Chest Tightness on Squats

I had my first strength training session in almost three weeks. A wonderful trip through Arizona kept me out of the gym for one of the weeks. Planning for more travel has preoccupied me the rest of the time. So this past Friday was a long-awaited return to the barbell. I was rusty, to say the least.

First and foremost, I should have tuned in to my warmup sets. Something was not quite right as I did my empty barbell squats. I was distracted and didn’t make the effort to nail it down.

When I watched my sets at home, I realized that my upper torso was tight from the start. I could see it in my warm up sets. My chest was tight and pulled the bar forward. That caused my torso to arch in an effort to keep the weight balanced.

The problem pervaded through the rest of my squats. The whole time during the session, I just didn’t feel like I was fully functional. Nothing hurt, nothing really stood out, but my motions didn’t seem fluid. The tricky thing was that my hips felt great.

I had started with hip mobility stretches, really getting loose and warm. Body weight squats felt smooth. But once I had the bar on my back, things got funky. I should have been aware of this and investigated. I would have realized that I left out upper body mobility. This matters as much as the lower body in squats.

My abdomen, thoracic spine, pecs, and shoulders were tight from constant sitting in the car and at home. Even my biceps were shortened. The pulling inward and downward of all these muscles made it awkward for me to hold up the bar.

Shoulder dislocations are magical for this area. This is an exercise, not a mutilation, don’t worry. I would suggest doing it slower than Mehdi Hadim does in this video, though. Start wide with the hands.

Squats involve mobility of the lower body and upper body. I failed to diagnose my limited mobility this time around, and paid for it in overall functionality. Next time I’ll be wiser.

Live powerfully,


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