The Best Levers For Squatting Squatting facts that the "experts" seem to ignore.

The squat has become a symbol of the superhero. If you don’t squat, you might just as well kill yourself.

Remember: “Squats are the key to out of this world hypertrophy. They make your whole body grow. If you don’t squat, you are a pussy. Squat heavy or go home…etc.” {lol}

The truth is that similar statements are correct only to a certain point. I’ve seen a lot of people in the gym behaving like massive cowards afraid of everything except bicep curls. During my second month in a training facility I was already seeing the unjustified fear of squats. There was a group of teens who would put on a belt for 150 lbs quarter squats. It was funny.


Anyway, some people may benefit from the “squat or die” encouragement and attempt something a little harder than wrist curls and cable cross-overs. However, this article is not meant to motivate those people. It’s for the individuals who have tried squatting hard without getting much out of the exercise. Of course, the 150 lbs belt 1/4 squatters can also benefit.

What makes a good squatter?

What determines a good squatter is torso to femur proportions. The best squatters are those with short femurs and long torsos. In the graphic below you can see how the person with long torso and short femurs remains more upright during the squat while the other squatter with long femurs and short torso has to bend over much more.

Remember: the bar always forms a straight line towards the middle of the foot. That’s the only way to balance. A little too forward or backwards and you will lose balance and fall.

squat-long-short-femur

A real life examples of a long torso + short femurs squatters would be the following people:

1. Tom Platz

{example of why long torso + short femurs + squats = proportionate lower body}

Platz is the king of the squat when it comes to high reps and mass. Everybody knows the story. There is no need for five sentences describing the leg development of Platz like it’s a T-Nation article.

The reason why the squat was such a good quad builder for Platz is that his femurs are relatively short. This coupled with his style of squatting (high bar, close stance, back as straight as possible) is one of the reasons for his leg size. The other four are hard work, genetics, Vitamin S (roids) and food. That’s it.

2. Ed Coan

Ed Coan has the best possible lever for powerlifting. Here’s why.

1. He has short femurs.

In the video below he is doing low bar squats. He used those in competition every time. No high bar squats. However, since his legs are short even when he does low bar he does not bend over as much. He doesn’t have to. He could easily squat with a back as straight as Platz does in the previous video. He has the needed proportions.

It’s not a coincidence that his squat is so good. He was built to squat.

2. He has long arms

Ed Coan is short but his arms are long in relation to his torso. That’s why he deadlifts so much.

The only lift where he struggles because of his build is the bench press, but out of the three lifts this is the one that affects your total the least. Many powerlifters would trade a weak bench press for a strong deadlift or squat.

Anyway, Ed Coan is an example of why short femurs make you a great squatter even when it comes to powerlifting.

3. Liu Hao ( 94 kg lifter)

The Chinese weightlifter in the video below is Liu Hao and a perfect example of what short femurs make for your squat. You are so upright that the motion looks like you are in a smith machine. Liu Hao is designed for squatting exclusively and has the proportions to compete at the highest possible level. This is how a genetically gifted weightlifter looks like. If the coaches wanted to assemble the perfect lifter, he would like him.

Note: People like that are not that rare. It’s just that not many of them give a fuck about squats in the first place.

And now time for the more interesting part – the suckers. The genetically fucked up lifters.

Here are some example of people who were not built to squat with a barbell.

1. Layne Norton

Layne has some long legs and exceptionally short torso which makes him a squat morning kinda of guy. His squat is super hip dominant and he bends over like the exercise is a barbell good morning. Note that even with Olympic shoes he still can’t help it. If he was not using those shoes, the bending over may be even more pronounced.

For guys like him the squat is not a quad builder. It’s a hip exercise and your ass will get huge from it. Also, many will experience hip overuse. That’s because the hips are overloaded through large range of motion.

2. Steve Goggins

Steve Goggons is a powerlifter with bad squatting levers. His squat is not exactly a squat. It’s a squat morning like the one of Layne. They virtually squat the same way.

Note: The fact that those lifters are doing the low bar contributes a lot to their extreme bending over. However, even if they were using the high bar position, the exercise would still look mechanically inferior compared to the naturally born squatters.

FAQ:

Q: Are you talking about proportions or overall length?

In general, I am talking about femur length in relation to your torso. You can be tall and still have long torso and short legs, but it’s HIGHLY unlikely. Most people who are tall have long femurs and the short guys have short.

Q: What can I do to fix that?

Nothing. Your squat will always be weird and you will feel it less in the quads and more in the hip. You can’t fix it. It’s impossible. You can try stuff like wider stance, but what was never meant to be will never be.

You can still get strong in this squat morning movement, but you will never feel at home. It’s like a man with short arms trying to deadlift. He can do it, but it simply sucks.

Still, Norton and Goggins are an example showing that even with fucked up levers you can squat morning a ton of weight and be a legendary powerlifter.

This is helped by the fact that long femurs and short torsos usually come with long hands which equal a monster deadlift. Most people with long femurs are good deadlifters which makes their total from all the three powerlifts go up. There are no secrets. Those guys simply have an advantage when it comes to deadlifting.

A perfect example of a long femur/short torso would also be Bob Peoples who was known for his deadlift.

Bob Peoples had long arms and is known as one of the best deadlifters.

Bob Peoples had long arms and is known as one of the best deadlifters.

Q: What about recreational natural lifters?

If you have long femurs and short torso, the squat may not be the best leg builder for you. Quite honestly your legs will always be weak. That’s because long legs usually come with long hamstring tendons and high calves.

Why? Because long legs are meant for explosive work such as sprinting, running, kicking, jumping..etc. People like Usain Bolt will not be able to set world records with the legs of the Chinese lifter from the video above. They would always be behind somebody with long legs made out of high calves and short hamstrings (best combination for sprinting).

Powerlifting and especially Olympic weightlifting are simply not very kind to people with long legs. You can still do those and be great but it would be more of an exception.

If you are doing squats simply for leg hypertrophy, you should stick to high bar squats while trying to remain as vertical possible. However, that’s easier said that done and many people with long femurs will experience a lot of knee stress from trying to stay too upright because in order for the back to remain more vertical the knees have to travel forward a lot. This can create nasty shear force and cause knee pain.

Many people in similar position would benefit from leg pressing which is generally a more quad dominant movement. Hack squats are also an option if your knees feel fine from them. In general, developing big quads could be a major problem for the tall guy. (think Layne Norton)

I don’t want to discourage anybody. You should follow your heart as they say, but those are still the facts. Long femurs suck for squatting and that’s about it. Nothing you can do about it.

3 comments

  1. gilbert

    none other than arnold schwarzenegger . great as he was was never a good squatter. barely hit 500. lou ferrigno franco . and maybe oliva were better at squats. me too could deadlift more even after 5000 sets of rock bottom squats.

  2. Mike

    Long femurs, short torso here and still managed to build huge quads via squats. Actually, I only feel squats in my quads as opposed to glutes/hams. Not sure if having huge/strong calves had anything to do with it.

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