Rodney McBride

Can You Squat?

Can You Squat?

I'm always surprised how many folks at the gym don't squat. Men nearly avoid leg training altogether, so they rarely squat. Women are more inclined to train legs and squat but chose exercise regimens that are incomplete. When I do notice someone (guy/girl) squatting 95% of them never execute the squat correctly. Why is this?

An inadequate understanding of squat biomechanics would be the main reason; but you can't rule out other factors such as a lack of experience, flexibility issues, fear of injury, fear of pain, fear of reinjury, neuromuscular inefficiency, and/or fatigue. 
One of the biggest misconceptions is that the squat is biomechanically an up and down movement, when in reality the squat is a pushing out movement. I know this sounds inaccurate to say but let me explain. 

There are two types of squat techniques. A quad squatter and a hip/hamstring squatter. The quad squatter relies heavily on the quadriceps muscles to stand up and when you squat this way it looks like an up and down action. The hip/hamstring squatter relies more on the hips/hamstrings to stand up and when you squat this way it turns into a pushing out movement; giving the effect that you are standing straight up but in actuality you are not.

Pushing the knees out recruits the hips (glutes/hip external rotators) more forcefully, automatically giving you lift instead of having to force the upward phase of the squat to happen by using the quads exclusively. This is not only a more mechanically efficient version of the squat but also safer on the back and knees. 

Also, there is no difference in quadriceps recruitment in a close stance squat compared to a wide stance squat. But there is a difference in hip applicability. A close stance (quad squatter) doesn't use the hips very much; whereas a wide stance squat (hip/hamstring squatter) does. The world record in the squat is currently 1268lbs!!! Believe me that would not be possible without using the hips.

So when squatting don't push the knees forward, corkscrew (keep them flat) the feet into the ground, pull the hips down and back and push the knees out. You will have no choice but to engage the hips (continue to push the knees out) to ascend back up. And don't worry about the quadriceps they will activate automatically. Focus on the hips this is where the power comes from in squatting. 


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