with what's happening on the way up: hips shooting, which means that the knees extend, but the bar doesn't really travel up all that much, and then the back, glutes and hams have to finish the job all by themselves.

The reason your hips are shooting up though is because you are trying to keep a much to vertical back angle. This is putting the bar slightly behind your balance point (mid foot) and so when you start to stand back up your body is forcing you into the correct balanced position in order to finish the move. If you set a low-bar back squat with significant weight with too vertical a back angle you will always either a) have your hips shoot up to bring the bar forward or b) fail the rep.

You cannot expect a low-bar back squat to look like a high bar back squat. They each have unique form and therefore a unique look and trying to turn one into the other will only cause problems.

This is why I recommended getting some footage of front squats and high bar back squats. Your hips shooting up in either of these two lifts would indicate a problem but in the video you posted it was just your body correcting a mechanical error you tried to create (too vertical back angle).

Hope that makes sense :)

Dave Van Skike
03-13-2009, 01:15 PM
David, the shooting of the hips isn't the worst I've seen either, but the problem gets more pronounced at even higher weights, and what's probably more important is that, because I'm steepening my back angle, increased torque is being applied to the low back, so that after a while of squatting this way, the low back starts to become REALLY sore and tender and starts to sort of get a pulled, overstretched feeling (not good).



this just sounds to me like you're working hard, and may be on a bit of a plateau progress wise.. If you can fix it by squatting a different way while still making meaningful progress that's a smart call.

Stacey Greenway
03-15-2009, 12:21 PM
Okay, a bit of follow-up:

I'm posting three vids, the first is a set of high-bar squats done at a "comfortable" weight, and these are probably the best I've been able to do, form-wise, having managed to eliminate most of the hip shooting artifact from my form:

http://www.vimeo.com/3645545
*vimeo keeps acting stupid, saying that this video is temporarily unavailable, so this link may or may not work for you at certain times and I may have to upload it elsewhere*

The next videos are my high-bar squat (prior to backing the weight down and trying like hell to eliminate "shooting") and my front squat respectively:

*both can be viewed in 'HQ'*
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PM2yUoTRxVU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJQRsRABz9o

Kevin Perry
03-15-2009, 01:50 PM
Stacey,

When you rise from the bottom of the squat are you pushing through your heels? It looks fine overall although how is your glute activation? Im wondering if perhaps your not actively engaging your glutes which may be causing you to do some weird hip shooting.

Garrett Smith
03-15-2009, 03:38 PM
More sets of low reps at the highest weights you can maintain the type of form you're after. No failure on these, or even going to exertion realms that "wreck" your form.

Practice your form, then start experimenting with higher weights.

Stacey Greenway
03-15-2009, 04:45 PM
Just what I've been trying, Garrett; meanwhile, the only squat that I'm really pushing to the limit and adding weight to every time that I do it is the front squat.

Meanwhile, here's the vid of my "good" high-bar squat for comparison, now on Youtube instead:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0j9QImtybY8

Kevin, I usually try like hell to squeeze my glutes. Also, I don't normally just focus on pressing through the heel, but rather the heel and midfoot/ball of foot too.

Comparison of the two high-bar vids shows a marked difference in form, don't you think?

Thanks, guys.

Dave Van Skike
03-15-2009, 06:07 PM
Stacey, how narrow/wide is your stance? there's not a huge difference to my eye, but you do have the look of someone fighting their way around longish femurs.

maybe shop around with a wider/toed out stance?

Stacey Greenway
03-15-2009, 07:24 PM
Point taken, Dave. My stance is right at to maybe just a little outside shoulder width, toes turned out to about thirty degrees. But it stands to reason that, having had to adopt a sumo stance on my deadlift in order to achieve anything approaching a tolerable back angle, that some adjustments might also have to be made to my squat stance as well.

Aimee Anaya Everett
03-18-2009, 11:31 AM
The reason you are shooting your hips up is because your quads are not strong enough to support the load and open the knee at that angle (as a result of low-bar back squatting), so you have to refer to your posterior chain strength in order to stand up with heavy loads.

Aaron Gainer
03-18-2009, 11:45 AM
Your form looks fine on high bar. I would use that in place of the low bar. Then again, I like a more upright stance anyway for squatting!!!!

Dave Van Skike
03-18-2009, 01:29 PM
The reason you are shooting your hips up is because your quads are not strong enough to support the load and open the knee at that angle (as a result of low-bar back squatting), so you have to refer to your posterior chain strength in order to stand up with heavy loads.


Is this a fair analysis? Her quads are at a disadvantage to be sure but it's not likley a muscualr weakness, her legs are just hella long.

Stacey, I bet you'll always have that (modest IMO) sticking point. You can mitigate it by widening stance, abandoning high bar or just do what you're doing, and really emphasize the front squat.

Better yet. Realize where your levers, put down those bumpers and come to the dark side.

Chris H Laing
03-19-2009, 03:39 AM
The reason you are shooting your hips up is because your quads are not strong enough to support the load and open the knee at that angle (as a result of low-bar back squatting), so you have to refer to your posterior chain strength in order to stand up with heavy loads.

This is what happened to me due to the low bar back squat as well. I am now working front squats in instead of back squats to try and strengthen up my anterior chain. I also find that increasing hamstring flexibility helps.

Brian Lawyer
03-19-2009, 07:49 AM
The reason you are shooting your hips up is because your quads are not strong enough to support the load and open the knee at that angle (as a result of low-bar back squatting), so you have to refer to your posterior chain strength in order to stand up with heavy loads.

Aimee is gracing us with her hot sports opinions on low bar back squats. Awesome! I'm just kidding.

For real, the more I learn about squatting, I am finding the LBBS are not as functional as some would think. I don't think it is Rippatoes fault. He originally wrote the book for getting skinny high school kids and other begginers to pack on some strength. I had read somewhere that the SS LBBS is basically a modified "Good Morning" lift. I find that to be somewhat true.

I have also read that Rip himself admits his LBBS does nothing for standing up out of the "hole" in Olympic lifting, something that requires quadriceps. I believe Rip was noting that the transfer of LBBS strength to Olympic lifting is that it primarily benefits the first pull.

Dave Van Skike
03-19-2009, 08:54 AM
My BS meter is ticking....

This thread is about to descend into debate about function, the nature of elephants and perceived by the blind and the possible number of angels on the head of a pin.

DVS exit stage right....


Stacey. You've done some nice squatting anyhow you do it and continued good luck.

Kevin Perry
03-19-2009, 09:33 AM
uh oh, here we go girls and boys lets keep this back on topic and not descend into the depths of LBBS vs. HBBS....

Brian Lawyer
03-19-2009, 02:53 PM
Woops, I didn't mean to hijack the thread. I actually never read what the topic of the original post was or I did several weeks ago and forgot by now. Accept my apologies.

uh oh, here we go girls and boys lets keep this back on topic and not descend into the depths of LBBS vs. HBBS....

My BS meter is ticking....

This thread is about to descend into debate about function, the nature of elephants and perceived by the blind and the possible number of angels on the head of a pin.

DVS exit stage right....


Stacey. You've done some nice squatting anyhow you do it and continued good luck.

Daniel Olmstead
03-19-2009, 11:05 PM
I don't want to hijack, but wanted to let you know I'm watching this thread like a hawk because I have exactly the same problem (http://www.vimeo.com/3772314). Don't let it die!

I've been following the advice from the Squat Rx video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY4gwVlO_k0) that deals with GM'ing out of the hole and doing Goblet Squats and Good Morning Squats as assistance exercises. I also found Kelly Starrett's midline stabilization series on the CrossFit Journal to be extremely helpful. I'm also thinking that more air squats nose-to-wall might help. I haven't solved the issue, but I think it is getting better.

Since I started with SS, I've never even really given HBBS a fair shake, and now I'm thinking maybe I should. My front squat is also terrible, but since I have to use such a lighter weight for that, I always feel like I'm not getting a good CNS hit for strength development.

Stacey, please share any insights or breakthroughs you gain about this, I'd love to hear them.

Stacey Greenway
03-20-2009, 09:10 AM
First off, Iím glad to see this thread has sparked so much dialogue and interest.

Secondly, I should reiterate the particulars of my situation once more, as I think weíve all lost sight of some of them since my original post.

To begin with, my being posterior-chain dominant is rooted in several factors, probably the least of which is the fact that Iíve been low-bar squatting. My quads have always felt relatively weak, and this was only exacerbated by the practice of martial arts, both karate and iaido (traditional Japanese swordsmanship), wherein lots of time is spent by practitioners in what is known as a horse stance (this is essentially a sumo squat stance). I practiced karate and iaido for six years, three hours a day for six days out of the week.

When I first began actual squatting several years ago, I was taught to lean way back on my heels, sticking my butt back to the point of near imbalance. I did this until I up to a few years back, at which point I became frustrated and began self-educating myself through the work of guys like Glenn Pendlay and Mark Rippetoe, both of whom I admire for their experience and intellect, and also through the Crossfit website. Iíve since purchased Mr. Everettís book on Olympic lifting, and I was impressed with him as well. I believe that everyoneís education in lifting should begin with the works of the three abovementioned fellas. Together, they truly have brought lifting into the 21st century.

To make matters worse, my deadlift has continued to improve and strengthen, while Iíve experienced setback after setback with my squat, which has resulted in my posterior chain becoming stronger still.

So you see, it isnít just one factor that has contributed to my particular problem, but many. Just for the record, I think you can low-bar squats just fine without developing any real imbalances, especially if you invest in some decent squat shoes, since theyíll get you more into your quads anyway, because Iíve taught many of my clients to squat this way and none of them have developed raging imbalances (no shooting hips, or the like).

I think the most important thing is to look at the individual, whether its using Starting Strength or some other program, and make decisions for exercise selection based on that personís strengths and weaknesses. For instance, one of my clients absolutely could not use his posterior chain to squat at all when doing high-bar (he was always relaxing his hamstrings at the bottom), so I switched him over to low-bar, and now he MUST lean over more and use more of his posterior chain.

My two cents,
Stacey

P.S. Donít let my name fool you--Iím actually a dude, guys!

Aimee Anaya Everett
03-21-2009, 01:01 PM
Aimee is gracing us with her hot sports opinions on low bar back squats. Awesome! I'm just kidding.

For real, the more I learn about squatting, I am finding the LBBS are not as functional as some would think. I don't think it is Rippatoes fault. He originally wrote the book for getting skinny high school kids and other begginers to pack on some strength. I had read somewhere that the SS LBBS is basically a modified "Good Morning" lift. I find that to be somewhat true.

I have also read that Rip himself admits his LBBS does nothing for standing up out of the "hole" in Olympic lifting, something that requires quadriceps. I believe Rip was noting that the transfer of LBBS strength to Olympic lifting is that it primarily benefits the first pull.

Very good response, and I agree.
They are simply not as functional as some people believe. There is, in my opinion, a reason Rip's fantastic book is called "starting strength". It is for BEGINNERS. In the long run, people who only LBBS try to snatch and clean "goodmorning" style. It simply does not transfer over. Period. It may work for a while, merely because the athlete is strong enough to muscle the snatch or clean, but once they get beyond that point, they have nowhere to go. Am I biased? absolutely! Do I have reason? Yes. Do we need to strengthen our pull? yes... so we do pulls. The LBBS does not prepare you to receive heavy loads in the snatch and the clean, because you are not strong with an upright position, and your quads won't be nearly as strong as they will be from doing HBBS.
Stacey, you say your quads have always been weak. If you start HBBS'ing, that would strengthen your quads. LBBS does not target the quads. Also, no disrespect towards Rip, because he is a very smart dude, at WHAT HE DOES. which is teaching BEGINNER powerlifters. Not weightlifters. There is a huge difference here. But you should not be looking to him for advice in O'lifting or getting strong for o'lifting. Glen Pendlay? Absolutely! Mike Burgener, heck ya! Greg? Yes. Go to Rip for starting strength for the power lifter. Please don't mistake my post here as a Rip bash. Because it isn't. I really like the guy, and I think he teaches what he teaches very well. however, there is a huge misconception out there that he is the go-to guy for o'lifting strength. I am sorry, but I strongly disagree with your statement: "I think you can low-bar squats just fine without developing any real imbalances, especially if you invest in some decent squat shoes, since theyíll get you more into your quads anyway, because Iíve taught many of my clients to squat this way and none of them have developed raging imbalances (no shooting hips, or the like)".
If you are never going to perform the O'Lifts, or are not worried about increasing your strength for the O'Lifts, then yes... LBBS away, it is a good way to get starting strength. But, if you want to improve your lifts, and get stronger for them, then you need to drop the LBBS and stick to the HBBS.
I am not trying to put you down here, please don't mistake my post. These are only my opinions. I advise everyone to learn both ways, and then decide for themselves what they think is better. Every single person I know who has switched over sees DRASTIC improvements in their lifts and their strength. Read this article: The Low Bar Back Squat for Weightlifters (http://www.performancemenu.com/zen/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=139&zenid=c312c080ac079d985175ee3c7f79effa)

Kevin Perry
03-21-2009, 01:13 PM
Very Informative post Aimee

Daniel Olmstead
03-21-2009, 02:42 PM
Very eye-opening, thanks Aimee.

Since I can barely squat my bodyweight, I think I still qualify as a "beginner" and am going to stick with the LBBS for the rest of my current cycle (9 more weeks). I think the limiting factor on my Oly lifts is still mostly technique, so I have some room to improve there before quad strength kills them for me. But after this cycle, I'm thinking I should shelve LBBS in favor of HBBS and Front-squats.

Dave Van Skike
03-21-2009, 03:45 PM
horses for courses...

outside of this rarefied world of Olympic lifting, if you ask the average Powerlifter, SM competitor, HG'er or TF athlete, to explain the the important elements of back squatting, they would tell you to put the bar on your back and squat all the way down.

Stacey Greenway
03-21-2009, 07:56 PM
Aimee, remember I said: "I think the most important thing is to look at the individual...." That includes looking at what the individual's goals are. If the individual's goals are to eventually specialize in the Olympic lifts, then eventually I would have them switch over to High Bar squats, as they will better approximate the front squat position, while still allowing that lifter to lift more weight that with the front squat, thus getting him or her stronger. And looking at the individual means, as I alluded to, choosing a version of the squat that best targets whatever that individual needs specifically at that time, whether it is to make the transition to Olympic lifting or to just plain get stronger. To that extent, and for the purposes of teaching a beginner, utilizing the low-bar back squat is usually my default choice; however, if the low-bar back squat does not fit that individual, for whatever reason that might be, I'm fully comfortable making the switch to high-bar in that case. I'm capable of thinking for myself and weighing the arguments of each side and seeing that there are good reasons for Olympic lifting coaches to use high bar squats and Rip and his beginners to utilize low-bar squats, etc.

As for my particular case, I was originally just fishing about to see whether anyone else had experienced similar problems and whether everyone thought my way of programming the front squats and high-bar squats together in an alternating fashion was a worthwhile approach, or whether I was just wasting my time with the high-bar squats, given the relative proportions of my levers (legs relatively longer in proportion to my upper body), in which case I should have just focused entirely on front squats.

But lastly, I do have to disagree that low-bar squats don't get the quads stronger: they might not have been the best choice for me, given my individual situation, but that's not to say that they don't have a place in a person's training at a given place and time, otherwise. Low-bar squatting does not = shooting the hips.

To conclude, I've always recognized that, once I've developed a sufficient base of strength and then begun to transition into Olympic lifting (as has been my plan for quite some time), I should make the transition to high-bar squatting, eventually. It just looks like I'm going to have to make that transition sooner than I thought, given my peculiar situation.

Donald Lee
03-22-2009, 09:15 AM
Aimee, remember I said: "I think the most important thing is to look at the individual...." That includes looking at what the individual's goals are. If the individual's goals are to eventually specialize in the Olympic lifts, then eventually I would have them switch over to High Bar squats, as they will better approximate the front squat position, while still allowing that lifter to lift more weight that with the front squat, thus getting him or her stronger. And looking at the individual means, as I alluded to, choosing a version of the squat that best targets whatever that individual needs specifically at that time, whether it is to make the transition to Olympic lifting or to just plain get stronger. To that extent, and for the purposes of teaching a beginner, utilizing the low-bar back squat is usually my default choice; however, if the low-bar back squat does not fit that individual, for whatever reason that might be, I'm fully comfortable making the switch to high-bar in that case. I'm capable of thinking for myself and weighing the arguments of each side and seeing that there are good reasons for Olympic lifting coaches to use high bar squats and Rip and his beginners to utilize low-bar squats, etc.

As for my particular case, I was originally just fishing about to see whether anyone else had experienced similar problems and whether everyone thought my way of programming the front squats and high-bar squats together in an alternating fashion was a worthwhile approach, or whether I was just wasting my time with the high-bar squats, given the relative proportions of my levers (legs relatively longer in proportion to my upper body), in which case I should have just focused entirely on front squats.

But lastly, I do have to disagree that low-bar squats don't get the quads stronger: they might not have been the best choice for me, given my individual situation, but that's not to say that they don't have a place in a person's training at a given place and time, otherwise. Low-bar squatting does not = shooting the hips.

To conclude, I've always recognized that, once I've developed a sufficient base of strength and then begun to transition into Olympic lifting (as has been my plan for quite some time), I should make the transition to high-bar squatting, eventually. It just looks like I'm going to have to make that transition sooner than I thought, given my peculiar situation.

Your situation is not peculiar. Low-bar squats do not transfer as well to high-bar squats as you would think. You generally don't get deep enough. You develop bad motor patterns, etc.

It's all up to you though.

Dave Van Skike
03-22-2009, 09:42 AM
stacey. you might want to close your own thread before it gets any worse.

Aimee Anaya Everett
03-22-2009, 04:06 PM
I agree with Donald.

Everyone has a right to disagree, and that is okay. everyone has their training preferences. Aside from the strength building differences, what I have found is this... it is very difficult for people to learn proper and effective technique in the snatch and the clean if they are frequent LBBS'ers. I find it difficult for them to get in the correct starting position because they want to shoot their hips up first, and when they receive the bar they shoot their hips up when recovering, which often results in them dumping the bar forward. Or when doing a snatch, they look like they are trying to do a good morning with the bar over their heads. They often jump forward to chase the bar in both the clean and the snatch because of their back and hip angle, and then it makes it even more difficult for them. The LBBS places one in position that is very technically (not only strength here) compromising when they try to snatch and clean, because they want to be in the position where they feel strongest. LBBS are great, again in my opinion, for anybody who does not ever want to snatch or clean & jerk. But for those who do want to incorporate the lifts into their training, they should start HBBS'ing right away. Because as Donald mentioned, LBBS develops very poor motor patterns, and technique problems that are very difficult to break.
They just do not transfer over as people like to think.

George Mounce
03-22-2009, 05:05 PM
I agree with Aimee. I switched to HBBS quite some time ago and it has worked wonders. I won't be going back....squat? Sorry just worked well. :p