You hit the gym. You’re feeling strong, pumped, and ready to attack a new squat PB. But as you unrack the bar, descend to the bottom of the squat, and turn the power on to drive back up, the unthinkable happens. Your hips shoot up, your chest falls forward, and you get stuck in a good morning position, fighting for your life to get out of the hole.

 

What happened? I'll take an educated guess your elbows shot up and backwards. If you flare your elbows like this in the back squat, you cause the bar to move forward and away from your centre of mass. This sends your hips down, your chest up, and takes your legs out of the equation completely. It’s a common mistake that’s nearly impossible to recover from. It leaves your lower back to assume the load and finish the lift.

 

How to Fix Flared Elbows in the Squat

Luckily, there’s an easy fix. Cue your elbows to pull in and down towards your hips to stop your hips drifting back. This makes your torso more stable and ensures your legs manage the bulk of the weight, not your back. As you hit depth, continue to drive the elbows forward and push the bar backwards to keep your chest upright and your hips moving forward. You’ll instantly find it easier to keep your back straight as you ascend, particularly with lighter loads.

 

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Now your elbows take on a new importance in your squat. They start to work for you, instead of against you. Watch the video below to see what I mean.

 

 

Bear in mind that with heavier weights your elbows may not physically move forwards, but the act of trying to move them reduces the likelihood of elbow flare by creating tension in the lats and upper back.

 

To summarise:

  1. Grasp the bar. Pull your elbows into your hips and get tight.
  2. As you hit depth, drive out of the hole and keep your elbows pulled forward and down. Push back against the bar.
  3. Power up out of the hole with an elevated chest and a straight torso.
  4. Chalk up your new PB.

 

Keep your elbows forward and you'll be sending your old squat maxes backwards in no time.

 

This article was originally published on Breaking Muscle UK.

 

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Teaser photo courtesy of Rx'd Photography.

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