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Quad Activation in Squat Stances


If you widen your stance, are you working your inner thighs more? Vice versa?

I noticed yesterday doing narrow front squats that my outer quads got more work. I used to think widening my stance was safer/more stable, but I think that's what led to my quad tendinitis...too much stress on my inner thighs and not enough work on the outer.

If I want to work on my hip abductors/outer thighs, bring the legs in? What do the various squat variants target in terms of quad muscles?


Yes, you will shift emphasis depending on your stance. Same goes for the leg press. Narrow stance tends to hit outer quad sweep a bit better.


I prefer to go narrow. I think a good quad sweep is one of the most impressive things in BBing. Narrow stance all the way!


There is a book called "Target Bodybuilding" by Per A Tesch which explains a lot of this stuff really well. Using MRI technology, he explains the extent to which each part of a muscle is used during different variations of the lift.

It's a really nice little book with some science to back up with a lot of people just noticed from observation. Worth a read, if not a buy.

But for the purposes of answering your question, narrow stance for more activation of the vastus lateralis.



Sometimes for fun I go wide.


I think I read in one of Dan John's articles that a good way to find a comfortable squat stance is to jump up and down three times as fast as you can, and wherever you land on that third jump should be your stance.

I've tried it a bunch of times, and they're great. I do squat wide stanced most, though.


I will be trying this as soon as my roomate leaves lol.


I always go wide stanced. Puts less stress on your knees and helps to keep the weight off the front of your feet, also saving your knees and allowing you to squat more.

If you're concerned about working a certain muscle area, use skinny stance for leg press or machine work where you don't have to control your balance on your feet and can keep pressure on you're heals.


But more stress on the hips...


huh, that was my intuition to help my knees, but now my knee is hurt (quad tendinitis), and i'm pretty sure its from weak Vastus Lateralis muscles, so yeah, maybe narrow is the way to go...


That's a great book! I've had it for years.


As most have said, most agree that a narrower stance hits the Vastus Lateralis better, as well as going deeper (which some find easier to do with front squats). If you go much wider stance, point the toes out more, you shift more emphasis to the Medialis and adductors (and the medialis is more involved in the lockout portion - like a Sumo Deadlift).


To be honest I don't worry about foot placement on squats but just go with what feels good and natural.

If I'm worrying about foot placement to target a certain part of the quad I'd do it on the leg press or hack squat, etc.

I think the squat movement should be used to move some serious weight...and most of the time when you switch your feet up you can't move as much weight.

my .02



squat normal for you. even experienced, well developed lifters, perhaps even the best 1% here, need to worry about specific targeting.


please forgive my hijack, but for me I find a wide stance more comfortable to get lower, but I would rather work more of the outer quad.

Is this just something to do and get used to, or is there a better trick and the anything to do with the hipset of women?


My feet landed exactly at shoulder width.


I find if I push with the balls of my feet, I feel more VM. But If I push with my heals, I get more VL.

The stance doesn't seem to effect me as much. But I'm stronger when my stance is closer.