Barbell Shrugged

Back to Basics: Squatting to Build the Olympic Lifts

Doug Larson

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  • Awesome article!

    What are your thoughts regarding squating toes straight ahead vs. toes slightly outward?

    • Generally, as the feet come out wider, you’ll want the toes to come out a little more. Close stance, you can certainly keep them straight if you feel stronger. If that gives you a stronger feeling hip, good. The one thing, though, is pulling stance. What foot position do you keep when setting up for the clean and snatch? Where do they go when you drop under a lift? Just to be safe, I would take a close look at both and then drill foot position across lifts, just for consistency. You need to look pretty similar across them all.

      • Thanks for the response Chris! My feet during the set up for the clean and the snatch are always straight forward, once I drop under the bar in a front squat or over head squat position my feet are little wider set and my toes go out a lot. Could this lead to potential injury in the future?

  • With ref to the hip raising in the squat ,this is what happens to me every time i go for a max or fairly high percentage ,obviously not intentional but always shift forwards ,have ended up doing what looks like a good morning with 160kg,not a good look ! Any thoughts on remedy for this ? Cheers,

    • Pause squats. More lunges, step-ups and jumps. Basically, you are running towards your back because it’s what can lift the load. Strengthen the legs and torso more, and you’ll drive more upright. Keep the weight down for now and practice form. Hips up WON’T help you in the lifts. It’ll just reinforce bad habits.

  • Chris I have a real forward lean in all my squats and this shows up badly in snatches. Is there anything I can do to improve this, i find sotts press impossible at the bottom of a squat!

    • Yeah, there are a few things you can do.

      First, back off the snatch. You don’t want to engrain a bad pattern, or grind your shoulders.

      Think mobility first. How’s your ankle range of motion? If it’s tremendous, skip it. But if you cannot squat deep with bare feet, work on it. When you lift, make sure you’re wearing a proper weightlifting shoe with a heel. That will help position. Otherwise, give your hips some TLC and mobilize there too.

      As far as training goes, If I were you I would shift my training goal towards keeping vertical under heavy loads. Front squat more often. Take your time during those sets. Hold the weight before you squat. Breathe and reset your arch. Controlled tempo down. Pause at the bottom. Keep upright. Fire up as fast as you can. That will make you much stronger.

      When you back squat, go high bar and use pauses here too. Sit down in the bottom. You’ll notice that, to do that, you need to be upright. Or else your back will really fatigue quickly.

      You can still snatch a little, but be careful. Go back to squat one and practice a vertical,full snatch with light loads. Drill your overhead squat, really fighting for the same vertical posture. Yes, all this will be akward for a while, but that’ll just be for maybe 2-3 weeks. After that, you’ll quickly get used to it. Loads will go up. Squat and snatches will start to feel more efficient and easy.

      Hope that helps,


  • Hi! I am Enrico a fan from Venezuela! I am a big fan of your show and advice. I have a concern with squating by myself since most of the time I squat by myself and I fear getting hurt. Any advice to get more confident with squats. I have been lifting for only 6 months.

    • If you plan well, you don’t have to risk failure and excessive injury. Sure, shit happens. You can never be sure. But if you progress at a reasonable pace, use great form, work pauses and tempo squats (they make lighter loads harder), etc, you’ll be A-OK.

  • Dear Chris,

    I’ve followed the muscle gain challange for 10 months. The whole year I have used my lifters when back and front squatting, went up from 275 to 330 lbs (great program thanks.) Now after 3 months competition prep im starting with my strenght work again.

    Whats your advice about lifters / flats. Should I stick with my lifters for another year or would it be a good idea to swtich from lifters to flats like every cycle or something else. Whats your opinion on that?

    This question is because i did a few time squats during the prep on my flats and noticed a lot of different muscles in my posterior chain where working.

    Warm greetings


  • What would you say would be good RPE’s to work with?
    When squatting for general strength, 5­-8 repetitions @RPE ??
    Positional strength in the lifts, stick to 2­-3 repetitions @RPE ??
    pause squats in sets of 3 reps (pause for 3­ seconds) @RPE ??

    I see weightlifters squat with ease when using their squats. No where near a set which I’d count as an RPE 8 or 9.
    What do you recommend?

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