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Wednesday, June 23. 2021
Image shows two things: the difference between half squat and full squat, and terrible form in the second image
Squats (and deadlifts) are the two most functional muscular exercises. The former is getting up, and the latter is picking up stuff.
Squats are known as "The King of Exercises" because so many muscle groups are stressed. They are also said to be beneficial for knee joints.
Squats come in many forms: the basic barbell back squat (a power lift), and calisthenics like body-weight squats, squat-and press, side squats, squat jumps, heavy ball wall throws, etc.
I have been thinking about how to deepen my barbell squats. With body-weight or hand weights, I can do full squats easily, but with heavier weight I do not go below 45 degrees. It's partly confidence and partly weakness.
To do full squats with barbell weights (instead of half-squats, 90 degrees) I think I need to reset my barbell squat program with the plain bar (45 lbs) or light weights and to try to work up quickly from there. I'm convinced that the full squat is the real deal.
What about you?
Below the fold, image depicting all of the muscles engaged in a full squat. She's using dumbells, but it is not as if gals cannot do barbell squats. They sure can, and using the bar makes it more reliable to keep a chest-up posture. On the other hand, dumbell squats get you low if you touch the dumbells to the ground...but on the third hand, barbell back squats let you squat with more weight than your grip is strong.
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Rippetoe would disagree with the correct vs. incorrect pictures.
I think you want your head up and your chest out as much as possible during the lift
You are correct, Larry.
And Ripoetoe addresses it in the link above " Squats Are Safe, But You’re Probably Doing Them Wrong". I was concerned about this misdirection also.
Her form is basically the same as using the hex or trap bar. I think it’s far safer using the hex bar than the traditional squat or deadlift on my 50 year old back.
The so called correct squat is a high bar squat the second is a low bar squat. The first quad dominate the second is hip dominate. The first requires a great deal of ankle mobility or lifting shoes. Notice the distance the knees are in front to the toes. Most trainers discourage the knees going that far forward in front of the toes. The other picture is closer to the supposed bad form - notice the back angle and the hip crease.
Yep - I find high-bar squats hell on my knees and won't do them.
The second image isn't wrong by much but is unbalanced.
BirdDog's premise that: "Image shows two things: the difference between half squat and full squat, and terrible form in the second image" is incorrect. As you have correctly pointed out is that what the image shows is a difference in able mobility. When one has poor ankle mobility, it is impossible to squat with an "upright" chest and the squatter is essentially forced into a low bar squat (or performing a good morning exercise or a face plant if the bar is kept high).
Regarding not permitting knees to go past toes: Indeed, many trainers still adhere to this maxim, but it has been dispelled. Still, the "this is how I learned it" mentality often takes the place of keeping up with the literature and actual experience.
The first picture is a high bar squat. The second is a high bar squat attempting to use low bar form, thus the bar is over the front of the foot and unbalanced. If the bar in the 2nd photo was in the proper position then it would be correct.
I perform low bar squats below parallel. Very tough but after 18 months of form issues I'm finally starting to see results.
A proper explanation of the lowbar squat:
I appreciate the comments. There are many opinions on these things.
Like Adam, I've been using the low-bar squat as taught by Rippetoe, although for not as long (about 9 weeks in Oct - Nov during which time I got up to 175 lbs, then after a long holiday and laziness layoff, back at it since early Feb and back up to 110 lbs this week). Just turned 56 (weight currently ~155). My goal is to get to around 225 by the end of the year by adding some weight every session - right now that's 5 lbs 3 times over the course of 2 weeks, but I'll cut that in half soon I think, to keep form from falling apart.
I prefer the Rippetoe method because of all the variations I've looked at, it's the most natural, i.e., based on how the human body is constructed and moves, and in my opinion is therefore the "safest" method.
Good for you. I started the Rippetoe stuff a few years ago. I'm 52 now and at least once a week I do squats for real. I find that around 275 is about the upper limit for my knees but a few sets there gives me a pretty good muscle burn for a few days.
Another vote for Rippetoe low bar squat. Getting below parallel activates the hamstring coming out of the bottom -- gives a complete knee/leg/glutes/back workout.
The way I learned to get low is squat down with just the 45lb bar and stay in the bottom for 3 - 20 seconds. Shift your weight around, stretch and get used to being in a full squat. Lifting shoes with a decent heel wedge will also help if you have poor ankle mobility.
Focus on form and depth. The weight will follow.
The low bar back squat (LBBS) as taught by Rippetoe is king, if you want to get strong.
"Low" meaning the bar is placed below the spine of the scapula. In that position, your back necessarily will be more horizontal so as to keep the bar over your mid foot and maintain your balance.
Because your back is more horizontal (and the hip angle is more closed) your hamstrings are engaged. With hamstrings engaged, they provide a posterior force to counteract the anterior force from your quads.
As you descend, shove your knees out HARD and keep them there as you come up out of the hole. By shoving your knees out, your femur will be parallel to your feet and that removes any lateral forces on your knees. Further, your adductors are engaged, adding to the muscle mass employed.
In other words, the LBBS is a hips exercise and a knees-neutral event.
Performed correctly, the LBBS uses the most muscle mass, over a full range of motion. Using more muscle mass means you will be able to lift more, and thus become stronger. Full range of motion so you develop strength in every position that the joints can operate.
Now, I don't like talking about myself, but my intent is to show you that the LBBS is effective and, if programmed intelligently, will produce results. I'm 70, 5'6", 193#. I've been following Rippetoe's Starting Strength program for 7 years. My squat workout last week was 285# for 3 sets of 5. Believe me, I'm nothing special. The program works.
Cooter, thanks for writing all that so I didn't have to! I've been following SS for about the same amount of time as you (I'm 60 now) and have same interpretation and opinion of Rippetoe's methods as you.
Nice work with the squats, keep it up!
Folks, Starting Strength is a game changer. Period.
It is not about body building. It is about developing FUNCTIONAL total body strength for quality of life. It is not about exercising muscle groups as done on the various machines. It is about strengthening normal human movement patterns - squatting, pressing and pulling - and this is especially important for geezers like RJP and me so you can effortlessly haul your groceries, lift a heavy box overhead to put on a shelf, cut the grass, get up off the toilet without assistance, throw your grandkids into the pool.
When you exercise with machines, your movement pattern is constrained by the geometry of the equipment. When you stand on your feet and squat, press and deadlift, the movement pattern is YOURS.
When you exercise with machines, generally you are exercising one muscle group, e.g., biceps or quads. You should then exercise the opposing muscle group, e.g., triceps or hams. But, what is the appropriate load for the opposing muscle group? When you stand on your feet and squat, press and deadlift, each muscle group is involved and contributing their appropriate share of the load.
IT DOES NOT MATTER YOUR AGE! Your muscles WILL respond to the stimuli.
Finally, you don't start off trying to squat 200#. You start with a weight that you can comfortably handle for 3 sets of 5, even if it is the empty bar (45#), or less, if necessary. The key is that you continue to add to the stress, be it more weight and/or more reps. Your body will respond, adapt, and get stronger.
You sure know how to hurt a guy! "Geezers like us". lol. True statement but still hate to see it written out like that! :-)
Again, everything you say is spot on. The only quibble is the use of the term "functional". This implies that there are different types of strength, when in actuality, strength is strength, and being stronger improves all your interactions with the outside physical world, and the compound barbell movements are the best way to develop strength. I know you (Cooter) understand this, but just wanted to clarify for others.
Glad to see Rippetoe and Starting Strength mentioned here.
A useful framework for all this is Dan John's 5 basic human movements:
Squat (pelvis goes down between legs)
Hinge (buttocks go back then snap forward - deadlift, broad jump)
Sometimes he adds a.6th movement like twisting.
His concept of squat vs hinge is clarifying and practical, and works well as visual imagery with Rippetoe's instructions.
The figure A "correct" method will destroy your knee. The calf acts as a fulcrum to pry your knee joint apart. Ask me how I know this from doing high school sports.
That deep squatting will damage the knees was a theory of Karl Klein. It has been thoroughly discredited.
Unfortunately, many false myths are perpetuated either by the "that's how I learned it or did it decades ago" mindset or the "my single anecdotal report trumps your double blind, randomized trial with n=1000" attitude.