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Barbell Confused with Low Bar Back Squat Form?

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Hello. I hope someone can assist because I really do not know where to go next?

I have been following a full body routine for 4 months now & I have had really bad issue with my form for the Low Bar Back squat. When I first started I was very weak & could only manage the bar & now I am still at a low 140lb for 3 sets of 5. I have deloaded several times to try & perfect my form. A couple of weeks ago I thought I had cracked it, I actually thought I had mastered my form. I was posting on a form check thread on another website & the general feedback was that my form now looked good. So I like to get different views & I posted the same form on another website which was a gymnastic site in the mobility section because I think I have some mobility issues & they said it was extremely bad & I should stop immediately as its dangerous!

I have been trying to follow Mark Rippetoe style squat which is in the Starting strength book but now I am thinking is this the right style? He has you looking down on the floor in front of you but the people on the Gymnastic website said this is wrong & I should be looking straight ahead which will keep my back tight? So basically I have no idea what I should be doing & even whether I should continue. I am hypermobile so I really want to build some strength around my joints to stabilise them for when I get older.

One thing to add is that I appear to get a hip sway to the right on the descent & ascent. My hip feels tight on the right side & I injured my left quad last week when it felt as if most of the weight was on my left leg. I think the tight hip may be causing me to favour the left leg? That is why the first video is at a really low weight.

I would really appreciate it if someone could take a look at some of my form video & tell me where I am going wrong.

This is a new technique I tried today looking straight ahead.

This is the technique which is supposed to be the Mark Rippetoe way & I first had people say the form was ok & then others say it was absolutely awful.

Good you want to learn to squat and improve your form. Main thing I see is you don't know how to keep your lower back neutral and use the extensors and other core muscles to maintain posture- especially on the rise and racking the bar. If I were coaching you, I'd advise doing 100 bodyweight squats a day, starting with maybe 10x10, working up to 1x50 then 5x10, then up to 100 in a set. Then start with the bar again. I'd forget Rippetoe, and try to find a real coach who can put hands on and give you details. Maybe you can find an SFL nearby? You're not a powerlifter (yet?), and I assume you're not a BB, so don't worry about "low bar" or any other type of squat when you're learning- big thing is to give your body time to learn to move as one unit. Just need to find the right spot for the bar on your anatomy- groove in your delts or wherever gives you proper leverage with great form. Look in the blog here, search SFLs, or check out some Marty Gallagher maybe, for better instruction. Good luck with it! Going slower and learning proper form in beginning will save you a bad lower back injury.
Best option would be to meet up with skilled coach and get an FMS screening.

Just from a quick look at the vids I see two things:
a) looks like not breaking parallel in the second vid and barely breacking it in the first, could be the angle though.
b) hips shoot up first out of the hole. Could be lacking ankle dorsiflexion, weak quads in relation to posterior chain muscles or something else, that's why personally meeting with a coach and getting an FMS would be the best. He/she could tell you where the problems is and how to fix it.

The FMS and coaching will cost money and time, but it's worth it.
Don't try to fix your squat on your own.

Any particular reasons why you want to squat?
The barbell back squat is one of the best exercises there is, but IMO it's too dangerous for most people.
Don't get me wrong it's not the exercise that's the problem, it's how people perform it - "The squat doesn't hurt you, the way you squat hurts you!" - while this is true, 99% of the people out there have too many imbalances or are simply just not made to squat with a bar across their back and they will most likely never get rid of all the imbalances or it takes years to reach acceptable form (acceptable, not perfect!).
Despite how many people (including coaches like Rippetoe) tell you that it's natural to squat, it isn't!
Yes, squatting with just your bodyweight is, but not with a metal bar across your back that drastically limits your movement and is loaded up with heavy weight.
If you're not tested in the squat (e.g. because you're a powerlifter) I personally wouldn't do it and wouldn't prescribe it for others. For GPP, bodybuilding/hypertrophy and even performance (running faster, jumping higher etc.) there are alternatives that are as good as the barbell backsquat, but far more forgiving when you have imbalances or your form is not 100% perfect.

Front Squats, Zercher Squats, Goblet Squats, Single Leg Variations (like Bulgarian Split Squats), Leg Press, Backwards Sled Drags, etc. - There are so many ways to train your legs/quads for different things (strength, hypertrophy or both) without using the back squat.
IMO there's one or two exercies for everyone, you just need to find it instead of waisting years on an exercise leading to no gains and possibly injury, just because someone told you it's the king of exercises, a must-do or whatever phrase they use.

And if you're after mass and someone tells you that you can't reach maximum mass without the backsquat than that's complete broscience b...s***. A combination of front or zercher squats + deadlifts will put as much mass on your frame as backsquats + deadlifts.
@bflare, welcome to the StrongFirst forum.

I will give you simple advice - find a teacher, a school, an approach. Stick with it. Take advice from that teacher/school and not other people/websites.

If you like StrongFirst, take our barbell course and squat the way we'll teach you, which isn't going to be exactly the same as anyone else does.

So basically I have no idea what I should be doing & even whether I should continue.
You shouldn't continue - you should get your thinking organized, decide on a path, and then start as if a beginner. If here, take our course; if Starting Strength, take their course, go on their forum; if something else, take their course, read their book, and follow their advice.

Sorry for the "tough love" but it's Fathers' Day so I'm allowed to do that. :)

The newer video looks better than the old video as your back angle stays more constant. The camera angles make it hard to see everything but I'm not sure if you go down enough.

In general I don't see anything horrible in the videos, especially the newer one. I would personally just keep at it.
The new one is good. I wouldn't worry too much about the parallel in this one, but it would be good to see the same technique squat from the front. Anyways, if your knees aligned the same way as your toes, both ~45 out, you'll have all the free way to do the ATTG squat.
As for the first, some that told you it's bad, had their reasons to say so. I beleive that shoooting hips out first is, among other things being said here, because of the lack of the proper upper body tension, shoulders blades locking and head position.
But, as rightly was said, it's nothing like going to an expert and fixing it.
Any particular reasons why you want to squat?

Thanks for your reply. I have a few reasons why I want to squat.

The main reason is to build strength in my legs as I am hypermobile. My dad is hypermobile too & at the age of 59 he is lacking any muscle & due to this he has problem walking etc. I do not want to end up like this. The advice I have been given is to strengthen the muscles around the joints. Squating also has other benefits like increasing bone density etc.

I have chosen barbell squats probably through my lack of knowledge. Everything I read seems to be negative against anything other than barbell squats. For instance if you don't do barbell squats you don't train your stabilizer muscles or your basically inferior.

The last reason is that my routine calls for squats. If there is a reasonable alternative then I am willing to give it a go as long as it builds strength & mass. I seem to have an hard time quitting on things & giving up, this is why I keep continuing trying to get my form correct. Thanks again.
If here, take our course; if Starting Strength, take their course, go on their forum; if something else, take their course, read their book, and follow their advice.

Sorry for the "tough love" but it's Fathers' Day so I'm allowed to do that.

Thanks for your reply. Tough love is appreciated :) I am willing to follow anyones advice I just happened to come across Starting Strength first but now I am not too sure if it's actually the best but like I said there's that much variety out there & people saying that their way is the best way. Thanks again.
If I were coaching you, I'd advise doing 100 bodyweight squats a day

Thanks for your reply. Could I do this along with any other lower body exercise including squats if I decide to carry on with them? Thanks again.
@bflare, consider getting good at one or two things. Kettlebell swings and getups are a great place to start. You can save powerlifting for later.

The last reason is that my routine calls for squats. If there is a reasonable alternative then I am willing to give it a go as long as it builds strength & mass. I seem to have an hard time quitting on things & giving up, this is why I keep continuing trying to get my form correct. Thanks again.
Nothing wrong with just wanting to do a certain exercise and improve form on it, just know that for your goals you can use e.g. front squats aswell. Most people have a much easier time to get the front squat right.

And as another advice. Whatever kind of squat you do, invest in a good pair of oly shoes. They help a lot.
my routine calls for squats. If there is a reasonable alternative then I am willing to give it a go as long as it builds strength & mass.
I'm not sure that squatting is going to help with hypermobility.

Hypermobilty & the type I have means that the tendons are weak & the joints are flexible thus we need strong muscles to take over from the lax tendons.
Of the three powerlifts, IMHO, the deadlift requires the least mobility and might be better suited to your purpose.

But I have never heard of powerlifting as a treatment or approach for hypermobility, although it seems a reasonable enough concept to me.

In term of learning to squat, I think the Goblet Squat should become your new best friend. It won't strengthen your squat but it is a great squat troubleshooter and will help you find your optimal positions, foot placement etc as well as help with overall mobility needed to squat properly. I'm a big fan of the way Dan John teaches beginners to squat in which you start off with the Goblet Squat, then move to the barbell for Front Squat and eventually moving to a Back Squat.

Starting Strength does a great job of really breaking down how to Squat and why you should use their squat model, but just because they have a model and an extensive explanation about mechanics doesn't mean Rippetoe's squat is for everyone.
Your biggest issue with your low bar squat is a glaring lack of torso tightness. The bar is pushing you around. In order:
- Get your hands closer together;
- Pull your scaps together to build that shelf of muscle for the bar to sit on;
- Raise your chest. Your upper back is a big, soft, bendy, pliable, deformable mess and it's creating problems with knee position later in the movement. Do not allow the bar to bend your upper back or round it forward;
- Narrow your stance a half inch at the heels;
- Take a deep breath and bear down on it;
- KNEES OUT and hold them out throughout the rep;
- All the way down, stay MUCH tighter. Be thinking "UP" all the way down;
- At the bottom - having maintained an utterly rigid torso all the way down - DRIVE YOUR HIPS UP. Now that you're rigid all the way down, your back angle will not change the way it is changing now. Your chest will come along with your hips.

As you were told on the Starting Strength site, these are not atrocious squats, but you MUST GET TIGHTER AND STAY TIGHTER throughout the movement.

And @Steve Freides has again nailed it: you're free to squat however you'd like, but pick a system and get coaching on that system from people who know how to coach the movement. That does not include a bunch of gymnasts who got the vapors watching your low bar back squat, likely because of half-baked guesses about "shear forces".
Start by wedging under the bar with purpose, it sets the tension for the set. If you unrack the bar like a limp noodle, your set will probably go as such.

Practice the Three Step walk out. Unrack the bar, Step back, and set your stance. Don't waste to much energy, don't stand there thinking about squatting. With practice you can step out in two steps.

Then rerack the bar under tension. It's as easy to injure your self reracking the bar. Rerack the same as you unrack, just in reverse. Build that pattern, and habit. The set is not over until the bar is back in the rack. Practice Heavy Walkouts after your worksets.

Try High Bar Squats, and Deadlift to fill the Low Bar Squat purpose. If you are hyper mobile a good Olympic Squat should be very suitable. Then Deadlift once or twice a week.

Your heels are coming up in both videos. You are not connected to the floor. Drive through the floor, mid foot, screw the feet into the floor, and push the knees out. Maybe you lack some ankle and hip flexibility and/or your balance is off pushing you forward. Add Pause Squats, hang out in the bottom position for 3-5se. I used to do a lot of 3 rep sets where the first rep was a pause rep.

The Rippetoe Squat is just unsafe. Don't do that. You are pitching forward, rounding and over stressing the back.
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To the OP - I just watched your squat videos. I agree with @Geoff Chafe - I wouldn't have you squatting under a bar until you can do a few good goblet squats. Your hip mobility needs to improve.

This video helped me a lot.

Ditto on high rep goblet squats and I would add in box squats. Breathing is very important in squatting, it helps you keep your torso tight and high rep goblet squats will teach this.
I second what was told to you in GymnasticBodies. It's not an issue of hypermobility. It's an issue of your Squat form. I should mention their knowledge of barbell work is extremely limited (seeing by how they don't seem to know much of a difference between low and high bar), so that's not the forum I'd be looking for help at. All they do is recommend Foundation instead haha.

Anyways, pay attention to how your coming out of the hole. "Hip drive" means that the torso angle you have at the bottom of the squat should be maintained for the first few inches out of the hole. Your hip drive has the right idea, but you "collapse" in the sense that your upper body is not going up at the same rate as your hips. This leads to slight rounding and makes you "Good Morning" your Squat slightly. It's an issue I had when I ran SS. It's common.

There's also another issue of your knees constantly comming forward, which isn't SS approved.

I didn't see your heel come up (those are just shoes with heels right?) but if they did, just like @Geoff Chafe mentioned, they obviously shouldn't.

I don't know how Goblet squats or high bar squats might help. This seems like an issue of having the correct movement pattern. Doing other squats might or might not help. I remember been proficient with Pistols and Goblet squats and still, the SS squat required lots of reviewing for me personally.

The weight is pretty light so it might just be some inflammation. Take days off, look at your video, and try to understand what I meant by that above. I'm a visual learner and when people point out the exact issue on a video to me, I understand quickly. Maybe you're like that too. Otherwise, an instructor is a good idea.

I didn't see your post on the SS forum (I check it from time to time). You should ask your questions there also. They are a very knowledgeable community on low bar squatting. They'll help you clean up the hip drive (so you don't fold) as well as your knee trouble (most likely with their Terribly Useful Piece of Wood... aka TUBOW).

My 2 cents
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