March 01, 2007
In Popular Bicomechanics Mark Rippetoe of Wichita Falls Athletic Club/CrossFit Wichita Falls says there are objective ways to describe proper form for the basic barbell exercises that are valid for everybody who does them, regardless of their anthropometry.
Any correct pull from the floor—for deadlift, clean, or snatch—will start with the bar directly under the scapulas and against the shins, regardless of your femur or back length. It is also a fact that a squat is only in balance when the bar is directly over that same middle one-third of the foot. If the bar path is vertical, two other squat variables can be analyzed. The angle of the back—that is, the general plane of the torso—will vary with the position of the bar on the torso, either on the back for a back squat or on the frontal deltoids for a front squat. Another immutable criterion for correct form is that your thighs will be aligned with your feet.
These criteria are based on skeletal considerations that do not vary, even though the individual expression of these criteria will. There are many ways to screw up the lifts, but an understanding of what we should be looking for at crucial places in the movements reduces the number of ways we are likely to do so. It also gives us some objective anatomical data on which to base our discussions of good form and best practices for lifting.