Can't squat upright to full parallel knees

Hey guys, I have tried to keep my torso and chest upright when squatting and when I used to squat to a few inches above parallel, I was able to stay upright with butt out, weight in heels, etc. But, when I started trying to involve the posterior chain more by squatting down to parallel knees, I find my torso has to bend very far forward. Any tips?

Here is a guy doing it upright:


Here is a gal doing them bent forward more like I get if going to parallel or just below, appears approx 1.5 minutes into it:


I tried doing the face the wall training method pictured here, but the minute I tried to go all the way down to parallel, I started to just fall backwards from the wall. I couldn't do it.:


So, do any of you have a tip?
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Replies

  • HelloDan
    HelloDan Posts: 712 Member
    The guy and the girl in those videos are not really comparable, as they're doing completely different things.

    Firstly, the obvious, are your feet wide enough that you can get your hips in between them? To avoid falling over, you need to keep your weight over the middle of your feet, if you have a narrow stance, your hips move behind your feet, moving your weight backwards, so you either fall backwards, or lean your torso forwards to bring your weight back over your feet.

    Assuming your stance is good, I would look at mobility of the ankles and hips. To keep your torso upright, you need to keep your weight over your feet, even with a wider stance your weight will still move backwards, if you have good ankle mobility, your ankles can flex, and move your knees forward, moving your whole body forwards to compensate for the hips moving back.
    The other possibility is that your hips are tight, and quick and dirty test would be to put something underneath your heels, and then squat. If this allows you to stay upright, work on ankle mobility, if you're still leaning, it's more likely to be hips.

    Note - The above is just based on what I commonly see in people squatting, without actually seeing you squat, it is impossible to be 100% sure what is causing your particular issue.
  • Doberdawn
    Doberdawn Posts: 732 Member
    My ankles move so my knees can come forward, but I can't keep weight in heels, butt back AND NOT have the knees go past the toes while balancing. If my knees go past toes, no problem. But everything I've read says that will trash my knees.
  • HelloDan
    HelloDan Posts: 712 Member
    My ankles move so my knees can come forward, but I can't keep weight in heels, butt back AND NOT have the knees go past the toes while balancing. If my knees go past toes, no problem. But everything I've read says that will trash my knees.

    The more you put your butt back, the less upright you will be, so first question is how are you trying to squat?
    Low bar, hips back a lot, close to vertical shins, but lots of forward lean.
    OR
    High bar, hips more down between ankles, lots of forward lean of shins, and vertical torso.

    As for knees past toes trashing knees, anecdotally, if that's the case we're all in trouble because this happens when walking, jumping and using stairs among other things. Read more, look at the sources you're reading, and decide for yourself. I think there is a study from around 2003, where they tested the forces on the knee and hip, and keeping knees from going beyond toes reduced shear by about 20% at the knee, but increased it about 1000% at the hips - you win some, you lose some!

    http://www.luciano.si/images/blog015_raziskava.pdf

    Finally, body proportions play a role in this too, having very short legs and a long torso will be advantageous against someone of the same height, who is the opposite.
  • Mokey41
    Mokey41 Posts: 5,769 Member
    My co worker is a Thai boxing trainer part time and we just had this discussion. She can't squat and keep her torso upright so she started investigating why. Another trainer told her to try putting her heels on something about the thickness of a phone book and see if she can do it, which she can. He says it's tight calves causing the issue for her because the little bit of lift allows her to unlock enough to get a proper squat. According to him if lifting your heels doesn't help then it's your hips that have the tight problem.

    We played around here one day for a while to figure out the mechanics of it the whole thing. It seems that it's got a lot to do with pelvic tilt. Lifting your heels makes you tuck your butt which in turn allows you to get your torso upright. We haven't figured out a solution yet but if you want better upper body form on squats try putting a bit of lift under your heels.
  • Leadfoot_Lewis
    Leadfoot_Lewis Posts: 1,623 Member
    You should really post a video of YOU squatting. You really can't tell someone how to correct their form without seeing what's going on.
  • JoRocka
    JoRocka Posts: 17,554 Member
    The angle of your upper body is practically irrelevant- people have different lengths of bones and features and mobility.

    back flat- butt out - chest up. heels down.

    worry about that- shove the knees out- generate some power and squat.


    that being said- video of YOU squatting is WAY more helpful to us than trying to describe what you think you are doing.
  • MonsterToBe
    MonsterToBe Posts: 263 Member
    You should really post a video of YOU squatting. You really can't tell someone how to correct their form without seeing what's going on.

    ^^ This.
  • mheebner
    mheebner Posts: 285 Member
    My first thought is you are trying to squat too much weight but I will echo the above posters. You need to post a link to a youtube video showing your form.
  • KatrinaWilke
    KatrinaWilke Posts: 372 Member
  • PrimalGirl
    PrimalGirl Posts: 154 Member
    All these other people know what they're talking about, so all I'm going to say is that woman in the video is rubbish! Those are not squats!! Her chest is touching her knees - all she's doing is hinging at the hips. Also, even weighing as little as she does, her knees are caving as she "squats".

    But then again her feet are way too close together so she can't sink her *kitten* between them. And she must have really immobile ankles.

    By the by, calf raises would be good for ankle mobility and calf strength - just in case that's hindering you.
  • You may also try practicing or even warming up with a series of third-world squats, sometimes when my hips feel tight or achy I sit in a third-world squat position for a minute or so and it really loosens everything up.
  • tigersword
    tigersword Posts: 8,059 Member
    My ankles move so my knees can come forward, but I can't keep weight in heels, butt back AND NOT have the knees go past the toes while balancing. If my knees go past toes, no problem. But everything I've read says that will trash my knees.
    Don't worry so much about knees traveling forward, just make sure you are pushing them out. Depending on individual biomechanics (people vary in limb and torso length) knees past toes is preferable, as is torso lean. Like others have said, without seeing you actually squatting, nobody can really tell what, if anything, is wrong.
  • BusyRaeNOTBusty
    BusyRaeNOTBusty Posts: 7,165 Member
    Sounds like a flexibility issue. I'd suggest switching to goblet squats until you can get low enough and working on mobility.
  • BusyRaeNOTBusty
    BusyRaeNOTBusty Posts: 7,165 Member
    Also, low bar squats will allow you to lean forward a little more (which is why I like it, I like/need to lean forward for balance). The key is keeping the bar above the middle of your foot (and your heel down).

    high-bar-vs-low-bar-squats-back-angles.jpeg


    This me, not perfect, but shows low bar:

  • JoRocka
    JoRocka Posts: 17,554 Member
    man- low bar hurts me just looking at it- it causes me weird back pains. :(
  • KatrinaWilke
    KatrinaWilke Posts: 372 Member
    man- low bar hurts me just looking at it- it causes me weird back pains. :(

    Me too! If I do low bar, I would end up squishing my back....
  • KatrinaWilke
    KatrinaWilke Posts: 372 Member
    I see alot of people doing half squats and they lean their torso too far forward. They are not opening up in the hips or keeping their toes pointed out slightly and end up pushing their knees over their toes. Try doing a full squat and see if your knee placement is better.

    This baby knows how to do a FULL squat!!!

    baby-squat.jpg
  • Doberdawn
    Doberdawn Posts: 732 Member
    Wow! So many helpful responses. Loved the baby picture... funny, but true, he was in perfect position. Hmmm.... The videos were helpful.

    I was lifting (heavy for me) like 110+ pounds, but then read that I was shortchanging my posterior chain doing half-squats and so tried to go lower... but then would lean forward more and more. So, I decided to go back to straight body weight squats to tweak form. Seemed prudent. And, I tried the face the wall squats etc.

    I will try sitting in a full squat. Also, I will take a video and post it. Would it be better to post a video doing body weight or with bar bell or with kettlebell or all three?

    Thank you again for wanting to help. You guys are AWESOME!!!
  • HelloDan
    HelloDan Posts: 712 Member
    I see alot of people doing half squats and they lean their torso too far forward. They are not opening up in the hips or keeping their toes pointed out slightly and end up pushing their knees over their toes. Try doing a full squat and see if your knee placement is better.

    This baby knows how to do a FULL squat!!!

    baby-squat.jpg

    I've seen this pic posted a few times before, problem is this babies head is about 1/4 of it's height, and a significant proportion of it's mass. I've yet to see an adult human with the same proportions and mass distribution!

    However, it is a decent example of the advantage of having a relatively longer upper body v lower body that I mentioned earlier.
  • tigersword
    tigersword Posts: 8,059 Member
    Wow! So many helpful responses. Loved the baby picture... funny, but true, he was in perfect position. Hmmm.... The videos were helpful.

    I was lifting (heavy for me) like 110+ pounds, but then read that I was shortchanging my posterior chain doing half-squats and so tried to go lower... but then would lean forward more and more. So, I decided to go back to straight body weight squats to tweak form. Seemed prudent. And, I tried the face the wall squats etc.

    I will try sitting in a full squat. Also, I will take a video and post it. Would it be better to post a video doing body weight or with bar bell or with kettlebell or all three?

    Thank you again for wanting to help. You guys are AWESOME!!!
    If you want help with barbell squat form, we need to see barbell squats. The form is different for bar vs kettlebell vs body weight.