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knees buckle when doing squats

Hi. Hope some of you can help out here. I am currently figuring out my 15,10,5 RM’s in preparation for HST. I find that as I do squats, when I go heavy (for my weight) my knees start to buckle, and the either cave in or jut out, but they don’t remain straight up and down on the concentric portion. I realize at some point, I can only lift so much weight, but I’d like to know if there is a way to prevent the knee problem, so I can squat more. any thoughts? Thanks.

I had the same problem for years, and only (partially) solved it by doing lots and lots of squats with my feet together. Like you’re skiing.

This should help some, but (in my case at least) the problem stems from anatomical considerations, so I don’t have much faith that it can ever really be overcome.

Maybe your abductor and adductors are weak. You might want to strengthen those first.

Strengthen your hips.

how does one strenghten their hips (abductors/aductors)???


One can strengthen the abductors and adductors through plate drags, adductor/abductor raises on a cable machine, shuffling, and wide stance/box squats. I would avoid the yes/no machine (seated adductor/abductor) simply for the dorkiness of it.

Adam Marshall

Kneeling squats, box squats w/ wide stance, ultra wide deadlifts, pull thrus, good mornings,

Ok. The best way to correct the problem you are having is to widen your stance a bit and try to “spread the floor apart” with your feet. In addition, purchase a miniband from jumpstretch or Dave Tate at elitefts.com and double it. Once you double it, put it around both your knees just under the kneecap and spread the miniband (open it) when you squat. The miniband forces you to push out with your feet and hips, and will in turn fix your problem.

Achilles, what a great solution! It’s like using tape to ensure you keep the arch in your back. Brilliant in its simplicity.

The thanks should go to Westside Barbell and Louie Simmons/Dave Tate, as it was there idea. I am just passing it along :slight_smile: Hope it helps!

Achilles: thank you VERY muchf for the great advice of how to deal with my knees buckling. I know you can’t guarantee this, but using your suggested methods, do you think I will be able to squat heavier with this? (So far, to be honest, I’m not impressed with the max poundage I can squat). Thanks again, and thanks to ALL for posting your thoughts.

Achilles: don’t know if you’ll get this message…but I re-read your reply to me regarding how to fix the knee buckling problem. You said to wrap a miniband around my knees, and then spread the miniband out…I assume the way to “spread” the miniband out, is to push the knees out laterally away from each other? Can you clarify what you mean when you say, this “forces you to push out with your feet.” thanks a lot for the clarification and AGAIN for your help. I apppreciate it.

Without seeing you squat, it is hard to give you ironclad advice. However, I will give you some general advice. Everyone squats different, but your stance should be wider than shoulder width. Now, in order to properly activate the glutes when you squat, you should simulate pulling the floor apart with your feet. A good way to practice this is inside of a power rack. Get your stance out wide and brace your feet against the bottom rails and push out against the support rails throughout the squat movement. As for the bands, yes, you want to take the miniband and double-loop it, placing it just below your knees. Now while squatting, you should be pulling the floor apart with your feet, while simultaneously flexing your glutes and keeping the band pulled apart. If/When the band begins to draw your knees in, that is your cue to press back out with your hips/glutes. In fact, it is actually a good idea if you just do the band exercise every day for 3 or so sets of 10 reps, statically holding the contraction. Increase the reps or sets every week, until it becomes automatic, but be sure to use them on the days that you are actually training the squat. Finally, yes-your squat poundages will increase because you will be properly activating those muscles that are needed to squat big. If you have any other questions or need more of an explanation, just let me know.

I thought that the Westside methods also precribed pointing your toes outward a bit along with a wide stance. It seems to me that this foot position might also help keep the knees from buckling.

If I’m wrong please tell me cause it means that I’ll have to re-think my squat position.

Some at Westside point their toes out, like Chuck Vogelpohl, and some do not, like Dave Tate. It is a preference thing, and really no right or wrong to it. If it works for you, go for it, but try both ways to really make sure.

One suggestion: as you go down, push out on your knees as if you were doing a skiing ‘snowplow’. This keeps your knees stable. Try this if you can’t get one of the bands.

One on of the westside squatting tapes they discuss foot positioning, they said if you have the flexibility to keep your foot straight rather than pointed out, it will give you a little more power out of the hole. RR

Follw the above advice and you should be good - it will likely take some time until it becomes routine for you. I used to have the same problem years ago and I solved it by doing more and more squats and leg presses and focusing on keeping the knees aligned with the feet. As mentioned above it can help to think of pushing the knees outward when getting the weight up.

I will look for the link, but I remember a while back in a Charles Poliquin column, he discussed the idea popularized by Chek about wrapping a lifting belt around the knee loosely, and keeping it from falling to the floor during the execution of the squat. Poliquin went into detail about how this was flawed logic and wouldn’t work to correct the problem at hand. This frustrated me because I had been using that method for years with clients that had medial knee tracking. But DAMN if I can’t remember what ol Chucky P was talking about. Anyone else remember this?

Ok found it, I’ll just paste the answer here:
A: The creator(s) and proponents of this technique really screwed up on this one. Their interpretation of the knee-buckling problem is that it’s caused by weak hip abductors. Then they make you fire your hip abductors while doing an exercise that primarily recruits the hip extensors, thus sending confusing messages to the brain.

Eventually, you’ll be forced to use a dinky load that doesn’t overload the hip extensor chain properly. You’ll develop a brand new faulty recruitment pattern, and you won’t fix the real causes of the problem.

I find this technical approach rather idiotic, at best. It doesn’t address the real potential sources of the problem, like having a weak vastus medialis and/or adhesions between the adductor magnus and the medial hamstrings. These sort of symptoms are very common in hockey players and figure skaters because of over-recruitment of the vastus lateralis and the overuse of the hip adductor and hip extensors chains.