Weightlifting & Exercise/Help with low bar squat


Hi Daniel,
     I would like some help with my low bar squat. I am 2 months into a beginners weight lifting program. I am 37 years old, 6 foot tall, 167lbs. The problems is that no matter how hard I try I cannot seem to get correct form in my low bar squat. I have a link to a you tube clip of it.This is with 120lbs.   


I know my right shoulder rotates a bit and i push forward out of hole,my bar path is way off(over toes and beyond). I try to keep my chest up and shoulders tight, i try to hit just below parallel,knees out etc.....but when i attempt to squat ..its like all these things are too much...too many things to correct at once, and my squat ends up awful.

Have you any tips on a systematic way for me to correct my form?
Is there anything that i should address first?

I work out from home so i have no assistance other than recording myself and replaying to see where i am going wrong.

I have tried both flat shoes and weight lifting shoes(high heel) but doesn't, seem to matter. The weight is not really that hard to lift but I need to sort my technique out before i can really progress with adding weight.

Any help would be much appreciated,

Thanks in advance,


Hey Peter,

A strong possibility of what is happening is that your body compensates for muscle imbalances and your body will change form because of it. Usually I do a full assessment with clients and the first posture test I will do is a bilateral squat with arms bisecting the ears and sticking out in front to see dynamic movement.  
See link for picture of what I mean. http://blog.nasm.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Capture-11.jpg

Now the reason for this is to see when there is no weight how does the body react when doing the squat. Since you  told me that you do the exercise properly but your body somehow cannot manage proper form it is an indication of some muscle imbalances. In your situation Peter, the fact you have a barbell plus the weight will show the problem come out even more, so this is GOOD that you spotted this before you loaded too much weight and end up getting injured.

Now for  a systematic correction, I look at several things

1) how are the shoulders moving and reacting during the squat ( can they maintain position or are they moving, are your traps elevating?)

2) how are your hips/ lumbo pelvic area reacting during the squat ( are you leaning forward, or is your back showing an extreme exaggerated curve at the lumbar region?)

3) how are your knees acting  ( are they turning in or out?)

4) and lastly how are your ankles behaving ( are they turning in and caving in or turning outward?)

Most of the time I have noticed people will have multiple things to work on and not just one area because one area will affect the other. Think like this, if your ankles started to turn in, your knees would probably change and turn in as well right? So that might affect other regions of the body as well not just one area. And in most of the time it is the case of muscles that are overactive (used too much) and underative muscles ( muscles not used enough and are weak).  From what you told me, your leaning forward could be that your erector spinae muscles (the muscles that keep your back straight up) could be underactive/ weak and need to be trained, and your core abdominals could be weak as well. ( plank progressions can be used). The reason why I say this is because when your leaning forward, your erector spine is responsible for keeping you upright/ erect and your abominals help stabilize to keep your body from moving. So when your moving forward it is because your body cannot support the exercise your trying to do and "tada" your body makes the change to complete the exercise.  Some overactive muscles that you should look at and stretch are the Soleus, Gastrocnemeus (calves) and the hip flexors. Stretch those after your work out between 20-30 seconds , 2-3 sets per side and see if any of those you feel are tight when your doing your stretching exercises. You can find multiple exercises just by google and pick the one you like the most. The ones I prefer is the calf stair step stretch, the soleus wall stretch and the lying hip flexion stretch.

As for the weak underactive muscles, try to include back extension exercises ( light weights first) of 12-20 reps with good form and some abdominal work For planks try doing 30-45 seconds, if you can go longer for a minute, then go with that. Try that for 1-2 sets.

As for your shoulders, I am not sure about how they rotate, so I will take that out of the equation for now. This is just my opinion, I would actually need to see you from the frontal view to get a better picture of it.

Here is a link that might also be of use to you. Hope this helps, http://blog.nasm.org/cex/overactive-versus-underactive-muscles-mean/

Let me know how your progress goes.

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I am an Exercise Scientist & Strength and Conditioning coach with 6 specializations/credentials, - Strength Conditioning Specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association, primarily dealing with athletic performance training. - Corrective Exercise specialist (CES) and Sports Performance Coach (PES) with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. - An Health fitness Specialist with the American College Of Sports Medicine - An Exercise Physiologist with CSEP. -TRX Group Qualified instructor.

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