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Barbell Olympic style squat flexability

Jamesjones

Level 4 Valued Member
Hello I was wondering how Olympic lifters squat so deep and with a more or less straight back ? Is it flexability or leg positioning or just being beasts ?
 

Coyotl

Level 6 Valued Member
Hello I was wondering how Olympic lifters squat so deep and with a more or less straight back ? Is it flexability or leg positioning or just being beasts ?
Do you mean straight (flat) or vertical (up and down)? There's a lot of flexibility (ankle, thoracic, shoulder, hip), but if you're talking about that almost vertical back angle like Lu Xiaojun, that's a lot of body proportions.
 

flightposite

Level 5 Valued Member
It’s a combination of all of the above.
But the elevated heel provided by a weightlifting shoe adds a lot to someone’s ability to reach those positions.
 

Starlord

Level 5 Valued Member
It's mainly the last one.

But obviously mobility work, becoming strong in certain positions and the squat shoes will all be factors that benefit a good, ATG squat.
 

LLT

Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Additionally something to consider also is the fact, that the more weight on the back, the more your center of mass gravitates to the barbell which facilitates an upright position for the Oly style Squat. Some individuals will squat with “better” technique with some weight on their back. An empty Barbell will put you into different positions than a loaded one.
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Sinister
I think an intention and ability to keep the low back contracted (some might describe it as extended, but probably best described as neutral and isometrically contracted) while squatting makes a huge difference.

Here are some of my recent front squats and back squats (5th video). I've been working on depth especially on back squats, and I find that in order to achieve more depth I have to focus on keeping those low back muscles tight in order to not have flexion/movement/"butt wink" occur at the bottom of the squat.

I found that to be a game-changer and really haven't seen many other sources that describe this important ability as well as Starting Strength. As Mark Rippetoe says (4:35 in this video), with deadlifts, squats, etc., "There is a war going on between the hamstrings and the low back for control of the pelvis, and the low back has to win. And in order for the low back to win, you have to be able to voluntarily control the concentric contraction those muscles in the lower back." He clearly demonstrates how to do this in the video.

Olympic Lifters do it more naturally because there is so much focus on entire back extension, and holding that posture in positions where you naturally wouldn't -- i.e. at the start of a snatch or clean, therefore these back extension muscles build strength as you go up in weight. But other styles of lifting don't put so much emphasis on it, therefore I think it helps to teach it and focus on it.
 
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