How a Lack of Strength Causes Compensation During Squats and Olympic Lifts

By djpope

November 11, 2018

Clean, cleans, compensation, fault, form, injury, Olympic Lifting, olympic weightlifting, snatch, snatches, squat, squats, strength, Technique, weakness

I’ve written a lot in the past about mobility issues and how a lack of mobility can cause compensations at another joint.  A good example is a lack of ankle dorsiflexion causing some increased lumbar flexion (butt wink) in the bottom of a squat.

It’s also pretty well understood that a lack of a good coach or someone to teach good technique can cause poor motion as well.  What I think is a little less appreciated is how a lack of strength can also cause these compensations.

So, How Does a Lack of Strength Cause Compensation During Squats and Olympic Lifts…

As a competitive strongman for years I got pretty good at deadlifting and pretty bad at squatting.  When I got involved in CrossFit and Olympic Weightlifting (where an upright squat is king) I had a lot of trouble.  I got pretty strong utilizing my lower back and hips for lifts and pretty weak staying upright and using my quads.  For that reason I ended up trying to deadlift all of my squat weights.  I’d have the same issue during olympic lifts.  My body was just not strong in an upright squatting position and I defaulted to a hips back position every time the load got too heavy for my quads to handle it.

Check out the video below for a better explanation:

So there you have it, the major reason why I feel like I’ve had to pass out on every heavy clean since 2008.  I’ve built so much strength in my posterior chain that every time my pitiful quads can’t handle the load I’ve shot my hips backwards to finish each lift.

Unfortunately for us, this isn’t always the easiest problem to fix for athletes like this.  For me it’s taken several years of squatting in a much more upright position.  Once you build strength in the right positions, you won’t have to compensate to finish your lifts.  Easier said then done but it’s the only real solution.

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Let’s just deadlift and not squat ok?

Dan Pope DPT, OCS, CSCS, CF L1