I am posting this as the first in, hopefully, a series of threads with two intentions. First is to educate those interested in power lifting and share my experiences as I learn things from the earliest time of my own training. Another is a sort of fact-checking system. I wholly wish for these threads to be read by the more experienced lifters on these forums and critiqued for accuracy in order to ensure that new trainees and I are training properly. Lastly, any suggestions or requests for thread topics are welcome and encouraged!
Disclaimer: I am not a professional lifter or trainer. The training principals herein are not endorsed nor are they intended to represent the thoughts of any individual or organizations other than myself.
ATG Squatting Raw: Achieving Proper Depth
If you're unfamiliar with squatting, or the term ATG, squatting should almost always be done as deeply as possible. ATG means Ass-To-Ground and squatting in this manner promotes proper use of leg, hip and back musculature. Training Squats ATG also prepares a trainee for competition, because in competition proper depth is required for the lift to be counted. You can Squat 1000 lbs, but if you donít hit depth you might as well stay home because youíll get the same score. Squats should be done ass-to-ground (ATG) most of the time. Only when specifically training partials should depth be limited, but that's a topic for another thread.
I've found that when squatting raw, depth is more easily achieved by having my feet almost shoulder width apart. The importance of this relative distance is not necessarily that your feet are under your shoulders, but more that your feet are closer together than wider apart. This is contrary to suited squatting, which advocates "wider is better". A wide stance is attributed to hip flexibility and is very difficult, and mechanically inefficient, without the assistance of the heavy weight that a suit allows a trainee to lift. Geared Squatting, however, is out of the scope of this thread.
After placing your feet shoulder width apart, point your toes outward as far as necessary to align the toes with the direction the knees are pointing. You may find that the angle at which your toes are pointing seems exaggerated relative to the size of your torso. Thinner lifters will have a much easier time hitting depth with toes more forward then their heavier counterparts. This is simply a matter of having enough space between the femurs (upper legs, or quads) for the torso once in the hole. Bear in mind, too, that you should almost always have a big belly full of air in the hole, so you should need that space thin or otherwise!
When Iíve placed my feet shoulder width apart and aligned my toes with the angle of my knees, hitting proper depth becomes automatic. Itís not uncommon for me to feel my hamstrings touch my calves. If you havenít used a similar stance in the past, work into it slowly. As with any newly implemented technique, be sure to use many repetitions of light weight to perfect form and improve flexibility.
Everyoneís body is different and we all have different levers, angles, and proportions. Itís important to find what works best for your body to remain healthy and to continue progressing. Improper technique or inefficient form will halt progress just as easily as any other factor, possibly more so, when you consider that training with inefficient form can lead to unnecessary injuries, and thus more time away from training.
I hope this is helpful and I appreciate you taking time to read it. Continue training hard and wisely until the next one of these I think of!