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Do Your Knees Cave in When You Squat? How to fix it



Here's a little bit of an older video I made on how to correct some dysfunction in the squat. If the knees cave in when we squat we're putting the knees at risk. Overall strengthening is necessary but there are some specific areas we should pay attention to in order to get the best results.

-Justin Kompf

Competition to Make Weight Training Fun


Today (Sunday) is my mom’s birthday. I went out to the store to get some food to make her breakfast. I made her an omelet with spinach, black beans, broccoli, and mozzarella cheese with sliced avocado on the side and a black bean salsa topping and a nice cup of Tim Hortons Coffee. Try that, it’s awesome. As I got out of the car to go to the store I ached with soreness. If body parts could talk my legs would be cursing me out.

“Justin, you are an idiot!” they would be saying. I’d of course be replying with:

“Shut up legs you know what I did was good for you!” But I digress and I’ll stop talking about my imaginary conversations with my body parts before I begin to lose all sense of credibility.

It was Friday and I had just got to Syracuse to supervise the weight room for a couple hours. It was relatively dead, a couple lacrosse girls here and there but that’s about it. My friend, Jason, who works with some of the other teams at Syracuse was working out but at the current moment was taking a break in the office before doing a burn out set of back squats. He had been putting 135 on the bar then doing 30 reps and wanted me to stand behind him just in case (he didn’t really need it). We went over to the bar. He shuffled through the ipod I let him use to find the right song for 30 reps then for some reason he didn't tell me he walked away from the bar to go over to the platforms. After three minutes of waiting for him to do whatever he was doing I got bored. Even though my hamstrings as sore as can be after deadlifting on Wednesday along with seven sets of glute ham raises I decided to get under the bar and squat.

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By the time I had gotten to 30 reps he came back over.

“What are you on?”

“ 30 I answered,” I kept going, proceeding to do 22 more reps. By then I had clearly raised the bar up from the 30 reps that Jason was planning on doing so in order to avoid me making fun of him and calling him names he knocked out 42 reps.

Well that was fun, how about we add 50 more pounds I suggested. Spontaneous competition is one of the most fun things that you can do to spice up your lifts and get you excited about lifting. About three months back my buddy Russell and I were going to do a squat day which turned into a spontaneous powerlifting meet which was inspired by watching strength coach Eric Cressey put up a video of his impromptu powerlifting meet. What started out as a squat day turned into max efforts on squats, deadlifts, and bench press. We fueled ourselves with sample packets of C4 preworkout and of course poptarts. Bottom line is it was spontaneous and it was fun and the encouragement we gave each other certainly helped.

So here we are back at the Syracuse University weight room with 185 on the bar. Not a heavy weight, a little above half of my max on a good day but when you start squatting for reps it’s like sprinting with a weighted vest on. I got myself under the bar, took a deep breath in and lifted the weight out of the rack. One of our buddies, a former sprinter at Syracuse, Shamel, came over to add his version of encouragement:

“No way are you getting 20 reps,” he said, “no way.” Well now that you say it of course I’m going to get 20 reps.

It was definitely a tiring set and once I got to 20 reps I looked over at him and added one more rep before I racked it. Jason got under the rack and put out 15 reps before he put it back. Then just to put the icing on the cake I did 225 for 10 reps.

Good day

Competition can improve our lifts simply by getting us excited. I love it when unplanned competitions in the weight room suddenly happen. You can do this with anything. Squatting for reps, pushups, and pull ups. You name it I’ve done it and enjoyed it. Go out there and get competitive and have fun even if it means your legs will hate you for the next couple days.

-Justin Kompf


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Justin has been a personal trainer since 2009. He is a certified personal trainer and certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He teaches a personal training class at the State University of New York at Cortland and assist with the majority of the women's teams at Syracuse University. In his free time he likes to write, play basketball and lift heavy things off the ground. You can like his facebook page here

Lifting For Tall People


I just read an article by strength coach Lee Boyce talking about lifts for taller individuals. He went into further detail to talk about individuals with shorter torsos but longer limbs. While these people may not be tall they can experience some of the same problems tall lifters experience. This hit home and confirmed something I already knew. While I am not that tall, a little over 5’10” I have almost a 6’ 4” wing span. I have long legs, long arms and a shorter torso. If you fall under this category or are just tall in general pay close attention. I am going to give you some tips and some exercises that you can do to get stronger and bigger because let’s be honest if a seven foot tall guy like Dwight Howard can get stacked then you can too.

The back squat is a movement pattern that plagues tall people and long limbed people. Tall people tend to get a major forward lean when squatting which just turns the squat into a good morning. How we’re put together mechanically is our limiting factor in the squat, not the legs. If you’re a tall person relying on the back squat alone to get bigger and stronger legs than you’re wasting your time. I’d like to go over four options you can do if you’re tall or just long limbed.

Option 1: Change where the bar is.

Let’s move the bar from the back of the body to the front to perform a front squat. In order to get into the proper position for a front squat you will elevate your shoulders up so that your arms are parallel with the ground. This should create a nice shoulder shelf for the bar to sit on. Hold onto the bar with two finger tips. You should be able to completely take your hands off the bar and still have the bar rest on your shoulders though. You won’t be able to lift nearly as much with the front squat when compared to the back squat but it helps teach you how to stay as upright as possible. If you start leaning forward too much then you will lose the bar. If you have shoulder issues where the front squat actually hurts when the bar is pressed against the shoulders you can use a safety bar which has a pad attached to it with handles on the front so the bar actually sits on your back but your hands are out front.

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Option 2: make your body more biomechanically correct.

No I don’t mean shorten your legs and increase your torso size that just sounds like torture. Get yourself a pair of Olympic shoes. These give your heels a slight lift which fixes some of the problems that people with long legs have when squatting. You can try this yourself do a body weight squat and try to stay as upright as possible. Next elevate your heels on a weight plate or a two by four. Squat again, you’ll find you can stay a lot more upright. The heel lift shifts the emphasis to the quads and helps with the forward lean and has done wonders for my back squat. Along with practicing good form my squat has gone up dramatically in the last six months.

Option number 3: change where your hands are or change the bar position

This is pretty straight forward, move your hands in close to your body instead of to the end of the bar. This helps you stay a little more upright. You can also get a lower bar position, placing the bar a little lower on your back rather than all the way on top of the traps.

Option number 4: Throw out the squat completely.

Switch over to things like lunges and rear leg elevated squats. Your back is not going to be the limiting factor when you do rear leg elevated squats. My back squat is about 375 but the most I’ve done on rear leg elevated squats is 240 for 3. I think these lifts are much more appropriate for tall lifters than the back squat. You’ll still be able to get a ton of back and erector muscle work from your deadlifts which shouldn’t be as much as a problem for tall people. Just make sure you have a relatively higher hip position when you deadlift. Don’t turn it into a squat and keep the emphasis on the hamstrings and glutes.

So initially I wanted to get into more lifts but it kind of turned into a way to make the squat more appropriate for tall people. This is something I feel I can really speak on because I’ve experienced it. Once again here are our four ways to get bigger and stronger legs if you happen to be tall. Option one, switch to a front squat; option 2, get Olympic shoes or elevate your heels; option 3, change bar position and hand position; and option 4 throw out the back squat completely and start doing more lunges and rear leg elevated squats. So while your shorter friends might be putting up over 400 pounds on the back squat just remember you can still dunk and block them in a game of basketball.

-Justin Kompf

Things You Used to be Able to do


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"Is it true if you don't use it you lose it?"



Throughout life we lose the ability to do plenty of things, you’re not the high school superstar who played football, basketball, and baseball anymore. Odds are if you were to play competitively again you’d either get hurt or be a shell of your former self. True, as you get older your athletic ability will probably decrease. Work, school, kids, and family will take priority but there are two abilities that you should never lose and that is the ability to sprint and the ability to squat.

I had been neglecting sprints throughout the last couple of weeks so tonight I decided to go out and do some sprint intervals around my neighborhood, 50-70 yards sprints (or to wherever the next tree or mailbox was) with one minute rest intervals. Let me tell you it felt great to get back to it. It’s even better when you get to race and beat a car from a stop sign. In the driver’s defense he may have not known we were racing.

As I was running I got to thinking; how many sprinters do I ever see out around my neighborhood?  I think one in the last year. I do see lots of people jogging/ hobbling along in pain looking like they hate life though. Sprinting is one of the skills we have lost the ability to do over the years. We have replaced sprinting with long distance running with less than optimal results. Long distance running succeeds only in making you slower at everything else. Yes the fact that you can run 26 miles is impressive, honestly to me if you can run five miles that’s impressive. However I’d be more impressed if that person can come remotely close to me in a sprinting contest. Nothing beats the feeling of going fast, it’s power, and power feels good. If you can sprint you’ll always be able to jog, that doesn’t necessarily go the other way around though. So why can I sprint while you can’t? The answer is simple, I never stopped sprinting.

The same thing goes for squatting. Squatting is one of the early movements we learn as infants. How else did we learn to stand up? Watch a baby sit down into a squat and see how deep they go. Can you do that anymore? Odds are you can’t, and why can’t you? It’s because you stopped squatting. If you lose the ability to squat and move throughout the hips it can lead to frozen up hips and low back pain and the overall lack of the ability to move.

Thorough the years we really slow down, we move a little less and eat a little more and before you know it the only squat you do is when you plump yourself down onto the couch and where your sprint is nothing more than a quick walk or jog. The saying an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is really applicable here. A lot of people come to me or my colleagues who need to or want to regain these abilities when it’s something they never should have lost the ability to do. It’s not that hard to sprint and squat a couple times a week and it will ensure you will put off movement loss for a long time.

*Up for a challenge? Does it make me a weird person if I get excited when I read about things like this? Perhaps- here’s your challenge if you’re up for it. I got it from Strength and Conditioning Coach Martin Rooney- sprint intervals with a circuit in between.

*25 seconds sprint (slight incline in between 11-12-around a 5 minute mile)

* 20 straight leg sit ups

* 8 Pull ups

-repeat 3 times

*25 second sprints

*stir the pot- 15 in each direction

* 15 pushups

-repeat 3 times

* 25 second sprint

*pallof press-30 seconds per side in half kneeling

* Body weight rows x 10

-repeat 3 times

Keeping exercise programming easy


Exercise selection can seem like a daunting task. Am I picking the right exercises? Will I see any benefit from what I am doing? What equipment should I use?  With all of these questions you usually end up spinning your wheels and shying away from the gym or if you do go you’ll hop on the treadmill or elliptical instead. I’m going to simplify weight training selection for you. This advice holds true for you whether you’re an advanced lifter or a beginner weight lifter. Instead of examining all of the possible exercises you can do look at the fundamental movements that us humans do. The fundamental movements that humans do will vary on who you ask but for all intents and purposes here they are:

  1. Squat (hip flexion)
  2. Hinge(hip extension)
  3. Lunge
  4. Vertical press
  5. Horizontal press
  6. Vertical pull
  7. Horizontal pull
  8. Carry
  9. Drag/push
  10. Core
  11. Get up
  12. Isolation- not necessarily a movement pattern but something you can add to the end of your lifts.

I’ll go into exercises that fit under these movement categories for the corresponding numbers.

1. Goblet squat, back squat, front squat, box squat

Unilateral squat variations- rear leg elevated squat with different loading protocols

2. Conventional deadlift, trap bar deadlift, sumo deadlift, Romanian deadlift, dumbbell deadlift, snatch grip deadlift, speed deadlift, rack pulls

3. Lunge, step up, reverse lunge

4. Overhead press, dumbbell overhead press, dumbbell unilateral over head press, push press, push jerk, split jerk

5. Bench press, close grip bench press, dumbbell press, pushup, dips

6. Pullup, chin up, lat pull down

7. Bent over row, dumbbell row, cable row, face pull

8. Loaded carry, waiters walk, waiters walk suitcase carry

9. Sled push, sled pull

10. Plank, plank plate shuffle, plank row, fall out, stir the pot, rollout (ball, wheel, barbell), pallof press

11. Straight arm sit up, Turkish get up

12. Leg extensions, leg curls, calf raises, natural glute ham raise, lateral raises, forward raises, dumbbell flys, trx flys, hammer curl, preacher curls, skull crushers


Now you can split your lifts up into several different ways depending on your training level. Here’s a general temple.

Beginner: whole body (all movements)

Day 1


Sets x reps





Vertical press


Vertical pull




Get up





3x10 or 30 seconds


Day 2


Sets/ reps



Horizontal press


Horizontal pull









20 yards


20 yards


20 yards


Intermediate: movement separation

Day 1 : squat



Squat- Back squat




Step up


Loaded carry


Turkish get up

20 yards x3



Isolation-leg extensions



 stir the pot

plank plate shuffle



3x 30 seconds

3x30 seconds


Day 2: press and pull



Horizontal press- bench press


Horizontal pull- cable row


Vertical pull-chin ups

Vertical push- overhead press

3x as many as possible



Dumbbell rows

4 x as many as possible


Dumbbell flys

Face pulls



Hammer curls

Skull crushers




Day 3: hinge



Hinge- deadlift


Unilateral squat- Rear leg elevated squat


Natural glute ham raise






Waiters walk suitcase carry

20 yards


20 yards


Isolation and core

Hamstring curls


Fall outs







3x 30 seconds




Intermediates can have movement separation days to give other body parts a rest because they are lifting heavier and the body needs more time to rest. This basic program was split into lower body squat movements, then upper body push and pulls movements and lastly lower body hinge movements.


Here are some videoes of lower body squat variations for you.



-Justin Kompf

don't forget to like my youtube channel for more how to videos.

Rapid Fitness Never Plateau Again: Part 4


Hello Rapid Fitness members, I'm back again with some more tips on how to continue to improve in the gym. If you’ve ever gotten frustrated due to stagnation in the gym then this next installment is for you. I’ve already gone over six reasons why people aren’t improving their lifts. Check out parts 1,2, and 3 to figure out if any of these mistakes apply to you. I’m going to venture to say that these next two reasons can help you make the most rapid and radical strength gains that you’ve ever seen.

 Reason number 7: you’re not squatting or deadlifting. As for building whole body strength these two lifts rein king. If you want to develop a back that would make Tom Hardy wish he had you as a trainer for batman you have to deadlift.

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 When we squat and deadlift we are recruiting a large amount of muscle and in turn increasing testosterone levels. The best part about squats and deadlifts is that they have the potential to increase the weight we lift in all other lifts. Whenever someone comes to me asking how they can get bigger arms I half way sarcastically tell them to deadlift. Rule of thumb guys, if you want to add an inch to your arms you have to add about ten pounds of muscle to your body. Curls alone won’t do it you need big lifts. Deadlifts and squats are two lifts that allow the body to put on the most muscle. Just a side note because I’m sure I may have turned off some female readers to the idea of deadlfiting and squatting by throwing around words like testosterone, deadlift, and Tom Hardy’s back (or turned on who knows). I’ve trained women ranging from the general population to division one athlete’s and they all experience the same weight room fear- getting too bulky. I assure you that you will not turn into a she hulk if you squat or deadlift. Women don’t have anywhere near the testosterone levels that men do so unless you plan on using some pharmaceutical aid I wouldn’t worry about becoming bulky. If anything you’ll get a nice tone look and feel better about yourself.

Reason number 8: you’re not switching lifts. I split my training up into four week blocks. Let’s say that my goal for a current four week block is to increase my strength.  One day I’ll be squatting, the next benching, then deadlifting, then overhead pressing on my final day. Let’s take a closer look at my squatting day. For four weeks I can do a back squat at the end of those four weeks I switch over to a front squat and do that for four weeks. What I am doing here is training the same movement but the loads for that movement relative to my one rep max are different. Let me elaborate, my back squat max is 350 and my front squat max is 280. Assuming that I train for strength I will be working at around 90 percent of my max doing something like five sets of three. For my back squat block I’d be working with 315 pounds and for my front squat block I’d be working with 250 pounds. I get to train the same movement but by switching lifts I’m actually able to lift heavier for a lot longer. This is what the guys at Westside Barbell do and they’re some of the strongest people in the world. Here’s a few example of how you can rotate lifts:

Day 1 block one- back squat/ block 2- front squat/ block 3- box squat

Day 2 block one- bench press/ block 2-dumbbell bench press/ block 3- top half bench press

Day 3 block one- conventional deadlift/ block 2- trap bar deadlift/ block 3- sumo deadlift

Day 4 block 1- barbell overhead press/ block 2- dumbbell overhead press/ block 3- push press


-Justin Kompf!/JustinKompfPersonalTrainerStrengthCoach?fref=ts

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