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Knee Pain with Barbell Squats

Hey whats up everyone! I have a knee injury related to squatting, hoping someone can help.

My right knee hurts to squat. A lot!! The weird thing is it only hurts when i try to squat with perfect form. When I just do a bodyweight squat with arms in front of me and not worry about how flat ( neutral ) my spine is, the squat is pain free on my knee. But When I squat with my shoulders retracted holding a bar, and try to keep a neutral spine to prevent butt wink, then it puts crazy strain on my knee. Basically when I try to emphasize keeping my back straight, the hamstrings stretch in the hole of the squat and causes a lot of pain under the knee cap…mostly on the outer side…

Seems strange to me. Shitty form with rounded back = No pain, …good form neutral back = crazy pulling pain on knee cap.

Supposed to have a meet coming up in june and don’t want to compete bench only… Any help greatly appreciated.

Might help to put up a video of this

Sounds like during your “shitty” squats, you’re allowing other muscles to compensate for the weakness in your knee, so the pain subsides. But Chicken is correct - we need to know if you’re squatting too low/too high, if your knees are buckling inwards, if your toes are pointed out too far or too little, if you’re not sitting back enough, etc. Post a video. But make your top concern the health of your knee, not a maximal squat effort two months from now.

@flappinit not sure how to post a video? Guessing it has to be a link?

I think it has to be on social media or YouTube - come to think of it, I’ve never posted a video. @Frank_C @losthog how do you post yours?

I have a YouTube channel that all I use it for is to post and upload my videos to. It’s super easy. Get a YouTube log in. Open the Chanel upload the video. Done.

Click the share like copy the link paste it here and presto chango like magic its done


Also let me say that even if someone who happens to be a doctor (I am not a doctor) replies, it does not mean they’re correct. No doctor can accurately diagnose someone in your situation without physically examining them. Whatever you hear on this site - and it may well be educated and insightful - it cannot compare with a visit to a specialist, so if the pain is as severe as you say, I hope you will seek help outside of the internet.

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Here is the link. Form is the same at the gym with weight. Have seen a doctor and waiting for appointment to see specialist.


My guess is that it’s actually something in your hips. If rounding your back is pain free then that tells me that the pain occurs when the hamstrings, abductors, and adductors are lengthened (during a normal squat).

Hop on a foam roller or lacrosse ball and roll out all the muscles around your pelvis. I’d bet that you’ll find some spots that make you scream obscenities. That might lead you to the source of the problem.

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Thanks man !!!

Looks like he is butt winking. No anterior activation


What do you mean by " no anterior activation" ??

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Brother I know just enough to be dangerous to us both :joy::joy::joy:

I wish I could be of more help. I do. But I am not qualified to address this.

I’ll share what I know though…
But a few questions…

How long have you been lifting?

How long have you been using this form?

How long have you been using a corrective form?

What kind of weight are you squatting?

When did the knee pain start? Recently or older injury

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Here is a good place to start…

Hahaha I appreciate the help im sure you won’t F%=k up my knee any worse than it already is lol

Been lifting 6 years but several breaks in between because of travelling for work where there is no weights

Been using this form for past 3 years. When I started lifting it was only upper body. Have been squatting about 3 years

Havent really tried any other form except a high bar squat and dropping straight down instead of sitting back but still hurts the same

Right now I’m squatting high 200’s and mod 300’s depending on the training day. At last meet 413. Squat has always been my weak link. It always injures my back or knee every time I go heavy. Can deadlift all day with no issues.

Knee pain started about a year ago while training for a meet.


The ‘butt wink’ he mentioned is when your pelvis tilts under in the bottom of the lift. That’s an indicator that your hamstrings are tight (and possibly other posterior muscles).

I don’t like butt wink and think it’s risky and can lead to a back injury. The lumbar spine appears to be moving when that happens and that’s never good under load.

Do you have the same issue under load? Oddly enough, I think I’ve seen it go away under load on some people.

Tell me more about the knee pain. Under the patella? Is it deep in the knee or more surface…Front of knee, back, inside outside? Is it sharp like a stab, pulling pain, comes and goes, only during lifting…etc. A ton of stuff is going on with the knee attachments, cross joint connective tissue, joint cartilages, etc.

The butt wink is the same with or without load.

The knee pain feels like its directly underneath the patella…more so on the lateral side and bottom side…not up by the quad…and feels like a pulling pain…

I think you guys are right. No anterior activation. Newfie, your abs, quads and front hip muscles have fallen behind your back muscles. So your squat uses more back, and less “front.” After years of this, your squat is wonky and your quads are weak.

Instead of using muscle to drive your squat, you’re bouncing off your quad tendons at the bottom. That butt wink at is your body tilting your pelvis to stretch your quads even more, to get more bounce out of the hole. That is causing the pulling sensation on your knee. The excessive bounce and stretch is pulling on your connective tissue.

Your brace is off, and you’re arching your low back excessively. So your hip flexors are probably tight too.

Here’s a great video about bracing, keeping your back in the right position, and not butt winking.

If you’ve been pulling and bouncing and beating up your tendons and connective tissue, you’ve probably got some tendonitis somewhere. This is long, but somewhere in there Stan talks about rehabbing his quad tendonitis.


Thanks guys apprecuate the help !! Great info