Today’s leg workout was the second one since my week off. Strength is coming back, but I know if I don’t fix my squat form, I’ll stall out. Or get hurt. I’ve been too preoccupied with lifting heavy and my form has suffered. I haven’t been going down low enough. The mid thigh sweep has been coming in, but the teardrops haven’t. I know there are things I can do to hit those teardrops, but I know I don’t drop low enough on my squats. Got to fix this. Besides, it’s a math problem – the angles aren’t right. I make my living teaching people how to solve math problems. I can do this.
I’ve learned a few things studying for my personal training certification (muscle imbalances, kinetic chain of movement) that will help me with this particular math problem. So today was the day to apply what I’ve learned. Squat School is in session! I am the teacher AND the student. I was trained fairly well for squats by past trainers, but not well enough to properly squat the weights I’ve been attempting lately. The trainers were long gone before I got this strong. Or at least before the middle of my quads got this strong. I need to finish my schooling by myself.
I started with the bar and elevated my heels with a 1/2 in board. Watched my form very, very closely in the mirror. I added 20 lbs, then 50 lbs, and continued to watch how my body compensated for the increased weight. Did the same thing on the Smith Machine without my heels elevated.
The same problem exists that was there when I first started lifting – the right low back-right hip flexor- right knee connection. The inner thigh is pulling the right knee into the middle to compensate. My scoliosis distributes the weight on my shoulders unevenly down my back and I feel a pinch in the low back on the right side when I squat down. I also think my back is doing more work than my quads. I am not strong at the bottom. At about 100 pounds, I struggle to get the butt down below parallel (see picture above) and then stand back up. With 3/4 reps, stopping just above parallel, I can squat 205 pounds. So that last 10-15 degrees of the back angle is my weak spot.
I need to do a few things to fix my form before I can start adding on those plates like I want to…
- Foam roll the outer thighs more often – especially the right one.
- More abductor work to strengthen those outer thighs to balance them with the strong inner thighs. I used to do this, but stopped. I thought I corrected the problem. Probably did for the 3/4 reps. Not for full reps.
- More low back work and maybe more body weight squats on the non-leg days.
- Stay strict with my squat form. Do not worry about the amount of weight I’m lifting.
- Start recording myself doing squats so I can analyze my form later.
I’m confident I can fix this. And when I do, I’ll be able to squat heavier weight with the correct full range of motion. And then my quads will develop all along the muscle, not just in the middle. There are about 18 inches between my hip and my knee, so that’s a lot of muscle to build. I need to do this correctly.
The rest of my leg workout was OK – no records set. I used a ton of energy in Squat School. I think there were 10 sets done between the barbell and Smith Machine squats. Leg press was back up to 540 pounds for 10 reps. My max prior to the week off was 630 for four reps (I think it was four reps.) I was crunched for time this morning so I stopped at 540, which was the fifth set. Leg presses were super setted with leg extensions. I did glute ham raises, leg curl, and seated leg curls for hamstrings. No time for RDLs – had to get ready for work.
I hope this works. My intuition is that I’m doing the right thing. If things don’t improve, I’ll get help. There is a ton of experience in my gym. I feel very lucky to have found this place.