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Old 11-21-2013, 01:17 PM   #1
Brendan Sonnichsen
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Default Help with squat

Hey there,

This is a client of mine who has been struggling for years with knees caving in on squats. I started working with her about 8 months ago and we've put about 35# on her max, but we have not been able to address the valgus knee problem you see in the video before - in fact, I'm afraid that in spite of things we have tried things have become worse (this was a particularly bad set which is why I'm posting it!). I've worked with at least a hundred other athletes through this problem with success, but with this person we haven't made any progress. I've tried everything I can think of to correct the problem including:

- ankle mobility
- glute activation exercises
- monster walks
- squats with bands around knees
- a light squat cycle at tempo focused on knees out
- several sessions readdressing squat setup

All, unfortunately, to no avail. I'm just wondering, if this athlete presented at your gym, what steps would you go through to help her clean up her form and press on to new strength limits.

The problem begins to present itself at about 80% intensity or under fatigue (around 8-10 rep mark, especially in later sets) with moderate weights.

Current max of 170# at 145# bwt.

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Old 11-22-2013, 11:48 AM   #2
Blake Barnes
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I feel like valgus collapse always takes a while to correct. The first thing I was going to say was Lateral X-Band Walks which are similar to Monster Walks. Also continue to do hip and ankle mobility. Try to foam roll the lower body before and after training (IT band, VMO, Quads, etc).

Also, I would try to incorporate single leg squatting movements. Split Squat and Bulgarian Split Squats with the barbell on the back.

Other than that just continue to do those different exercises with her because it's something that's just going to take some time.
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Old 11-22-2013, 06:01 PM   #3
Brendan Sonnichsen
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Thanks Blake. We've got her RFESS up to 50#/hand for 8 reps, but haven't tried with back split squat yet. I'm getting a lot of the same feedback from some other professionals... i.e. keep on keeping on

In case some are interested, her FMS was:
Hurdle 2R/3L
Lunge 3
Rotational 2R/3L
Overhead Squat 2
Push-up 1
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Old 11-23-2013, 06:02 AM   #4
Javier Sanjuan
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 182


I don't have a degree in biomechanics or anything like that, but I'm going to go on a limb and say she doesn't necessarily have anything to worry about. I would worry if her knees caved in while she descended rather than ascending. I also think it's natural for the knees to slightly flex inward in order to activate all the necessary muscles for a successful squat (not too much -- as long as they're still within that neutral plane that's getting so much attention lately) during the drive up. If you look at some of the heaviest squats, you'll see people cave in a little here and there, but their form and technique is solid before that.

I have a couple of athletes who do have the knees come in while they're coming out of the squat, but I think it's more so of a reason that they're trying to be too posterior dominant during that phase. Yes, you'll have to initiate that drive with a lot of help from the posterior, but in my experience (limited at best), people tend to cave their knees in because they want to shoot their hips up and get more "power" from their hamstrings and lower back, essentially turning the squat into a really heavy good morning. One cue I use to correct this is to tell them to get their "hips back under." I don't say anything else, and I see their hips not only get back under the bar and see their chest rise up back to proper form, but their knees flare back out over their feet in the proper track. The sooner you can get them to get their hips back under, the more efficient they'll be, and you'll see her squat numbers sky rocket. I'm going to say she already has the leg strength to do more, so I hope this cue helps you as well. One thing I'll advise you against is forcing your athlete to vigorously push them out past her feet. Again, there's so much data going around over that discussion that I'll end it right there.

All the best,
Javier A. Sanjuan
Olympus Barbell Club

Dear God, please help me lift heavy and be awesome. Thanks. Amen.
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Old 11-26-2013, 04:52 AM   #5
Brendan Sonnichsen
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Thanks Javier,
I know what you're getting at (I think I do anyway...) but I tend to agree more with the "other" side... I think Kelly Starrett makes his case for it here:

If it were something happening at just the heaviest weights I wouldn't be so concerned, but I feel it presents too early.
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