5x5 but can't get squat depth

DD265
DD265 Posts: 564 Member
edited June 2021 in Fitness and Exercise
I did my first 5x5 workout today, and my legs are like jelly, but it was great to pick up the bar again.

I had my husband (he has no lifting experience) watching me with Mehdi's guides to form, and the big thing is that I couldn't squat with my hips below my knees. It feels as though my quads/hip flexors won't allow it, and if I 'force' it, I'll either get stuck at the bottom or fall backwards. I know I have somewhat limited mobility in my ankles, too. On the rep where I did get deep enough (and only just), I couldn't get up out of it and had to rack the bar on the spotters.

I had this a few years ago when I first started lifting (I've had a ~2 year break) and the depth did come, though I don't remember how long it took and I was training quite differently with a physio at the time with a much broader set of exercises/movements. No injuries/long term limitations, just a body that needs reminding how to do the thing. I don't feel unsafe but I know the limited range of movement is less effective.

I'm leaning towards giving it a couple of weeks with just the bar (i.e. not increasing the weight until form is spot on) to see if I can nail the form before contacting a professional for guidance. Does that sound sensible? I am not averse to taking and posting a video on here during my next session, though I learn better in person with critique as I'm going - often it's difficult to remember everything!

If anybody else has had the same struggles, how did you improve the depth of your squat?

Replies

  • CenFlo7
    CenFlo7 Posts: 13 Member
    edited June 2021
    Form first, weight and speed will come. One other thing, are you stretching any AND warming up?

    So many people skip their warm up and go straight to the weights / reps. Easy to skip the simple things, but keeping it simple and using good form is everything.

    One other trick for squats is to make sure your hips are forward facing / square. You do this by squeezing your butt cheeks right before you start to move. Works like a charm, make sure to release the squeeze once you start to move in to your rep / squat.
  • rheddmobile
    rheddmobile Posts: 6,841 Member
    steveko89 wrote: »
    I think you're on the right track to focus on form with just the bar or even work on something lighter like a broomstick or holding a 10 lb plate. In between workouts and as a warm-up work on hip and ankle mobility. Squat University is a great free resource for warm-up routines, mobility work, prehab and rehab stuff. Great follow on IG too, if you're into that.
    This, except that I would add get yourself a box, bench or chair of the right height and do box squats for a while. Almost always lack of depth is partly because you aren’t properly hinging backwards. Box squats teach you what reaching back with your butt and proper form feels like.

    Squatting rear end to ground and just sitting there, feet flat, for as long as you can, increasing duration, also helps.

    A trick I was taught to get your feet in a good position for squatting is to start with your feet together, clench your butt cheeks, and waddle one foot at a time until your legs stop moving outward. Your feet and legs will naturally end up in the best position for your build.
  • carennashva
    carennashva Posts: 3 Member
    Try putting your heals on a board to see if that helps.
  • Speakeasy76
    Speakeasy76 Posts: 960 Member
    Mainly practicing the squat, focusing on depth before adding weight. If I couldn't get the depth with the weight, for me it meant the weight was too heavy.

    I always do mobility work, foam roll tight spots and sometimes activation (if needed) of any areas of muscle imbalance. One thing that has really helped with squat depth as well as some knee pain I was starting to get was working on ankle mobility. There may be some exercises on the site mentioned a few posts above.
  • DD265
    DD265 Posts: 564 Member
    Great advice, thanks all. I'll check out Squat University and put these tips into practise.

    I did a very brief warmup, but as it was 'just the bar' I definitely wasn't as thorough as I could have been, and I'd run this week rather than doing prehab. I remember now, that when I first started lifting, we'd spend say 45 minutes warming up and doing prehab then only lift the bar for 10 minutes - plus the focus was 100% on form, not quantity of reps or weight. In hindsight, I should treat my body like it hasn't lifted before and take that approach again; I'm sure I'll be back on form quickly enough.
  • grob49
    grob49 Posts: 123 Member
    steveko89 wrote: »
    I think you're on the right track to focus on form with just the bar or even work on something lighter like a broomstick or holding a 10 lb plate. In between workouts and as a warm-up work on hip and ankle mobility. Squat University is a great free resource for warm-up routines, mobility work, prehab and rehab stuff. Great follow on IG too, if you're into that.
    This, except that I would add get yourself a box, bench or chair of the right height and do box squats for a while. Almost always lack of depth is partly because you aren’t properly hinging backwards. Box squats teach you what reaching back with your butt and proper form feels like.

    Squatting rear end to ground and just sitting there, feet flat, for as long as you can, increasing duration, also helps.

    A trick I was taught to get your feet in a good position for squatting is to start with your feet together, clench your butt cheeks, and waddle one foot at a time until your legs stop moving outward. Your feet and legs will naturally end up in the best position for your build.

    rheddmobile is totally correct. Box squats are your best bet. Google hox squats. There are some excellent videos on now to do them correctly. I've done them myself to help me get my depth. One of thise plastic milk type creat is about the right height.
  • Cherimoose
    Cherimoose Posts: 5,210 Member
    Poor depth and the feeling of tipping backward can often be fixed with a slightly wider stance. If it's already wide enough, try pulling your knees outward slightly as you descend to improve depth.
    If you're unsure of your form, you can post a form check video for others to assess.
  • Theoldguy1
    Theoldguy1 Posts: 2,276 Member
    edited July 2021
    Try working on your lower body mechanics with the goblet squat before putting a bar on your shoulders. Lots of videos out there, here's a sample


  • rheddmobile
    rheddmobile Posts: 6,841 Member
    Theoldguy1 wrote: »
    Try working on your lower body mechanics with the goblet squat before putting a bar on your shoulders. Lots of videos out there, here's a sample



    Yep, good suggestion! As you can see from the preview pic, ankle mobility wasn’t this guy’s problem, since when he is doing it correctly his ankles don’t need to flex nearly as much.

    When I find myself “tacoing” forward while doing back squats the problem is often fixed by a deep breath and focus on keeping my back flat, abs tight, and chest up.