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Quit Squats, Starting Over

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  • Quit Squats, Starting Over

    Hi, I'm a 63 y.o., M, 6'0", 215 lbs. You helped me in a previous post ("Programming the Squat with Big Form Problems", May 12), and that was very helpful, but I could use more insight. (I'll summarize my problem here so you don't have to read that long post of mine again.)

    So I've been struggling for a long time with a good morning squat with a bar path like a ski slope where at the bottom the bar ends up at my toes or further forward. I have kyphosis, and on many work sets in the hole the bar slides even further forward on my back, making for a miserable off balance grind upwards, or sometimes a fall forwards onto the safety pins. No cue has helped this, no matter how hard I concentrate, and I never really made it through novice LP with the squat due to stalling because of form, because eventually it feels so physically wrong that I feel I can't and shouldn't go up in weight.

    A couple weeks ago I just quit, finally concluding nothing would help but a mental break and a total reset.

    Ironically, I had just signed up for your intermediate group programming, which after my first week I like a lot, except that now I'm a pre-novice on the squat, I'm basically not even doing them. (I will post some videos to the group programming forum of my experiments with an empty bar to get their opinion, so I am kind of double-dipping here, but I'd love your opinion too.)

    So, I recently removed the j hooks from the front uprights of my squat rack, lifted my wife's 15 lb. bar onto my back in the low-bar position with no plates, and walked forward until the bar hit the front uprights. I made sure that my mid-foot aligned with the inner edge of the bottom of the upright, so I'd know that as long as the bar is touching the uprights it would track over mid-foot as I descended. Sort of like a homemade Smith machine. I figured the video will tell me what my anthropometry determines my back angle should be at the bottom when the bar is over mid-foot all the way.

    The video showed that keeping the bar over mid-foot has me at a back angle much more vertical at the bottom than what's normal for a low-bar squat. I can see there might be some leeway for the back angle if I put my knees more forward or back, but I just did what felt most natural, any maneuvering of knees or back was pretty awkward. (The one squat - with a 15 lb. bar - was phenomenally difficult, I could barely get up, I felt like the quads were weak and I couldn't involve the hips much like I'm used to.)

    Now I figured that if I'm that vertical with the bar in low-bar position, bringing it up and forward into the high bar position would force me to be even more vertical. Indeed, when I tried the high bar position I couldn't even make it all the way down for one squat, and I went back on my heels at the halfway point.

    I wonder if this confirms what I'd been wondering, that the best squat for me might be a high-bar squat back angle, but with the squat in the low-bar position, a hybrid. (With the low-bar position but the more vertical back I even tried keeping my eyes looking forward high-bar style, and it felt okay.)

    So, opinions? Do you think my experiment might realistically indicate what my back angle should be, or are there just too many other variables? What kind of anthropometry (plus kyphosis?) might cause one to have to have a vertical back angle while keeping the bar over mid-foot? I never thought I had any unusual build (kyphosis aside), but is there a best way to measure femur/tibia/torso proportions and a standard for comparison? I would love to know if there is a mechanical explanation for all this difficulty.

    Also, why could I barely do one squat with this new back angle and an unloaded 15-lb. bar when I was doing 225 lbs (with my bad form) a couple weeks before? Could my quads be so phenomenally weak even though I was managing to move up in weight with low-bar squats - and could that be a symptom or cause of the good-morningness?

    I would really like to do some kind of regular squat with a regular bar if possible, am resigned or even relieved to be starting from zero again even though I don't yet know what kind of squat I should be doing, and I have all the time in the world to try to do it right. Many thanks for your help in advance.

  • #2
    Hi SquareOne,

    Since you are a member of our group programming, I would encourage you to post this sort of thing there, including your video for further analysis and feedback. Jordan and I are in that group as well as our other qualified coaches, and will be able to see your post.
    IG / YT


    • #3
      Yup, will do, I'll try to make it shorter!