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How to improve Balance during Squats?


Jun 5, 2002
I am having trouble getting my performance on squats to improve. Here's my issue, I think my balance or some element of my form is the problem. When I do a traditional squat with free weights the most that I can do without feeling unstable (like I'm going to topple over when I'm at the bottom of the squat trying to get quads to parallel), is 405 lbs (4 plates/side). Any more and I feel too unstable at the bottom position. When I go the Smith machine I can do 5 plates/side and although it's a bitch to move the weight, the freedom of not having to balance it really helps.

Unfortunately (and I don't mean to offend anyone), I feel like a pussy using the Smith Machine to do this. I really want to improve my free weight squat. Any suggestions?


PS: Yeah, I know I'm weak, so don't point that out, my fragile ego can't take it :eek: :p :D
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try making a conscious effort in keeping your upper toso more erect. keeping your head back helps. don't look down while your squating. You probably already know this though. Strengthing your lower back with weighted hyperextensions, deadlifts and having strong abs will strenthen your minsection/core to allow you to stabalize yourself much better.

all in all it might just be that you are not ready for that weight yet.

I personally like squating on the smith machine much better. I like to place my feet a lil farther out in front of my because I feel it much more in my quads this way. You really can't do this with free weights. You need to be completely under the bar to balance yourself. I don't know why you would feel like your cheating yourself doing them like this. The hardest way to do something is not necessarily always the best.


Actually what Conan said makes sense. Keep your torso erect, chest out, head back and the weight on your heels. If you're doin this and you still feel off, play with your stance a bit. Widen it out or bring it in a bit.

One thing that I've found really beneficial is gettin a friend to film me while squatting. Give it a go. That way you can see yourself from all angles without breaking your concentration or form. The first time you do it, work all the way through your squat routine before viewing the video... that way you're not subconsciously trying to fix the little problems instead of concentrating on what you're doin. Work on one thing at a time if you see problems. That helps alot.
along with the other tips try pulling your elbows forward this helps keep you more in line. squatting is big time about form. once you have a good form you will be able to go farther then before.
Great ideas guys! I'm gonna print this thread and try these. As for the video, I'd have to get my wife to do it since I'm such an ugly bastard :D

I use a milk crate at the bottom of my squat. I put it behind me so I know how low I have gone.....when my ass touches...I go back up.

I second a Smith Machine....you can go heavier and have more support and control.
take off your shoes. this will keep you from rolling up on the balls of your feet
I love these threads, you learn alot-especially such a difficult exercise like squats.
You must keep your hips/pelvis from rotating under you it must be kept straight with head up. Throw the hips out when you hit bottom and begin the lift.

PS-I love the smith machine too, no more bar for me. Easier on the low back also, but not so much so you dont work the shit out of it!
bro a major factor in squating is how flexible you are in your hams.

Get to the point where you can squat to paralell with nothing under your heals

You'll have the proper balance, then allowing you to gain good size
couple more for ya

Try putting a sticker on the mirror in front of you, and stare at it during the entire lift. Place the sticker about 45 degrees up from head level while standing. If that doesn't make sense let try to explain better. Stand upright in your squat rack. Look straight ahead. Now look up about 3 feet. Place a sticker on the wall on that spot. Now keep your eyes on the sticker during your squat. It really works well to keep your balance. If you dont want to use a sticker just pick a target such as the top of the mirror. Another trick is using a different grip. Put your neck under the bar like normal, then go to put your hands on the bar like normal, but keep going and raise your hands up and then out toward the plates. Now the bar is resting on your traps like normal but also your shoulders, your arms are streched way out to your sides (like a gymnast) and your hands are kind of hanging in front of the bar. Having your arms out to the side further with this style should help with balance. You don't see balance beam walkers with their hands to their sides, they have them extended out. I don't know if this made sense so I could post a picture if you are interested.
all the top squatters at my gym never face the mirror to avoid looking at your depth and dropping your head. face away from the mirror and let your partner tell you if you are getting your depth or not. pick a point out on the ceiling some where and keep your chin up
first- go get ureself some adidas classic or chuck taylor converse all-star shoes(completely flat bottom sole)
second- pick a point on the wall infront of you and lock your eyes onto it, dont look anywhere but there when u squat
third-take your squat stance and "flare" your feet out, (pivot on heels, move toes abt 2inches out)
fourth- instead of resting the bar on ure lower neck, roll the bar gradually(ove a few weeks) down ure neck, so it rests more on the trap/rear delt area,usually a wide grip helps get the bar down

i hope some of this info helped ya bro
Alot of good advice here, tomorrow is leg day and I will try out these suggestions, with a lower weight at first to make sure I understand and get the feel right.

Couple things - I do wear flat bottom training shoes, Otomix Ultimate trainer. I do look forward and keep my head up, otherwise I'd really be off balance and on my ass. However, I don't do a good job at focusing on one spot directly ahead. I also think flexibility is a problem for sure, I also think my torso is not as strong as it should be to stabilize me during heavy free weight lifts. I'm gonna work on these two issues.

Anybody got any step by step pic's of a squat with really good form?

thanks guys,

well going from what u just said
id suggest two things, and u prolly already know em
do some heavy AB work, like kneeling pully crunches
and use the ab/adductor machine(we call it the sex machine for some reason)this will help stabilize u in the hole
also the otomix have a slight raise in the heel area, but they are just abt flat
also try to pinch ure shoulder blades together while squatting
Technique is a big deal when squatting big weights. You also need to have strong abs and obliques. You also need some lower and upper back work. I'd have to see some video to really give an accutare assesment.


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