You’ve got 99 problems …. and your squats are 98 of them? I got you.
When asking you guys today what your biggest training struggles are I saw one major theme — SQUATS. A lot of your having issues with depth or your “chest falling over”.
Let me first say that 1) lifting is a skill that takes time 2) your body isn’t broken 3) your body is resilient even if your form is imperfect and 4) we get better at squatting or any lift or skill we suck at by doing it more / exposing ourselves to it.
BUT here’s 5 tips that may help you “fix” your squats! Keep in mind this list is non exhaustive, there’s many individual cues that may work for you & working with a coach or getting an video analysis (I recommend reaching out to @tayloreckel.dpt @alyssaparten or @danihalsey_ if that is something you want!).
1.) Widen Stance
Many of us get locked into this idea that we must be married to a perfectly narrow shoulder-width apart squat stance.
While we may not want to be as wide as we can stand to squat, there will be a little bit of intraindividual variation here.
If you struggle with depth, “falling forward,” or “balance” in your squat, try to widen your stance a bit more than shoulder-width
2.) Bar Position
Most of us are only ever introduced to high bar back squats. However, there are MANY ways to squat. We first need to ask ourselves WHY we are squatting.
Low bar back squats may be a great option for those who struggle with keeping their torso up or “getting out of the bottom.”
But also, if you’re not a powerlifter, it is fine to play with front, Zercher, goblet, overhead or other squats too!
For many people finding a position that works with your own personal anatomy, comfort & being confident in it is key! Things like playing with your stance or bar position or heel elevation can help with this. Sometimes it can even make it *click* with one small adjustment.
Then for others things like simply being new, needing to practice the movement or lacking general strength may be the struggle point. For my friends who struggle getting the bar UP, hip rise before your chest / chest is “falling over” — beyond stance or bar position you may just need to strengthen your quads which are a main muscle used in squats!
3.) Full Footed
Many of us for years have heard the cue to drive through our heels. But what we want is a full foot 🦶 with our force being driven upward with our center of mass // bar path. Not no weight in your toes and only in heels and NOT leaning forward into your toes. Think of the 3 points of your foot — big toe, heel and lateral edge *gripping* the floor to make a sturdy base.
4.) Quad Gainz
While some squat fixes may come with small form adjustments, slowing it down, or just time + repetition…. sometimes we just lack quad strength.
This is where our accessory work can be helpful. Try adding in quad dominant variations such a rear foot elevated split squats, lunges, step-ups, etc.
Try adding these in 1-2x/week for 3-6 total sets between 1-2 of those exercises.
5.) Elevate Heels
Where you may lack in the natural range of motion or bendy ankle magic… comes elevating your heels.
If you struggle with squat depth squatting in ‘lifters’ or elevated shoes may help you create this slightly elevated platform. Some metcon shoes also come with an insert.
Or by standing with your heels on small ‘change plates’ (1-5 lb plates) at the gym while squatting.
Listen — squats aren’t easy. They take time. & again there are plenty of other cues / tips for other aspects of our squat struggles.
it’s also valid to ask ourselves why were squatting. Is the goal to be a power lifter who must back squat? Or are you lifting for general health? It’s okay if you play with a different variation of the later!👍🏻