Find Your Squat Stance!

I had mentioned in a previous article that, in order to squat safely, with proper depth, and in a way that’s relative to your frame, that you might need to find the right stance for you. Therefore, I decided to delve into this topic a little more, partially because I neglected something important in my last brief demonstration. More on that momentarily.

The following drill, which I origianlly used in 2018, will help you to find that sweet spot. You never want your legs to be too close together or too wide when you squat. Having your legs too close together could mean they make contact with your stomach, which could mean you won’t hit parallel. Squat with your legs too wide and you’ll see why some Westside Barbell squatters are often scrutinized, as your adductors can potentially reach the end of their extensibility before you even hit parallel.

This is the second time I’ve called out Westside Barbell. But with all due respect to Louie and the gang, don’t squat like this. Seriously.

Before you try this out it might behoove you to foam roll your adductors in order to loosen them up, if you have one available.

Always remember to keep your spine as flat as you can and your head in line with your spine.
  • Start off by standing straight, your heels shoulder width apart and your toes out about 30 degrees.
  • After taking note of where your heels are positioned in relation to your shoulders, squat down as low as you can. Keep in mind that toe positioning can have a direct effect on just how low you can get. So if you needed, you might have to point your toes out more than 30 degrees.
  • Place your elbows against your knees, and your palms together. Begin to shove your knees as outward as you can. If your adductors are not flexible enough then this will ultimately function as a stretch. If needed stay in the bottom position for a few seconds. If you’re fatigued by this, stand up, rest a few seconds and then resume stretching your adductors using the elbows. Fatigue might be a sign of limited flexibility.
  • Here’s the part I grossly neglected. Once your bottom positioned has been established, your back must be as flat as can be. It should ideally be at a 45 degree angle. Do not try to move into a vertical position with your back at any time.
  • Once all the pieces are established, ascend by driving your butt straight in the air. Do not ascend forward. This is what will keep the weight distributed throughout your whole foot and not shift it to your toes. Since establishing Hip Drive is the goal, the hips should be your driver, not the knees.

It’s important to remember that the Squat is not a Leg Press, it’s a Squat. Therefore, the hips have to take control at first, especially if strength and/or power is your goal. Hip Extension and a flat, horizontal back must come before any other pattern is initiated. Eye gaze is also important. Make sure your head is in line with your spine. I was taught a few years back that if you look up too much, you will not only compromise your set bottom position, but it will also alter the trajectory of your ascension. The only time I ever raise my head up in the squat is when I’m retracting my scapula, setting myself up underneath the bar, before I even unrack the bar. A good way to develop this motor pattern is by performing Supinated Pull Aparts. But once you have all of this establish, you may experiment with focusing your gaze in a slightly higher position.

My References:

Rippetoe, Mark. Starting Strength. Wichita Fall, TX. The Aasgard Company. 2005

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