I’ve lost count of the number of times a lifter complains about some pain related to squats; or their frustration over not “getting” the technique of squats; or not hitting new PR’s on the squat — and having the answer be, “push through your heels.”
MOST beginners (even most intermediates) on the Barbell Squat — front and back — don’t stay far enough back on their heels. By allowing yourself to shift forward further onto the ball of your foot as you go down — eventually being almost completely on the ball of your foot in the bottom — is a huge source of injury and failure.
Let’s fix it!
Healed by Heels
Practice this with light weights until it feels natural.
- Pick the toes of your foot UP inside of your shoe so that only the part of your foot from heel to ball is touching the ground.
- Keep them up, don’t let them touch the ground, throughout the WHOLE squat
Eventually you won’t squat this way, but it’s a fun drill to test yourself and see just how crappy your technique really is!
- As you go down, INCREASE the amount of weight you feel bearing down onto your heels
- As you come up, PUSH your heels down into the ground as hard as you can — and don’t stop till you are finished!
Keep your mind on your heels. Be STRICT. Don’t let yourself slide forward just because it “feels more normal”. What you feel is the horrible influence of a bad habit. To break a bad habit requires a long period of adjustment — that ain’t gonna feel natural.
A Note About Footwear and Foot Placement
It’s highly likely that you will need to do one or both of the following:
- Increase the size of your heel on your shoe
- Widen your stance
There is a cult out there in fitness that can’t seem to grasp the idiocy of the naturalistic fallacy.
They are convinced that if something isn’t “natural” it must be bad (and vice versa). They don’t just apply this to diet, but also to their training programs… and training outfits!?
Stop doing deep ass-to-grass squats barefoot (or in barefoot-like shoes) with a narrow stance! That’s insane and a recipe for injury.
The worlds best (and biggest) squatters all do at least one of the above: wear a (HIGH) heel, or squat wider, or both.
Nearly every lifter in my gym has increased the height of their olympic lifting shoes by a minimum of 7mm (up to 12mm) higher than the shoes original height — which was already high. That’s quite common in the Olympic lifting world.
If you’re a powerlifter, and you won’t be squatting much below parallel (whatever that means in our Fed), then you might prefer a flatter shoe… but you’ll then need to go wider to achieve the same basic thing — staying on the heel.
The goal — either way! — is to make staying WAY back on the foot (heels) easier.
Let’s face it, most of us got into Olympic weightlifting for the spandex and heels 😉 Embrace both.
Now go lift something heavy,