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squats - and long femurs...


So I've been doing squats but have NOT been able to get to parallel without seriously leaning forward. That wouldn't be a big problem except I'm using the squat rack and heavy weights and it's beginning to be too much on my back. I did some research last night and found out that if you have long femurs relative to your torso and shins that squats can be much harder for you. Your hips have to go back too far to get all the way to parallel which then makes you lean forward more.

I have super long femurs, average shins and an average torso so it was starting to make sense. There were two suggested fixes
1. use a much wider stance and point toes out a bit
2. put a little lift under your heel (some people use the 2.5 pound weights at the gym)

I tried both last night and WOW!!! What a difference. I feel it way more in my butt and legs and less in my back. I can get a much lower squat, and it just feels "right" if that makes any sense.

Anyhow - since this is the land of the tall ladies, I figured I would share. Some of you might be lucky enough to be evenly proportioned but for the ones that have long femurs this might be helpful.

PS - there is SOME controversy about putting a lift under your heel. Some people feel like it's cheating - some people say it's fine (apparently Arnold Schwarznegger used a lift when he did squats). It felt so much better to me that I don't care, I think my squat form is so much better now...


  • CoCoRedRider
    CoCoRedRider Posts: 47 Member
    Thanks for this! I've been doing the wide stance with toes pointed slightly out but will try the lifts under my heels next. I've never really felt squats work my butt (and I really really want to have a butt so this made me sad :laugh: ) so hopefully this will help.
  • naurugirl
    naurugirl Posts: 17 Member
    I've started to do front weighted squats and I feel like it has helped me from leaning forward (compared to when I do a typical barbell squat with the bar across my shoulders). You can also get a little deeper (I think mainly because you stay more upright) which provides an extra challenge. I had been squating 95 pounds with the bar across my back; when I switched to front weighted squats I could hardly finish a single set at 95 pounds!
  • ukgirly01
    ukgirly01 Posts: 523 Member
    My coach said my v v long limbs hinder a lot of strength exercises, he's got me doing split squats at the min, using 2 10k dumb bells, have to say they work my bum muscles have really improved and the variation on the squat easier for me
  • kjohnson754
    kjohnson754 Posts: 54 Member
    Thanks for that information because it always seems like I'm doing it wrong. I think my issue might also be due to some type of hip dysplasia (yes, like the dogs have). I used to get my spine manipulated. I'm thinking I should start again.
  • LauraRN88
    LauraRN88 Posts: 46
    I'm glad i'm not alone in this, I've never really been able to do squats properly! I look at how low my petite friends get and there's no way I'd be able to do that!
  • nmtGurl
    nmtGurl Posts: 159 Member
    I've started to do front weighted squats and I feel like it has helped me from leaning forward (compared to when I do a typical barbell squat with the bar across my shoulders). You can also get a little deeper (I think mainly because you stay more upright) which provides an extra challenge. I had been squatting 95 pounds with the bar across my back; when I switched to front weighted squats I could hardly finish a single set at 95 pounds!

    Thank you! I switched to the front and that made all the difference!!
  • lovelylauz02
    lovelylauz02 Posts: 20 Member
    I"m defintiely going to dtry this. I have never had a problem getting low into a squat. but if this helps me get lower.. then by all means!! i"ll be trying it tomorrow when I hit the weights again.

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us!
  • idream2bgwen
    idream2bgwen Posts: 424 Member
    I already do the wide stance squats and like those much more than regular squats as they just feel more natural. But this is nice to know. I am kind of scared to use the lifts as I am a huge clutz! I will probably fall flat on my face! But it may be worth a try!!! :flowerforyou:
  • amiaow
    amiaow Posts: 35 Member
    I use wide stance too, feels much more natural and have no troubles going to parallel.

    You might also like to try a front squat- it has a more upright posture than a back squat. You won't be able to lift the same weight but time under tension is what matters for your muscles anyway so they will still get a great workout :)
  • melkeblack
    melkeblack Posts: 4 Member
    this is awesome!! thank you!! i have the exact same problem and just gave up doing squats :)
  • Cerebrus189
    Cerebrus189 Posts: 315 Member
    I never even thought about this but it makes sense why I have such an issue with form and squats. We were doing sumo squats last night and that has a wide stance, which felt much easier to do. Thanks for sharing that info. I'll be much more likely to do a wide stance now.
  • MercedesV
    MercedesV Posts: 70 Member
    No wonder I feel like a duck when I squat. LOL. I wont feel so bad for leaning forward.
  • ginnybrock
    ginnybrock Posts: 27 Member
    great thread, so I'll bump it up. :)

    I have this problem too. I had Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in my left femur when I was 16 and after surgery was left with very limited flexion in my knee. can bend it to a bit over 90 degrees, but that's it. That, with being quite tall seems to really hinder my leg work and I'd get very frustrated about not being able to do squats correctly. I also have a crappish time with lunges as well, but generally avoid them..

    Recently started doing sumo squats and am noticing a world of difference. Feels much more natural and am really engaging those glutes, getting a lot more depth and just generally keeping better form throughout.

    Would really like some more exercise ideas for working the legs and glutes, though.
  • kemit1976
    kemit1976 Posts: 46 Member
    I did the 30 day squat challenge and it was hard, so will try it again but doing what you have stated. Would make more sense,
  • Redheadllena
    Redheadllena Posts: 353 Member
    Been working on (and struggling with) my squat form for a while now. I was starting to think this was the case (tallness) as well and did research. The heel lifts help, but I have been trying to correct my form to the point of not needing that. Thank you, OP for sharing your tips! Here are some I've found and am trying out:

    1. Goblet squats (hold the dumbbell in front of you, against your chest). Front loading like this forces you to engage your core and will help to correct your form, allowing you to sit back and not lean forward as much. My form is MUCH better when I do these.
    2. Stand facing a wall, with only your toes touching. Practice squatting this way where only your toes touch the wall (no face, knees touching as you squat) - I just started practicing this and it is HARD to not tip back. This has proven to me my form isn't on point so I'm going to wait to go back to barbell squats until I have mastered this.

    Happy Squatting ladies!!
  • amflautist
    amflautist Posts: 941 Member
    Last week I was reading a piece on the proper form for squats - a section of a book** that I was thinking of buying or getting from the library. The form was totally fascinating, because the author was discussing pointing the toes out to 30 degrees on each side and taking a wide stance. Reminded me of the discussion here about squats for tall women. The difference was
    this author was discussing squatting form for really serious weight lifters, olympic caliber stuff!!!

    I tried that form. It's wonderful. I can get down far enough to seriously challenge my thighs. Exactly as I ought to do.

    So I googled "olympic weight lifters squatting" and selected "Images". WOW!! Just look at those images of squats! Those men have very wide stances and their knees and legs are out to the side.

    NEVER again will I feel inadequate in my measly strength classes at the YMCA. When the instructor tells us to squat with our feet forward, shoulder width apart, I will just turn off my ears and do a proper Olympic weightlifter squat!

    **Edited to add reference to book: Starting Strength, Basic Barbell Training, Mark Rippetoe
  • ukgirly01
    ukgirly01 Posts: 523 Member
    I'd be questioning the qualifications of the YMCA instructors. Squatting should always be done with the proper form as should any lifiting exercise. In the UK theres the UKSCA (uk strength and conditioning association) I'm pretty sure there's a US equivalent, they're pretty strict on form ect before dishing out the accretitation so its worth looking for.
    My s&c coach has been getting me to do over head squats, the've really improved my range.