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Squat depth and keeping heels on the ground

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  • Squat depth and keeping heels on the ground

    Given the way I currently do HBBS, it seems I have a choice:
    1) Keep my heels on the ground and fail to achieve sub-parallel
    2) Lift my heels up off the ground and just barely achieve sub-parallel
    3) Keep my heels on the ground, achieve sub-parallel, fall on my ass

    Empty barbell vs 275 lbs makes no difference. Yes, I can get plenty low and heels on the ground if I hold onto something.

    I've tried a wider stance
    I've tried focusing on pushing knees out
    I've tried focusing on pushing ass back

    Here are the things I've been offered as suggestions that I haven't tried and the reasons I haven't yet tried them:
    Lifting shoes (would rather not spend the $$ if I don't have to, and I'm not confident they will solve the problem)
    LBBS (willing to switch over time, but unsure this will actually solve the problem or not)
    Practicing Downward Facing Dog and 3rd world dog (I'd really rather not resort to daily yoga, and I've read in several places it's not really necessary to do it this way)

    Current approach is to let heels come up and continue squatting to depth. I realize it's inefficient, but technically I think, it's still a "legal" squat?

    Thoughts or opinions? Thanks!
    Last edited by Smokes; 02-13-2020, 02:25 AM.

  • #2
    Could you post a video?
    It sounds like the problem I had that was fixed by letting my back round a little (which is fine!!!). Hard to say without a video though.

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    • #3
      Sure, here are some paused squats from the other day



      Last edited by Smokes; 02-13-2020, 10:36 AM.

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      • #4
        Lifting shoes (would rather not spend the $$ if I don't have to, and I'm not confident they will solve the problem)
        LBBS (willing to switch over time, but unsure this will actually solve the problem or not)

        Your right heel comes up halfway down on your first rep suggesting your weight is forward on your toes causing your heel to come up. The heel then seems to go back down once you catch your balance at the bottom. @OP Do you think this is a balance issue or an ankle mobility issue?

        Lifting shoes can help with balance because they are firmer but will help more with ankle mobility. To quickly assess the benefit of lifting shoes for ankle mobility I would place a 5 or 10 pound plate under each heel and squat with an empty bar. If you still have problems my guess is your issue is balance and practice not mobility. $100+ for lifting shoes can put people off and if youre happy enough lifting in gym-shoes consider https://vlifts.com/products/v2-versalift which are significantly cheaper and can be placed into any pair of shoes giving you the same heel lift for about $30.

        LBBS requires less ankle mobility because there is less forward knee travel. If ankle mobility is your issue, give LBBS a try before buying anything. I think you over estimate how challenging the switch would be.

        /s just for fun I combined my lifting shoes and versalift V2s and the depth it gave me made me feel like Lu Xiaojun https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glIRcIurOA8

        Last edited by pgoreham; 02-13-2020, 02:14 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by pgoreham View Post
          Your right heel comes up halfway down on your first rep suggesting your weight is forward on your toes causing your heel to come up. The heel then seems to go back down once you catch your balance at the bottom. @OP Do you think this is a balance issue or an ankle mobility issue?
          Based on how I feel while squatting I feel very well balanced and stable. I didn't even notice that the heels come up until someone mentioned it to me. That would lead me believe it's an "ankle mobility" issue, however, I get the impression there is a camp (Barbell medicine) that doesn't acknowledge flexibility is ever a problem and that proper squat form can be attained without working on mobility. Is that an accurate summary?

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          • #6
            Have you ever tried squatting barefoot?

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            • #7
              To my eye the bar travels forward as you descend, causing your center of mass to be forward of the middle of your foot. It’s something I had a big problem with and still have to think about from time to time. Shoes will help, because they’ll provide a stable surface to balance on. Barefoot would be better than soft soles shoes. The cue I would recommend is just keeping your balance mid foot or focus on keeping the bar path straight and vertical.

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              • #8
                You SHOULD buy weightlifting shoes, as I think they would probably fix your problem. You could try to keep your thorax a bit more extended and sit back more as you squat, since the weight is a little forward on your toes.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Rubendanger View Post
                  Have you ever tried squatting barefoot?
                  No, would love to try, but it was -7 when I got up to lift today, so I'll have to wait a couple months anyway to give it a go.

                  For those suggesting weight lifting shoes, do they actually "solve" the problem or do they just mask it? What's the difference between using the shoes or a pair of 10lbs iron plates under my heels?

                  Finally, any thoughts on using plates under my toes instead of my heels to force me to sit back a bit more?

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                  • #10
                    For me, the nice part of using the heeled shoe is that they provide a really solid, flat base and I feel very connected to the floor, throughout my foot (hope that makes sense).

                    My thought about squatting barefoot is that at the very least, you can better visualize what your feet are doing during the movement. The first thing I thought when I saw the video is that maybe your shoes are a little "squishy" like a typical athletic style shoe, so maybe you just have a slightly less-stable base than what a lifting shoe or barefoot could provide? I wouldn't want to make any further purchases until I knew what my foot was really doing, you know? Maybe you don't really have the "problem" you think you have? Maybe by seeing what's going on down there some of the more knowledgeable folks here can give you better information.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Smokes View Post

                      No, would love to try, but it was -7 when I got up to lift today, so I'll have to wait a couple months anyway to give it a go.

                      For those suggesting weight lifting shoes, do they actually "solve" the problem or do they just mask it? What's the difference between using the shoes or a pair of 10lbs iron plates under my heels?

                      Finally, any thoughts on using plates under my toes instead of my heels to force me to sit back a bit more?
                      I think it’s important at this point to ask what you think the problem here really is. There are a lot of good responses in this thread, but your questions in this post don’t seem to be aligned with the reasoning provided in those responses.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Millzners View Post

                        I think it’s important at this point to ask what you think the problem here really is. There are a lot of good responses in this thread, but your questions in this post don’t seem to be aligned with the reasoning provided in those responses.
                        It's a good question. I'm honestly not sure. Whenever I squat (nothing on my back) without holding onto anything and continue to descend below parallel, I fall backward. If I was ok with squatting just to parallel, based on the videos I've been taking, I can squat without my heels coming up and nearly a vertical bar path.

                        That last 1-2" results in my heels coming up and the bar taking a less vertical path.

                        I don't consider it to be a large enough deficiency to stop all squatting and focus on fixing it, however, I'd like to (especially in warm up sets) work over time at correcting it (or with flexibility exercises, or with shoes, or with giving LBBS a try, etc.).

                        As for question alignment, I thought I was asking something reasonable based on the information provided, but maybe I'm an idiot?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Smokes View Post

                          It's a good question. I'm honestly not sure. Whenever I squat (nothing on my back) without holding onto anything and continue to descend below parallel, I fall backward. If I was ok with squatting just to parallel, based on the videos I've been taking, I can squat without my heels coming up and nearly a vertical bar path.

                          That last 1-2" results in my heels coming up and the bar taking a less vertical path.

                          I don't consider it to be a large enough deficiency to stop all squatting and focus on fixing it, however, I'd like to (especially in warm up sets) work over time at correcting it (or with flexibility exercises, or with shoes, or with giving LBBS a try, etc.).

                          As for question alignment, I thought I was asking something reasonable based on the information provided, but maybe I'm an idiot?
                          It sounds to me like you are having problems with balance.

                          What do you think it would take to squat an empty bar below parallel while keeping your balance on the middle of your foot?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Millzners View Post

                            It sounds to me like you are having problems with balance.

                            What do you think it would take to squat an empty bar below parallel while keeping your balance on the middle of your foot?
                            I believe I will fall backwards. I will try today with squats and report back thanks!

                            EDIT: Ok, so I did empty bar and sat back, tried to go below parallel and....i would lose balance going backward
                            Last edited by Smokes; 02-17-2020, 07:20 PM.

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                            • #15
                              The weight is drifting way in front of mid foot, it should ideally move straight up and down. Try some tempo squats with a lighter weight, slowing things down and focusing on keeping balanced on the mid foot should help

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