T Nation

Glute Activation During Squats

I continually hear different things regarding glute activation.

Which is better for activating the glutes? A narrow stance squat that is ATG, Or a wide, deep power lifting squat that recruits the whole posterior chain?

I hear people raging on wide stances for the ROM being smaller, but even though you’re shaving a couple inches off the squat, wouldn’t it be better wide stance considering being able to use the glutes and the hammies Vs mainly quads in a narrow stance?

Thanks for the article! Can say I feel totally lazy as I haven’t checked out the TNATIONS articles yet. But regardless, I want opinions of people, as im trying to get different opinions from different people.

So anyone else have an opinion?

Has anyone tried wide stance and recently switched to narrow? Or vice versa? Why did you switch and what did you experience ? (As far as muscle activation, growth, etc.?)

Generally, a wider stance will utilize more hamstrings/glutes as it allows you to sit back and stretch the hamstrings. A narrow stance will use more of the quads.

It’s actually the angle of the torso to the ground that is going to most strongly determine how hard the glutes are working during squats than the width of the feet (though, obviously you aren’t going to be doing a very hip dominant squat with a very narrow stance or very wide stance).

Whenever looking at resistance training exercises you must take leverage and ROM into account. Since the glutes extend, hyperextended, abduct, horizontally abduct, and externally rotate the hip, you have to look at how much each of these actions is occurring during any given squatting exercise, and at the leverages experienced in any of them as well.

So, for instance in a front squat even though if you go ATG you will technically get maximal hip flexion and hip extension, and you may be isometrically horizontally abducting to maintain hip/knee stability (activating the glutes in the process), because your torso stays very upright during the motion the leverages (and therefore forces experienced) by the glutes are somewhat minimized.

A low bar back squat where you hinge primarily at the hips (and thus your degree of torso forwards lean is much greater than in the front squat), or a Zercher squat (where the resistance is always in front of the center of gravity and therefore the lever arm is again relatively long) on the other hand will require much more force to be overcome/produced by the hip extensors.

Going very wide does maximize the degree of horizontal hip abduction, but also makes hinging forwards/hip flexion from the hips challenging unless you have great hip mobility. But it does recruit more glutes than a narrow stance very upright squat.

Sentoguy! I completely understand! Thank you so much! I’ve tried low bar, and i have pretty good hip flexibility, and Ive noticed i have to lean forward the deeper i go in order to keep the bar above my feet, and yeah i did notice my glutes working more. For me though, it seems as the weight gets heavier, when I’m in low bar i feel like the bar is just going to slip out of my hands and drop into the safety catches.

Low bar definitively feels easier, but lately Ive gotten used to like a mid bar placement. Ill try to lower the bar so ill lean more forward and get more of a horizontal angle.

Thank you for explaining it, I appreciate people posting tnation articles but i really wanted some different opinions and explanations, and you totally came through. Thanks again.

No problem. Keep in mind though that if you are primarily interested in working your glutes (regardless of exercise), then squats aren’t necessarily the best way to do it. If you want to do squats and want to hit the glutes as much as possible while you do it, then low bar hip dominant squats or Zerchers are your best bets, followed by wide stance sumo squats.

Glad I could help.

Thanks, and no glutes aren’t the only muscle im looking to train. I just don’t really feel my glutes activating in my squat, and was wondering what other way i could make that happen. But thanks :slight_smile: Now Im gonna have to look up what the heck a zercher squat is. haha