Learn How To Squat: The Perfect Squat Stance

Before attempting any squatting you have to discover the right stance for your body. Most people will find out that the perfect squat stance is about shoulder width or a little wider, with your toes pointing slightly out.

To find out what’s the perfect squat stance for you, experiment and evaluate the results. In the section below we are going to go over the common problems that occur, if you have imperfect squat stance.

1.Too Narrow Stance


Franco Columbo  via: http://www.nyx.net/

Franco Columbo squatting with a TOO narrow stance
via: http://www.nyx.net/

There are a lot of strong squatters among Olympic weightlifters who squat with very narrow stance. A narrow stance would be considered less than shoulder width. The most common problem people experience with too narrow stance is that they squat too high. The reason for that phenomenon is super simple – when the stance is narrow and your knees are too close to each other, there’s no place for your ‘gut’ at the bottom of your squat.

That problem could be fixed by sort of pushing your knees out and opening space for your midsection/gut. This technique works, but there is a very high chance that your knees will go too far out and won’t be in line with your toes. This is a big issue that puts your knees at risk. That’s why too narrow stances are recommended only to lean people who know what they are doing. You are going to feel right squatting with a narrow stance, if you are a beginner with higher body fat.

Additional side of the too narrow squat stance is that it places more stress on the quadriceps while significantly reducing the involvement of the inner tights. Of course, since the squat is a compound exercise, the groin muscles still have to work hard but not that much. That’s why people with injured groin muscles are advised to squat with a narrow stance in order to reduce the stress on that area.

Note: Many people have harder time squatting deep (below parallel) with a narrow stance. It takes more flexibility and mobility.

2.Too Wide Stance

Matt Kroc Squatting image credit: www.mattkroc.com

Matt Kroc Squatting
image credit: www.mattkroc.com

The polar opposite of the too narrow stance is the two wide stance. A too wide stance would be considered a stance that resembles a sumo squat – the feet are apart by much more than shoulder width. The problem with that stance is that it places too much stress on your inner tights a.k.a adductors and may cause tears in the groin area. It can also cause knee pain since keeping your knees in line with your toes becomes significantly harder as well – especially if you have weak adductors.

This stance is often used by overweight individuals since it gives them more mobility and allows them to squat deeper.

The Perfect Squat Stance

Legendary Olympic Weightlifter Anatoly Pisarenko via:crossfitgloverpark.com

Legendary Olympic Weightlifter Anatoly Pisarenko
via: crossfitgloverpark.com

The perfect squat stance is somewhere in the middle. In 90% of the cases it’s about should width or slightly wider. Obviously, if you are a taller guy with wide shoulders and hips, you will have a wider stance than someone who is shorter and narrower.

When you are first starting out perform a couple of sets with different widths. Choose the one that feels the most comfortable. Keep in mind that your squat stance will change over the years. Nothing stays the same. There are many people who start with wider squat stance only to find out after a few years that they prefer narrower stance. That’s not an actual problem but rather a part of the learning curve.

Finding the perfect squat stance for you is a simple process but don’t neglect it since it’s the base to correct squatting and has a direct impact on how the rest of the movement unfolds.

One comment

  1. cliff graves

    In a narrow stance granted the problems you mention will occur. The knees travel forwards during the descent in this particular plane. To solve all the problems you rightfully advise on if an exerciser were to turn the feet externally almost into a “duck foot stance” voila all problems of gut getting in the way etc. go away. It is a brutally, robust method to engage more of the quadriceps as opposed to hip musculature and puzzled why there is not more about this available on the internet

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