~Rickey Dale Crain
In all honesty I really believe that in some of the contests that I won, I wasn't the strongest, but I was the smartest and had the best form and style. In executing the lifts better, I utilized my strength to its utmost in perfection, and won! But I'm sure I lost a few for the same reason, that is, not executing proper form and style.
Everybody's structure can and does dictate different form and style, but some things are the same for the majority of most lifters.
Now let's take a look at the following:
-Hand and Bar Placement
-Walk Out and Set Up
-Flexing Certain Muscles
-Thinking and Concentrating Through the Lift From Beginning to
Important: Make sure all equipment is on and fitted properly. Everything must be in place to avoid injury!
Okay, let's go through this and hope I did not miss anything.
Do most of your psyching up away from the bar. By the time you get to the bar you want to be concentrating as much as possible on the set up and execution of the lift and not on your mental state. If you are not psyched up when beginning the squat it is just too late--You are already defeated!
A person's structure and size has alot to do with hand placement. A rule of thumb is, the closer in, the better. You should allow some support of the weight to transfer to the arms, wrist, and shoulders and the more narrow the grip the more this is possible.
Smaller framed people will be able to have a closer grip than a bigger person, i.e. Phil Hile can put his hands closer together than Bill Kazmaier. Grip the bar tight. The tighter the grip, the less pressure put upon the wrist, as well as elbows and shoulders. Also the bar will not roll, which can cause form problems and injuries. If your shoulders, wrist , or elbows hurt, try tilting your elbows up as you get under the bar, or rotate your hands to an inward angle grip and/or move your grip out. The wider the grip the more you probably will have to turn your hands in at an angle. I disagree with the false grip, as well as, a grip holding onto the collars. You do not have as much control and the bar must sit higher on your neck as opposed to lower down your back, which will hurt your leverage points.....but nothing is for sure. The key is to be and feel tight and make the bar as secure as possible on your back. This will allow you to sit into it and utilize your hips and lower back more. You should not squat upright utilizing legs ONLY. Only a few people are so big they cannot grip the bar fully and squeeze the bar inside the collars thus making them utilize this technique. Walk under the bar, elbows high, squeezing the bar tight and pull yourself under the bar with the bar about 1 to 2 inches below the deltoid or shoulder. There is a little groove for it to set in - you may have to experiment to find it. Or ask from an experienced lifter to help. After the bar is sitting tight on your back, set your feet side by side or one just ahead of the other (this is the preferable method) to get ready to lift up and walk out. (And OH, don't forget to chalk your back good enough to help keep the bar from slipping down your back)....take a very deep breath, squeeze your hands, shoulders, stomach and push up. Walk out with minimal amount of steps, 2-3 at the most. Practice your walk out with lighter weight as you warm-up to perfect it; to get into the habit of doing it right every time! After walking out and setting up make sure your feet are at the proper distance apart - now you ask what is the proper distance. Hopefully you have some idea what is comfortable and best suited to your body structure and strengths, but in case you haven't a clue as to what planet we are now on here goes with a few helpful suggestions.
-Shorter people usually are narrower
-Taller people further apart
-Short back and long leg people; i.e. Lamar Gant and Jarmo Virtanen can use either form of feet placement.
Look at this chart to summarize stances:
Short Back Medium Back Long Back
Short Legs Med/Wide Medium/Wide Short/Medium
Medium Legs Med/Wide Med/Wide Short/Medium
Long Legs Narrow/Med/Wide Medium Short/Medium
This is only a generalization - there is a reason for the above - It would take 5 pages to discuss it and give the reasons - If you really want to know ...Call Me - We'll talk.
Hip, leg and back strength also dictate the stance - Below is a chart to show it! Depending on where your strong points come from.
Strength comes from: HIPS LEGS BACK
Stance: wide wide/med med/narrow
After walking out and setting up.....LOOK UP!!! or at least OUT!!! but NEVER DOWN!!!
Now your head can be in 1 of 4 places.
1. Looking way up - For people with wider stances and the
bar higher on their back.
2. Looking out - For the most or the average lifter.
3. Looking down - For the closer stance squatter with the
bar lower on his back.
4. Looking at the mat - With a flat face! Showing you
screwed up and haven't listened to anything I've
said to you!!!
You should still be holding a DEEP BREATH from setting up..... Make sure as you get ready to descend (that means to go down for some of you) you are flexing your stomach, hands, neck, face,..... all upper body parts, etc.
As you are going
push your knees out a bit,(not forward)
chest out, shoulders back, buttocks
back (causing a small arch in your back)
At the bottom of the lift, your shins should be almost vertical and your knees are over your ankles. Michael Bridges made this popular by giving it a name "The Bridges Flair", even though it has been a part of my form for 30+ years.
As you approach your bottom point - where the imaginary line from the top of your knee to your hip joint breaks parallel - you pull yourself through the point with a slight BOUNCE and then DRIVE UP with your upper body, hands, arms, legs, hips, back,..... otherwise with EVERYTHING YOU OWN!
Sometimes the imaginary line is more imaginary than at other times depending on how much you paid the referees or whether you are dating his sister or daughter.
Any way.....as you stand up (or get scraped up, whatever the case may be) after completing the lift, go ahead and walk forward racking the bar. Hopefully the spotters aren't taking a lunch break and will help you a bit-NO! HOPEFULLY ALOT!!
Stop, Walk, Rack and Breath! Finally it's over.
A FEW VITAL POINTS TO REMEMBER!
Squat slow and under control,
FORM IS EVERYTHING
Always squeeze the bar
Always squeeze your abs (stomach),
whatever the case may be
ALWAYS SQUEEZE EVERYTHING
PRACTICE MAKES ALMOST PERFECT
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