Active Lumbar in the Squat

By Mark Rippetoe

In Powerlifting, Videos

May 26, 2009

Video Article

Coach Mark Rippetoe introduces the basic terminology, vocabulary, and muscular awareness necessary to understand human movement.

This footage is taken from his Basic Barbell Certification seminar at CrossFit Brand X in Ramona, CA on February 14, 2009.

In this video, Rip explains the proper lumbar mechanics required for squatting effectively. Awareness of the pelvis and the musculature of the lower back is essential. A slight anterior pelvic tilt is generally required at the start of the squat so that lumbar stability is not lost at the bottom of the squat.

Rip says that a significant percentage of athletes are not even aware enough of the lumbar spine to know when they lose their arch while squatting, deadlifting, or even grabbing something casually off the floor.

7min 19sec

Free Download

Part 1:
Part 2:


14 Comments on “Active Lumbar in the Squat”


Kevin Wood wrote …

Can't wait for Rip's fix to the problem.

And props to buddy for keeping his arms up for that long.


Daniel Kallen wrote …

Coach Rippetoe,

During this Cert, you whispered something to the guy who could not voluntarily get his back into extension... At the time, you did not share what you told him with the group.

I'd love to know what it was, as I have a client now in very much the same situation. Perhaps there are others out there who could benefit from the cue.

If you remember, would you mind sharing you said to him?


wrote …

Um. I think this could be a big issue for me and could explain my lower back pain after heavy lifting WODs. Looking forward to the next video.


wrote …

Timely video, I relaxed my torso a bit in the bottom of a squat during a 5x5 workout today and now have SI joint pain. I wonder if this is a problem for me. Can't wait to see the solution.


wrote …

What a cliff hanger. Great job Coach, can't wait to see the fix.


replied to comment from Daniel Kallen

If it's not included in the second part of the article, I'll post it.


wrote …

I'm one of those tall guys with a long torso and I couldn't do what was demoed on the video. Maybe this is why my squat sucks. The correction cannot come soon enough.


wrote …

Eagerly awaiting part deux. My father in law cannot do this - at all. Fascinating, very much want to know how to coach someone through this. Thanks Coach Rip, Paul


wrote …

Great video, I especially liked how Rip explained that rounding of the lumbar spine takes tension off of the hamstrings. Without tension in the hamstrings, the squat just isn't as powerful. But, one other thing that I think is worth mentioning is that rounding the lumbar spine during a squat or deadlift can have mare hazordous effects than just weakining your lift. It causes a huge amount of shear on your lumbar intervertebral discs, which can lead to a painful disc herniation and possibly surgery. Be careful!


wrote …

Really helpful. Very clear!


wrote …

I need to know the secret cue!!! Can't wait until I get a chance to go to a barbell cert.


wrote …

I think it's important to take note that Rip stressed initiating this pelvic tilt at the bottom of the squat and not at the top. There was anther very informative article by Kelly Starett about too much pelvic tilt at the top of the squat and how that can be a fault. He stressed the importance of using active hips to push the butt back instead of initiating the squat with a tilt. But I see how being aware of the lordotic curve at the bottom can help you maintain that curve under load. Very informative and helpful article. This video paired with the Starett video are great tools in helping to assess faults in the squat.


wrote …

Coach Rippetoe,

I am guilty as charged and have no control over my lumbar. After practicing all morning, I still can't spark a connection. Then, it came to me by accident. While sitting on the edge of a firm wooden chair (with the edge of the chair under the crease of my butt/thigh) I pushed my body forward and it rolled my hips in the way I had been unable to. Basically, my tailbone pivoted on the forward edge of the chair thus arching my lumbar. I am still working to be able to control the motion on my own but it gave me an idea of what it should feel like.

Does this seem like it is provoking the proper motion? Any thoughts?


wrote …

What if you have the opposite issue... that is one is prone to anterior pelvic tilt (excessive lordosis) and has to consciously remember to move the hips posteriorly (the anterior tilt unfortunately comes naturally and I'm working on correcting it.)

What does this mean in conjunction with squatting that I need to be most aware of if I'm prone to naturally have too much anterior pelvic tilt?

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