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The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
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Post: #51
RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
(06-04-2015 08:52 AM)StrikeBack Wrote:  Samseau: I'm 5'7" 160lb.

Here's the squat WR holder in my weight class, he's 5'9"




First: You've sold me, I'll try doing squats below the parallel line. I've been trying them out and I feel more pressure in the knees but way less in the hips, and my hips got fucked up recently so I'll switch and see what happens.

Second: In that vid, in the first squat he does, he does not go below the parallel line. Yet in the second set of squats, of three reps, he does go below the parallel line just slightly. He's also wearing knee braces if it makes any difference. Either way, this vid is confusing because he does both.

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(This post was last modified: 06-05-2015 06:44 AM by Samseau.)
06-05-2015 06:44 AM
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Post: #52
RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
When lifting at the extremes, I tend to drive with my hips faster than my back comes up, resulting in what I can only describe as leaning over too far.

I've been told it is because of weaker lower back muscles.

Is this right, and what is the best way to work on this?

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06-05-2015 10:57 AM
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Post: #53
RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
(06-05-2015 12:13 AM)philosophical_recovery Wrote:  Actually, taking a closer look at that video, he lets his knees come inward. Especially on that last rep where he drops it after completing the movement. Isn't that more of an issue than knees over toes anyway?

(06-05-2015 02:05 AM)Jetlagged Wrote:  A slight knees in cue actually helps me out of the hole.

Different from caving in.

This is one of my bug bears Big Grin I'll have to do a separate post on it soon.

Yes a slight knees in will help you, but only if it's on the way up.

Knees in on the way down = horrible

Knees in on the way up = normal

You'll see the latter a lot in all weightlifting squats and many raw powerlifting squats.

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06-06-2015 12:42 AM
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RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
(06-05-2015 05:28 AM)Laser Wrote:  One question: I found the bar tended to rest in the tops of my palms where the fingers meet the palm. The weight would bend my hands backwards, stressing my risks. Very uncomfortable. Should I be trying to lay the bar more across the base of my palm?

Neither. Your palms do not take any weight. Your upper back does. Before you take the bar out of the rack, flex your upper back as if you're going for a bodybuilding lat spread pose. This makes your upper back bigger and allows the bar to rest on it. You tighten this up again and again at the top after each rep, before going to the next rep.

You should be able to wiggle your fingers around and open your hands a bit with the bar on your back. If you can't and you start to feel the weight rolling down your palms, either your upper back is getting fatigued (meaning the base is getting smaller) or the bar position is too low.

This is where having strong big lats with good endurance training for them helps in the squats. It's also the reason why high bar squat is easier for high reps (8+, widowmaker 20, crazier rep ranges) than low bar squat.

There is always a risk with the low bar squat where your upper back fatigues and the bar rolls slightly down and hurts your wrists or forearms. This is why you see powerlifters wear wrist wraps while squatting as an insurance policy.

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06-06-2015 12:50 AM
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Post: #55
RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
(06-05-2015 06:44 AM)Samseau Wrote:  First: You've sold me, I'll try doing squats below the parallel line. I've been trying them out and I feel more pressure in the knees but way less in the hips, and my hips got fucked up recently so I'll switch and see what happens.

Second: In that vid, in the first squat he does, he does not go below the parallel line. Yet in the second set of squats, of three reps, he does go below the parallel line just slightly. He's also wearing knee braces if it makes any difference. Either way, this vid is confusing because he does both.

Cheers, if you switch, remember to go light at first. Give your body time to adjust.

It is confusing because of context. I posted that particular video because I wanted an example of a taller lifter (for his weight class) being the best squatter. For him, the context was a max attempt session where he wanted to see what he could do in competition. In comp, a powerlifter only need to squat just below parallel to get white lights. During warmups, he'd prepare max tightness in the body and catch the rebound early so he might actually bounce before hitting depth, but with the max weight on the bar (closer to comp attempts) he will be pushed below parallel with the same tightness and rebound. It is a very competition specific session and not a regular training session. If you watch his other in-season squat training videos, he'd squat consistently to depth every rep.

Those are neoprene knee sleeves not braces. They only really help to keep the knees warm. Feels nice at the bottom of the squat, but they don't provide any rebound unlike knee wraps.

(06-05-2015 10:57 AM)storm Wrote:  When lifting at the extremes, I tend to drive with my hips faster than my back comes up, resulting in what I can only describe as leaning over too far.

I've been told it is because of weaker lower back muscles.

Is this right, and what is the best way to work on this?

This is commonly misdiagnosed. What people see (visually) failing at the end is what fail last, not what fail first. Strong quads and abs are what keep you upright while squatting. When they fail (actual muscle weakness, poor position or lack of awareness, or all combined), you will lean over to try using your back to push the weight up. Your back is the strongest, not weakest, which is why it fails last.

Strong quads allow you to stay more upright thus gaining a favourable back angle for the back to work more easily, and also keep your hips closer to the bar so you can push the hips forward (by squeezing the glutes hard) as soon as you get out of the hole. THAT is hip drive, not pushing your ass upwards.

Basically I'm saying you need strong legs to squat heavy weights. Which used to make a lot of sense until people got distracted by bending over to use some weird posterior chain to squat. Tongue

The other possibility, if you feel your legs are not actually challenged much, is that you have a significantly weak thoracic / upper back, and due to that, you descend slightly off balance so that the bar tips you a bit forward on the way down already. As you come up, in order to regain balance, you need to bend over more and put yourself in a poor position. But losing balance is an easy thing to notice, so most people wouldn't confuse it with weak muscle groups.

In powerlifting, one easy way to figure this out is to check out the differences between someone's low bar squat and his high bar or front squat (often he's already doing one or both as assistant exercises). The last two are much more quad dominant so if he has weak quads, the ratio will be very poor and the tipping over will be worse in both.

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06-06-2015 01:14 AM
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Post: #56
RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
(06-06-2015 12:42 AM)StrikeBack Wrote:  
(06-05-2015 12:13 AM)philosophical_recovery Wrote:  Actually, taking a closer look at that video, he lets his knees come inward. Especially on that last rep where he drops it after completing the movement. Isn't that more of an issue than knees over toes anyway?

(06-05-2015 02:05 AM)Jetlagged Wrote:  A slight knees in cue actually helps me out of the hole.

Different from caving in.

This is one of my bug bears Big Grin I'll have to do a separate post on it soon.

Yes a slight knees in will help you, but only if it's on the way up.

Knees in on the way down = horrible

Knees in on the way up = normal

You'll see the latter a lot in all weightlifting squats and many raw powerlifting squats.

I'm doing this on the way up only.

I want to take videos of my form now lol

You should seriously consider online video coàching, I would be interested.
06-06-2015 02:38 AM
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Post: #57
RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
(06-06-2015 01:14 AM)StrikeBack Wrote:  This is commonly misdiagnosed. What people see (visually) failing at the end is what fail last, not what fail first. Strong quads and abs are what keep you upright while squatting. When they fail (actual muscle weakness, poor position or lack of awareness, or all combined), you will lean over to try using your back to push the weight up. Your back is the strongest, not weakest, which is why it fails last.

Strong quads allow you to stay more upright thus gaining a favourable back angle for the back to work more easily, and also keep your hips closer to the bar so you can push the hips forward (by squeezing the glutes hard) as soon as you get out of the hole. THAT is hip drive, not pushing your ass upwards.

Basically I'm saying you need strong legs to squat heavy weights. Which used to make a lot of sense until people got distracted by bending over to use some weird posterior chain to squat. Tongue

The other possibility, if you feel your legs are not actually challenged much, is that you have a significantly weak thoracic / upper back, and due to that, you descend slightly off balance so that the bar tips you a bit forward on the way down already. As you come up, in order to regain balance, you need to bend over more and put yourself in a poor position. But losing balance is an easy thing to notice, so most people wouldn't confuse it with weak muscle groups.

In powerlifting, one easy way to figure this out is to check out the differences between someone's low bar squat and his high bar or front squat (often he's already doing one or both as assistant exercises). The last two are much more quad dominant so if he has weak quads, the ratio will be very poor and the tipping over will be worse in both.

Good post. I will look into it.

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06-06-2015 01:37 PM
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RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
== Pause Squat ==

Once you've had a bit of experience with the squat, you'll quickly find that the two most difficult things about this lift are balance and strength coming out of the hole (i.e the deepest position).

=== Balance ===

Balance is hard, because you are very top heavy and the base is relatively small. This is one reason why deadlift is so much easier despite working the same muscles, and also why you can squat a lot more in a machine, where balance is a non-issue vs free barbell squat. This also explains why being fat helps, despite fat not actually producing any force to move the weight, because it means a bigger base and easier to balance. The reverse of this is that when you get leaner (without dropping muscle mass), you will lose squat strength initially due to the change in balance unless you're aware of this and prepare for it. Knowing this little fact will help you plan the cutting phase much better, so you can at least maintain strength if not outright getting stronger despite losing weight.

=== The Hole ===

The hole is the hardest position in the squat as you simply have poor leverage in everything there. It's the weakest point for all the prime movers: quads, glutes, low back, hamstrings; even ankles and calves are most challenged there. It's also the most demanding position for mobility. Pretty much everyone's sticking point in the raw squat (regardless of style) is either right in the hole or just out of it after the initial bounce. This same sticking point is also where people lose their balance. Many novices (and even very advanced lifters) would have pretty shitty form in and coming out of the hole if you capture their set on video and freeze the frames right at those points.

=== The Fix ===

To get better in the squat, you will need to directly address these common weaknesses. Fortunately, there is an exercise that can fix all of them: the pause variation of the squat.

The execution is simple: squat down to the hole, pause there for X counts, then come up as fast as possible.

=== How does it help? ===

By pausing and thus spending as much time as you can in this weakest position, you develop more specific strength and balance there. As you get stronger and more comfortable in that position, you will fear the hole less and less. As you have to pause and stay balanced, you will feel exactly where the weight is over your mid-feet, and through which vertical line you direct your energy upwards. As you have to pause there for time, you will learn how to stay really tight and engage your core muscles more. Finally, as you have no bounce out of the hole, you will develop way more starting strength from a dead stop (a real type of strength, not the novice program) as well as the skill to catch the bounce, when you go back to a normal squat, and accelerate on top of it.

An additional bonus is that as you pause, you increase time under tension, and that helps muscle hypertrophy.

=== Implementation ===

There are two common ways: pause the lighter warmup reps of your regular squat workouts, until you feel confident enough to do regular touch n go; add a separate workout slot just for the pause squat. You can also combine both.

If you have a separate workout for it, usually you would want to pause at most 2-3s per rep, and maybe 3 reps on average (5 is the maximum). Total volume (rep x set) should be kept less than 20, so think 6x3 or 6x2 typically. During the pause, you hold your breath and stay tight. Weight therefore must be light, at most maybe 80% of your 1RM.

There is a special variation of the pause squat called the pause breathing squat, where you actually breathe throughout the pause and stay there for longer, like 10s, or even more. It has some other special benefits, like learning to breathe under high tension, and feeling exactly how tight you need to be for a certain weight (thus using your tension more efficiently). If you want to try this, keep the weight even lighter than regular pause squat, and only use it for a high bar squat provided you can go all the way to the bottom, resting your arse on the heels. You won't be able to pause mid-air and keep a much higher tension while breathing in and out for 10s.

While pausing, regardless of style, you will need to be mentally prepared as if you're a loaded spring ready to launch the moment the pause is over. When you come up, do so as aggressively as possible. Don't pause as a dead stop, then come up slowly. That doesn't help, and if you need to take weight off the bar to be able to go faster, then do so.

Happy Pause Squatting!

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06-10-2015 07:34 AM
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Post: #59
RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
I figure that Mark Rippetoe's massive chapter on the subject in his "Starting Strength" chronicle takes care of the matter.
07-21-2015 12:37 AM
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RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
A guy who used to lift at my gym was in the Columbus, OH powerlifting scene. (not a big community from what I hear down there). A handful of their best lifters would exhibit at the Arnold Classic every year. This particular dude has a pHd in exercise physiology and is part of the supplement test panel for GNC. (He runs 15 GNC stores in my area).

He showed me an exercise for increasing strength in he weakest part of the squat (getting out of the hole), that involved (to the best of my recollection), putting 175, then 225 (or more) as you build up strength, on a smith machine, padding the bar and literally lifting the smith bar up while it's balanced on your upper glutes and lower back. This is definitely an advanced move, but the range of motion was fairly short, maybe 12" tops, just enough to full break out of the hole, then slowly lower back down into it. (I'll check with him and update this post to be sure this was exactly how it was done).

He said one guy in the group was 5'8", about 175 lbs and had a near world record squat for his weight. He used this method to increase his squat substantially and gain control and stability coming out of the hole.

Also, for deads, he would spend a day dividing each part of the dead lift down and focusing on those parts individually for overall dead lift 1RM weight increases a few days after.

He would do elevated deads lowering the contact point of the weight below his standing level by standing on 2-45s under each foot (going full range), and also rack pulls at a few different lift points for the upper part of the lift. He put on about 100lbs to his deadlift in very short order, maybe 2 weeks, using this method.
(This post was last modified: 07-22-2015 01:25 AM by Ingocnito.)
07-22-2015 01:20 AM
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RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
(07-21-2015 12:37 AM)Mess O. Wrote:  I figure that Mark Rippetoe's massive chapter on the subject in his "Starting Strength" chronicle takes care of the matter.

Have you read literally any of the thread?

Thanks for posting this Strikeback, would rep again if possible. A decade of yoga and my first coach starting me on body weight, then moving me to goblet squats is I think the reason why I have good balance and ROM in deep squats.

I don't shift a lot of weight though in my upper limits. I will employ the setup techniques you posted and go from there.

Thanks again.

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07-22-2015 06:21 AM
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RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
Incognito: I've seen that sort of deadlift training, but have never heard of the squat one before. Sounds interesting, will check it out.

You're welcome Ollave Smile

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07-22-2015 08:37 AM
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RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
And here's Klokov's paused squat.





I think almost everything got covered thoroughly in the thread apart from the most important part of the gear - your shoes (unless I've missed it somewhere). It's fine to start in any type of shoes, however squating/deadlifting/etc. of more than your 1 x body mass will become less efficient (or even dangerous) due to a simple fact typical sneakers or sports shoes' foam/rubber is supposed to cushion much less weight than your body + 1x body weight or more as well as the shoe tread is complex and focused on high flexion. Non-lifting shoes do not offer stability and will shift the weight onto your heels, thus you'll need to compensate tilting forward. I'd rather suggest squating barefoot than in causal sneakers or sports shoes.

Weightlifting shoes aren't cheap, but there is a selection for budget conscious people as well as for people who need or want performace shoes (many pros wear Nike Romaleos). I think, currently, on average, the likes of Adidas and Nike are most popular and respected. Adidas offers them online in UK, for example at their Adidas online weightlifting shoes shop.

These shoes will allow you to transfer more power to your overall squat or other barbell exercise due to having very stable, wide and flat shoe-sole platform made of very dense rubber (or wood) as well as almost no tread and a very stiff sole which doesn't compress (unless you lift really heavy weights). They will also offer a bit more protection against injuries or if a barbell/plate would fall on your foot. Durability will be in line with the price - for a recreational lifter, a pair should last at least a few years.

If you decide (and you should, if you are serious about compound exercies, be it squat, deadlift or some variation of CrossFit) to get some, there's quite a bit info on the internet, for example a good place to start is why you need weightlifing shoes.

Generaly, All Things Gym is an excellent source of into regarding, you guessed it right, all things gym related.

Excellent instructional videos via youtube I'd recommend are provided by California Strength (these guys are pros). It is directed towards olympic weightlifting, but there's a section devoted to squating too.

Happy lifting, gentle(tough)men.

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07-23-2015 08:24 PM
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RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
^^^^ Couldn't agree more about shoes. Especially when you're squatting in the 350lbs+ range. (same with deads) Think about it, one little extra cushiness in the soul could easily tweak any chain of tendons/ligaments with that extreme pressure. Being "grounded" properly is an absolute must.

I really dig the Addidas ones, I would avoid the "air" heel ones however. Thanks for the links.
07-23-2015 10:13 PM
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RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
Ive been using the VS athletics for years now. They are great, cheap and last forever. Guys that competed in weightlifting at a semi advanced level from my gym said that the nike romaleos II is one of the best out there for what its worth.
So i just found out that sleeping in a fetal position is the worst thing possible for your hip flexors, no wonder i woke up with pain. Vincent vinturi and strike back thanks for the suggestion but im not able to do yoga at the moment.
07-24-2015 12:24 AM
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RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
Yeah with the shoes, you want non-compressible soles.

As for heeled shoes vs flat shoes, I find myself switching back and forth between them for the back squat. I have the Nike Romaleu 2 and barefoot shoes, and have the mobility to squat in either shoes. I've found that it depends on what kind of shoes I wear in daily life and other physical activities. If I wear heeled shoes elsewhere, I will feel more balanced in them and find the Nike perfect. If I wear flat shoes normally, I will prefer the same while squatting. Currently as I wear flat shoes most of the time, I'm wearing barefoot shoes (Inov8 / Vivobarefoot, cost about $50~70 a pair) for squatting and deadlifting. I still use the Nike for high bar and front squats though, and benching as well.

Guys who travel a lot may find that learning how to squat in flat / barefoot shoes is better, because you can pack lighter.

For pure performance, just wear whichever makes you feel more balanced and stronger.

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07-26-2015 03:34 AM
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Post: #67
RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
I just got two pairs of shoes to try from amazon. One is primals 2 by lems which seems like a great walking shoe and I think you can squat in them. Pretty flat in general although not as flat as a converse, its very similar to a New Balance Minimus, which I have been squatting and deadlifting in for years. Second pair is a Skora which has a curved heel and allows some rocking at the heel. Not sure about that second one for lifting, but would be great for sprinting.
(This post was last modified: 07-26-2015 10:07 AM by kbell.)
07-26-2015 10:06 AM
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Post: #68
RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
Just came across this video with one of the powerlifting greats, Ed Coan.

He shares some really good cues here like:

- Opening the back of the groin

- Zipping up all of your back muscles

- Keeping triceps tight against the body

...and others.




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07-28-2015 01:17 AM
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RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
Yeah was showing that very Ed Coan video to my dad for learning the squat. It's a great one, from a legend of the sport no less.

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07-28-2015 09:36 AM
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RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
A bit off topic but indirectely related. Did you guys notice a significant improvement with your hips thrust work due to heavy squating when banging chicks?

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07-30-2015 10:15 AM
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RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
I find it has more in common with heavy KB swings for high reps, barbell hip thrusts and deadlifts (hip hinging exercises, essentially) than squats.

Heavy squats feel better when you're a fat fuck, and not necessarily fit either. Tongue

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07-30-2015 11:46 PM
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RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
How 'bout Mehdi's "Stronglifts 5x5"?
08-01-2015 12:03 AM
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RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
Finally got the chance to read through this whole thread. Epic breakdown. Thumb up

Any advice for tall lifters?

Squatting is the only lift I have issues with. My bodyweight squat is fine, but when I add weight, butt wink seems to irritate my lower back. I substitute with Split Squats and Lunges, but still desire to squat.

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Post: #74
RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
As Ollave rather crassly asserted a while back, I need to go back through this one myself before making a serious attempt to chime in. I do still feel that SS presents a solid cache of info on the big lifts. I'd like to hear of some other texts that can offer a comparable contribution.
01-09-2016 02:45 AM
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VincentVinturi Offline
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Post: #75
RE: The "Squat Like A Boss" clinic
@StrikeBack

I have a few questions if I may please. Smile


1. I've been squatting high bar for about a year (which is how long I've been "seriously" lifting.)

I've recently started experimenting with the low bar position and I just can't for the life of me get the bar to stay in place.

I've played a lot with rolling the bar this way and that, raising my elbows, etc, etc

I may be wrong but my conclusion is that the musculature of my upper back doesn't create a sufficient 'shelf' for the bar to sit on even with my elbows lifted and my grip quite close together (as close as I can muster without putting my wrists into flexion or extension).

Is this something that you just figure out with time and/or can you recommend an exercise to expand the back?

I like high bar squats but I definitely feel like my quads do more work than the rest of the muscles involved and I'm hoping the low bar position can help me develop glutes, hams, etc.


2. If I'm not mistaken you described the Rippetoe style squat as unnatural.

Could you elaborate on that?

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01-11-2016 10:32 AM
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