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TOPIC: Can't squat low enough

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January 13, 2013 3:10 PM
I can only do a half squat (I think that's what it's called), I can't even squat parallel never mind a full squat.

Through searching the internet and doing a bunch of tests I have determined that my ankle flexibility is the problem, it's incredibly poor. My hip flexibility is quite poor too but they should be flexible enough to squat parallel at least.

Over the next couple of months I am going to work on my ankles, hips and over all flexibility through stretches. I'm not sure what to do in the mean time, should I just continue doing half squats or should I replace that exercise with some others until I address my flexibility issue? I don't want to avoid the weights all together because of this so any help would be appreciated.

Also I'm going to put together a stretching plan that I will do nightly to increase flexibility, I have a rough idea of some of the basic stretches but if anybody has any advice in this area that would also be great. I have no idea how long it will take me to address this issue, hopefully it'll be only a couple of weeks but because my ankle flexibility is so poor at the moment I fear it could be much longer :(
January 13, 2013 5:30 PM
subscribing...I have similar problem...I cant go low enough on squats with or without ankles arent the problem..I think its because Ive been out of shape for so long.... I think Im going to do ballet/yoga stretches to help
January 13, 2013 7:33 PM
I would just leg press and add some core work and glute bridges for now BUT ... are you SURE its only ankle flexibility? Because if you can only get half way its not likely that its ONLY that - can you do a box squat? No weight or light -just put a low-enough chair behind you or a box and sit back down onto it? Practice holding the arch in your lower back too.

Experiment with that for a bit - it should be a little bit like sitting back down, except you'll have your weight distributed over your heels not onto your back.

I'd guess its more likely that you're shifting your weight too far forward than that its genuinely only ankle flexibility - it could be PART of the issue but it might not be all of it.
January 13, 2013 9:11 PM
I have found that putting a 2.5kilo plate under each heal helped me achieve a full squat until I was flexible enough
January 14, 2013 2:25 AM
It's definitely ankle flexibility that's the issue, or tight calfs, not sure if they are the same thing. I did a few different tests to narrow it down.

One was to see how far forward my knees go during the squat compared to my toes.

Another was to lie on my back with a rolled up towel under my lower back, then lifting my knees towards my chest without using my hands, making sure my tail bone is constantly making contact with the ground. If it's possible to get the hips past 90 degrees in this exercise then hip flexibility isn't the issue with the squat.

I also performed this test and I was only able to go 11 inches. Anything under 24 inches for a female is considered poor.

I'm not putting the weight too far forward anyway, the weight is constantly in line with my ankles during the entire movement. I have lower back issues, so if I held the weight too far forward I would really feel it so I'm very careful. The issue is the same with and without weights.

@faeriewings1 I've seen pictures of old timey body builders putting a plank of wood about an inch or so thick under their heels during a squat. I'll give that a go next time.

@HITTMe I would recommend going through this check list to see where you are going wrong in your squat. It's a good starting point in narrowing it down anyway Also try out the ankle flexibility test I linked too above. I've heard anything in the fair or better category should be able to at least do a parallel squat. So if you hit fair and you still can't squat then ankles probably aren't your problem.
January 14, 2013 5:00 AM
Thanks for the link... Im only upset because Im reading about the test(s) while stuck behind my desk at work...Im so psyched about getting out & trying it out....

good news is, tonight is gym night!!
January 14, 2013 10:56 AM
I can't squat low either and am doing a lot of work on form. I've had an assessment from a personal trainer and mine is mainly down to (in)flexibility - probably through poor form over the years, lots of running and not enough stretching. So I'm focusing on form over weight at the moment for squats. I'm finding that I'm only 5x5-ing every 3 days due to time and DOMS. Every other day feels a bit too often for me.
January 23, 2013 2:15 PM
I also can't get very low. I'm pretty out of shape and overweight though. :l
January 23, 2013 2:45 PM
I found this today. Looks interesting and might actually work. I can't do a squat with an empty weight bar! So I am going to try out some drills to see if I can improve my squats!
January 23, 2013 3:06 PM

I found this today. Looks interesting and might actually work. I can't do a squat with an empty weight bar! So I am going to try out some drills to see if I can improve my squats!

Awesome! Thanks for the link. (:
January 23, 2013 9:20 PM
Im going to look at that link too because I cant squat very low at all. Ugh. I HATE SQUATS
January 24, 2013 10:25 AM

@faeriewings1 I've seen pictures of old timey body builders putting a plank of wood about an inch or so thick under their heels during a squat. I'll give that a go next time.

Was going to post this exact thing ^^^ . I'm not a fan of this, but I'd rather see you able to squat to parallel (or better, below parallel) than do quarter squats - which are HORRIBLE for the knees and also have very little involvement from the hamstrings and glutes.

But really you need to be working on your flexibility. Try Goblet squats and see how low you can get. When you get down low, take your elbows and push them against your knees to really get a good stretch.
Edited by Leadfoot_Lewis On January 24, 2013 10:26 AM
January 24, 2013 12:40 PM

I also performed this test and I was only able to go 11 inches. Anything under 24 inches for a female is considered poor.

This test felt really strange to me. I scored "poor" as well, and yet I can easily squat below parallel.
January 24, 2013 3:57 PM
I just found this group. First thread I see and voila, I have actual plans to better my squat, having been trying to, to little/no avail for too long for sure. Now I feel extremely grateful for the wonderful invention of internet chat :D Thanks so much!
January 26, 2013 8:52 PM
I have a question about squats too, I saw this post and felt it would be silly to start a new one. I also can't squat low enough. I think it is a strength thing, and also psychological. I tore my ACL, MCL and meniscus a few years ago. I had surgery and I'm pretty much recovered thanks to lots of PT. Squats were part of PT, but I was told over and over not to go lower than a seated position. Now I'm seeing over and over again that I need to go low to get real results... any suggestions on how I can overcome this mental and physical block?

January 28, 2013 7:36 AM
I needed help for squats!
I'm considering the 5X5 program at this point.
January 28, 2013 10:10 AM
It's good to know I'm not the only one who struggles with squats. It's discouraging how a month into the program I'm still not able to squat the Olympic bar, when all of my other lifts have improved dramatically. Like, aren't I supposed to be stronger on the bottom half? Why can I bench 3x the weight I can squat? lol
February 8, 2013 10:41 AM
This may or may not help, butbI struggled with squats, and got some good advice -

+Lead with your ass - always move your hips back first. If the front of your thigh is struggling the most, then you could be missing this. Your bum should be helping out.

+Make sure your legs are wide enough apart to get your torso through, if you've got a layer of tummy insulation like me ;)

That did the trick for me and I can do it fine now.

February 8, 2013 10:55 AM
If you're tight in the back of your legs, IMHO there's no better stretch for that than downward dog.

I'm finding my yoga practice comes in real handy when it comes to lifting, as far as being able to breathe, focus, balance, etc. If you need to work on your ankle balance/strength, then any 1-legged standing yoga pose is fantastic for that. Although evidently the lifting will eventually make your ankles stronger also.

Make sure you warm up and stretch before each workout and focus on form rather than weight. The weight will take care of itself. Form is far more important right now.

Practice squats with a sofa behind you (lower than a regular chair) or put a cushion down. That way if you do drop, you'll fall softly and won't be anxious over it.
February 8, 2013 1:27 PM
For some reason I didn't see this before. Sorry!

Good ways to help ankles:

1. Ankle rotations- Make a circle with your toes while your leg is pointed out.
2. Write the alphabet with your toes similar to 1.
3. Toe curls: sit with your shin more or less perpendicular to the ground, and put the end of a dish towel under your toes. Then use your toes to scrunch the length of the towel under your foot, keeping your heel on the ground while scrunching. After you get good you can add light weight (remote control etc.)
4. Squats

Good luck!

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