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Lifting Incorrectly

One of the things I have noticed (through myself) is that people always try to lift heavier weight but at the same time perform the exercises incorrectly, usually with bad form or technique. This ends up causing serious injury, especially when it comes to squats or the power clean. For example, when squatting, rookies a lot of people stop squatting above parallel (instead of performing “Ass To Grass” squats) in hopes of lifting heavier weight. Most advanced trainers know that stopping above parallel is dangerous, inefficient and useless. A lot of trainees also maintain incorrect form by forgetting to keep their knees outwards when squatting down and not leaving a shoulder’s width between their feet. I have also witnessed some people simply going down a few inches from the starting point when squatting (referred to as “quarter squats” among the community) which is quite simply, a wasted workout. Usually, these people who start off on the wrong foot have a hard time fixing their technique since they feel discouraged when they downgrade the weight on the bar. They must know that when you actually perform the lifts correctly, you are going to get more efficient results than simply lifting heavy weights. You will only get stronger if you build the base correctly (meaning, utilize the full potential of your muscles). In other words, use the full range of your muscles to achieve optimum results. When you squat all the way down, you are actually using all of your hamstrings potential to build better muscle.

More than two months ago, I learned the above the hard way when I was performing the squats incorrectly and this resulted in me experiencing a slight pain in my hamstrings. For the next month and a half, I had a hard time performing the squats because of this pain. Until I realized my form was to blame, I wasted more than a month performing incorrect squatting techniques. To fix my problem, I re-read the squat section in the Starting Strength book and figured out what I was doing wrong (my knees were too inward). Coupled with some key stretching exercises, I was back in the squatting game and have been lifting heavier since with the proper form. Sometimes you need to re-evaluate your exercise techniques to make sure you’re getting the best out of your workouts.

4 Responses to “Lifting Incorrectly”

  1. Tom Says:


    I’ve been squatting (full squats) for ~ 3 weeks however I’ve started feeling pain in my knees. It doesn’t feel mechanical like tennis elbow does, but like DOMS in my knee? Should this happen? If not, do you know what could be wrong with my technique?


    PS. I also deadlift and power clean, which could be causing this, I just figured it was probably the squats.

  2. Saro Says:

    Hey Tom, how wide is your stance (at the heels)? If they’re too wide, they can cause knee problems. You should definitely NOT feel any pain in your knees while squatting. Are you going a bit below parallel?

    The deadlift and power clean can also do this, but when are you feeling the pain exactly? During or after?

  3. Tom Says:

    I don’t feel the pain while squatting.

    I felt it yesterday (a day in which I never worked out), so I thought it could be DOMS, but I didn’t think you could DOMS in/near the knee.

    The width of my stance is shoulder-width, as recommended in the book. I get a good depth, much further than parallel. In fact, if I were asked to “squat down, all the way” (as Rippetoe recommend you say to whoever you’re training), my hamstrings would be fully touching my calves and maintaining this position wouldn’t be taxing on my quads/glutes/hams.

    Does this mean that in my most natural position my knee does most of the work? Does this mean I’m too flexible? In the book, Rippetoe talks about those who are too flexible and he recommends using the cue of remaining tight in the legs at the bottom of the squat, I’ve been trying this but given I know have knee pain, could it be due to my flexibility?

    With deadlift I think the only problem with form is my back sometimes rounds when lowering the barbell, I guess this can be fixed by just trying harder to keep my back straight.

    I’m not sure about my power clean technique, it’s getting better but I still don’t know if it’s any good. I’m trying to find somebody near to where I live who knows the correct technique.

    Thanks for the help

  4. Saro Says:

    Sorry for the late response!

    Hmm… are you leaning a bit forward? Check out page 21, Figure 6. Try leaning just a bit forward to alleviate some stress on the knees. At this point, if your stance is good and you’re pretty sure you have the form right, then it simply might be joint pain. This is normal if you’re a first time trainer. If you have been doing this for a while, check out flaxseed oil as a supplement. I’ve heard they’re good for prevent joint pain. Also try Glucosamine supplementation.

    The power clean is the most difficult exercise to learn I find. I was lucky enough to have a random veteran at the gym critic my style when I was doing them. He said what I was doing was excellent (all I did was follow Rippetoe’s chapter on the power clean).

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