deep squat question

For deep back squats, my coach wants us to have little plates for a support under our heels.
Can someone tell me what the reason is for this? My coach doesn’t seem to have a good enough reason. She just said that all weight lifters have shoes with a heel support, but that doesn’t really cover my curiosity…
My weight trainining coach back in the states ALWAYS emphasized to keep our weight on the heel while performing squats, so this “new” theory with the plates under the heel seems a little odd to me.

Also, is a belt really necessary for deep squats?

No belts are not needed

Plates lift the heel up so it is easier to squat. People tend to think that flexibility limits foll squat depth, the plates alleviate this. Plates make squats a very quad dominated movement.

IMO or in my experience it’s not the lack of flexibility, rather a weak posterior chain, or difficulty in sitting back which limits depth for most people.

I don’t agree about having heels raised making it a quad dominant squat

having raised heels allows you to sit back further actually - that’s if you want to :slight_smile:

I wouldnt do them with the heel raised, you should be flexible enough to do a full backsquat without the heel elevated.


I can fullsquat in chuck taylors no problems :slight_smile:

but they are soft and squishy and have no arch supprt, plus they are highcut too

Oly shoes are solid, wooden heel, they make you feel like your bolted to the floor. And I get much better leverage squatting in them. They just feel safer and confidence inspring - there is zero give.

again use what works for you. heel or no heel, the end result matters little. Safety and confidence comes first IMO

frontsquats to rock bottom are pretty much near impossible with a vertical back without heel raised olyshoes. Unless you like your wrists to feel all the pressure from the bar :slight_smile:

I used to do them a lot, and heavy, no problem in just regular shoes…i think its a flexablitiy issue…some people can naturally just get down there others have to work at it.

You may be right.

In the end I feel using plates is a crutch and you should be able to squat without the plates

From a mechanical standpoint, when one elevates the heel, in a full squat position, the COG is shifted forward more inline with the balls of the feet, therebye, creating a greater forward shin angle which places greater stress on the quadriceps/knee joint and less on the posterior chain. Thus, for a quad dominant squatter, an elevated heel provides a mechanical advantage.

Conversely, more strength is demanded of the posterior chain in order to full squat in flat soled shoes, as well as flexibility of the calves and posterior chain. The greater stretch of the calves, required to full squat in flat soled shoes, actually causes the COG to shift rearward over the heels causing the pelvis to further rotate to the posterior. This creates a mechanical position in which the hips are actually closer to the ground.

Stephanie, if your coach is unable to provide precise and logical reasoning as to the justification for employing a particular training means or method into the training program, then she has NO business being a coach.

You will simply have to excel in spite of her incompetance, just like the majority of athletes in the US.

I just have to go wider and lean more forward when I fullsquat in a flat soled shoe, the ROM of the ankle is the same. The heel allows one to squat much more upright

having said that there are so many ways to fullsquat, even in a heeled shoe - you can be super erect almost like a frontsquat, but pushing the hips forward or you can sit back and lean over more - I have squatted either way by choice depending on what I wanted to do.
The heel doesn’t change anything it just allows you to stay more upright and thus squat with a narrower stance.

This is for me - your mileage may vary off coiurse :slight_smile:

except shes in greece :stuck_out_tongue:

This coach that I have is the one I have in Greece (I’m traininig in Greece until December (studying abroad), then I go back to the States). My weight traininig coach in the States always stresses the point that our heels should be flat on the ground and if one is not flexible enough to do that, he makes the person do flexibility exercises before attempting anything with the bar and weights.

When my current coach had me use the plates for the first time and I did 10 reps of deep back squats I felt some pressure behind my knees and just felt the front part of my legs working, which I didn’t like.

On another note: I have learned that encouraging the front part of the leg to be more dominant than the back makes one more prone to ACL injury.

The heel DOES change the mechanics of the lifter. Any external factor that causes a change in joint angles, which a raised heel does by inducing plantar flexion, must be noted.

I asked my friend about this deep squat issue, because he’s into weight lifting, and he did a search for me. This is some information we got out of this:

“Putting plates under your heels is used to help people with less flxibility perform deeper squats but should only be done with light weight because it places your toes in front of your knees. This places more emphasis/stress on the knee joints and is more liekly to cause injury…you are able to lift more weight, but the emphasis is placed on the knee joints, and taken away from the hamstring/gluts and quads. So this method should be used by beginners having trouble with form, people with low levels of flexibility, and used only with minimal weight”

“Stay away from potentially crippling variations of the squat such as squatting with your heels raised, or the smith machine squat; these are the serious knee damagers.”

"If you have proper form, and do not use too much weight then you should be fine. When you get up real high in weight like 700lb squats then yeah you are pushing the limits of your body and if you haven’t prepared your body properly or I think if you have shitty luck in regards to how you knees are built (genetics) you can blow out your knee. Squats are harsh on the spinal cord as well. If you gradually build up in weight and are conservative in increases in weight while doing squats you should be fine unless you have a pre-existing condition. Sometimes people are unaware of a problem they have because they are inactive with that particular movement or muscle, hence when they start squatting it will flare up, some mistake this with the squats hurting them. My suggestion is as follows: keep the reps relatively high to begin with, like 20 when you first start. Do not put plates behind your heels, do not let knees go over your toes (do not move knees at all, you should hinge from knee and there should be no bending AT ALL in the ankle), do not use a weight belt until you are getting real high in weight like 600lbs (otherwise this will cause you to not work your lower back and since you aren’t strengthing lower back, as you increase weight it can set you up for injury). Last but not least when increasing the weight don’t just increase it because you can. Do it slowly. Say you normally do 8 reps. If you can do 9 don’t just increase the weight because you went over 8. Go to like 12-15 then increase the weight. This will give you a better strength base, make it so you are less likely to plateau as you have built up a better base, and you are less likely to hurt yourself. Also make sure you tighten abs and almost try to touch your belly button to your spine (hard to describe) this stabalizes your torso making it less likely to hurt yourself.

Stephanie… no offense, but your friend is an idiot. Raising the heel does put more stress on the knee joint but eventually that will lead to more adaptation. Not necessarily injury. Does the SSB set you up for a spinal injury? Of course not. Smith machine squats suck… but mainly for biomechanical reasons linked to the fixed bar path. A lot of elite powerlifters go over 700 pounds in squatting every week in training and don’t blow out their knees or backs. Ben Johnson squatted 660 @ 180 with no wraps or suit and did not have a knee injury. 20 rep squats are a stupid idea. As you get tired it will be difficult to keep proper form and because the weight is light you will be able to get away with bad form. Plus it is not specific to the muscle fibers used for sprinting and will lead to significant non-funcitonal hypertrophy. The knees can travel over the toes if you have prepared your legs and knees for the shear forces. SHW olympic lifters are notorious for having huge heel raises and are also notorious for squatting 700 pounds or more raw in training. Olympic lifting has fewer knee injuries than soccer. The weight belt is a personal preference thing. It takes more than a goddamn weight belt to unrack 600 pounds. Could the belt create errant motor patterns or strength imblanaces? It is possible. But it is not a big deal. Lifters used to use belts for all movements (even in the 80’s) and the removal of the belt from training has not made a serious difference in injuries. Most powerlifters still use belts today when the weight gets heavy.

Elevating the heels is an attempt to lengthen the tibia and thereby give the athlete a greater mechanical advantage. Proper soleus flexibility helps but depending on the athletes structure, “Full” ROM may never be possible, that is without sacrificing the lumbar spine. JMan had it right.

Ok, so after all this discussion, I don’t think that I have an answer after all:

I’m a sprinter. Not a weightlifter who seeks for mechanical advantages over other weightlifters in order to squat more weights. I just want to train my muscles right for sprinting.
My posterior chain and calves are apparently flexible enough in order to do a full deep squat without needing my heels to be raised, but my coach wants me to use plates anyways.
SO: what is it better for me to do? Keep squating with my feet flat, or it doesn’t really matter and it’s not a big deal if I listen to my coach and do it her way? (with plates, that is).

Squat with the soles flat. It is much more stable than the plate setup.