T Nation

Squat: How Wide is Too Wide?


#1

Hello. I have always favored very wide stance hip dominant BB squats.

They have been my pride point for a long time now, hitting 500 on a good day at a body weight of 160. I also have been training near max 2x per week for years.

However when I say wide, I mean really wide, my toes are under the floor rails of the power rack, and this particular power rack is actually wider than most. I'm also rather small, with a longer torso and shorter legs with a 28 inch waist. Torso stays relatively upright through most of the movement, but even with driving my knees out very far, my stance is so wide that my tibia's never become perpindicular to floor, they are slanted in toward my midline around 15 degrees from vertical at parallel.

Now if been doing these this way for years, only experienced 'problems' for the last several months, which isn't bad in and of itself because it necessitated my learning of soft tissue work around hips hams and IT. I regularly get some lower patellar knee pain (IT work knocks it out) and some hip flexor pain as well, some tronchanteric bursitis and mashed hips if I miss and dont drive my femur far out of the way. Never severe pain, Icing PWO takes care of it for the most part.

I suppose my question is this, I'm currently 26 yrs old, and I worry that I may be grinding my hips to death too soon, although Im certain this type of maintenance is routine. I do have a small waist and I have read that non geared wide stance squats can be rough on the hips, and I'd hate to cut my lifting career short.


#2

"Torso stays relatively upright through most of the movement, but even with driving my knees out very far, my stance is so wide that my tibia's never become perpindicular to floor, they are slanted in toward my midline around 15 degrees from vertical at parallel. "

I tend to think this is the problem and what I assumed anyway from someone who isn't tall and has short legs, tho not sure what that means exactly in your eyes.

Id be curious to see if you are actually hitting depth, and what, if anything is compensated to get there. post a vid for real help.

For now, I would bring it in some, I would mimic your current stance in warm up and bring the feet back to where the knees drive out, from the front line of sight get them right over the ankle. You don't squat a little, but if you want to keep progressing you should listen to your body some. I love soft tissue work, but good soft tissue work is only as good as your injury prevention that's tied into your training, aka good form. I don't have a pic or video, but your description would lead me to think of knee/hip pain later on.

hope that helps


#3

x2 on the video request.


#4

x 3 on video. But I will also say this:

the answer to your question is all going to be based around your goals. Becoming the best powerlifter you can be can sometimes be a VERY different path that lifting to be fit, healthy, big and strong. If your goal is to squat the most weight you can, period, than maybe your ultra wide stance is the way for you to do that, even if it is going to beat you up.

However, if you are mostly concerned with general health, balance, strength and fitness, than a more moderate squatting style is probably better. Maybe you won't be able to squat 500, but if you can do some reps at 400+ with a stance that uses a fuller range of motion, and doesn't put so much strain on your joints, you will probably feel better overall, healthier, build a more balanced physique, etc etc.

Powerlifting is an extreme sport. Obviously there are ways to stay healthy while powerlifting, but the truth is if you want to move the most weight possible in the big 3, you are going to have to push your body to the limits, which is going to result in aches, pains, and chronic and acute injuries. I bet you'd be hard pressed to find a single truly great powerlifter who doesn't have aches and pains to this day, even if they no longer compete. The question is, is it worth it to you?


#5

When you look like Spiderman


#6

x4 on vid of 500@160


#7

Go to 3:16 on video.


#8

You weren't implying this is the video of the OP were you? I see 3 reds and a white which is somewhere barely north of 400lbs. Maybe 190kgs?

As for the squat form, it hurts my hips to look at it. Ouch!


#9

Thanks for all the replies, just to clarify I am no longer 160 lbs, it may be too late for me to wow you guys; wouldnt have thought that would be all that spectacular for those practised in the sport.

kpsnap nailed it, that dude in the video at 3:20 is exactly what I'm referring to. Give him a high bar placement and less of a forward lean and thats what I look like, notice the shins are never vertical. And the reason in looks painful is because it is, at least over time. I've wondered if my small waist leaves little room for my femur to move out of the way before mashing up the hip flexors.

Being able to rack it that weight and walk it, hit a shallow single and walk it back was the first thing that really drove up my trunk development and this style of squat in particular set me up a for great posterior development with minimal lower back strain. As far as lifting longevity is concerned, I think I've just been trying not to admit it may not be my best option.

A few weeks prior to this post I began bringing my stance back in, lowered bar placement and utilizing reverse bands for the downshift in weight, I feel alot more vastus medialis and lumbar contribution and although I've considered joining a PL league before, I'm more of a BB with a strength prerogative and perhaps oly style would be best for me.

PS good post NK


#10

No. I wasn't trying to imply it was the OP in the video. But I didn't clarify. Sorry! The OP's description just reminded me of Kupperstein's squat style. Kupperstein weighs like a buck 30.


#11

That video looks painful!! I can't see how that is the most optimal way to squat... I'm sure that wide stance helps his power on the dead lift though1!


#12

whoa.... lol. looks like he crumbled, then rebounded on all his ligaments to get back up haha


#13

To the OP, I squatted wide and raw Westside style from about age 35 to 45. Eventually my hip and IT band couldn't handle it. I wasn't near as wide as you, but unless you wear briefs or something.... it will catch up to you. My whole right side is F'd up and I'm pretty sure that is what did it.... I've been fighting injuries in the hip and groin for the last few years... I think heels outside shoulders is as far as you need to go on a regular basis raw.....Of course if you just want glory at all costs --- go for it LOL. Just an old guy that wishes he could squat wide again without pain.....


#14

Just to throw options and ideas out there maybe you could squat with a more moderate stance for most of your training and just do some light form work with your wide stance to keep the motor pattern ingrained or use reverse bands or chains a lot to keep stress off your hips.


#15

A normal person would take this as a sign that perhaps you are squatting too wide.


#16

This. You're 15-20 years away from a max squat if you stay healthy. No sense in adopting a stance that gives you 20-30 lbs more now if it's also going to prevent you from squatting heavy and wide in the next 5-10 years.

Or, as others have mentioned, adopt 2-3 stances for squat and only rarely go super wide as you currently do. Maybe an olympic, moderately wide, and your current stance.