T Nation

Squats & Knees Moving In

I find that in my last 1-2 sets, or when I go heavy, my knees have a tendency to move in towards the middle. I’ve tried correcting this by focusing on spreading the floor with my feet, but I still find myself letting my knees come in. Any ideas?

A video of you squatting would help a lot.

[quote]Phil Gagnon wrote:
A video of you squatting would help a lot.[/quote]

I agree, if you could post one it’d help greatly in identifying the issue, but OTOH:

Weak abductors, get em stronger.

Tight adductors, get em looser.

Weak abs/low back, so you’re kind of coiling up throught the body.

Your legs just aren’t strong enough to handle it, back off a little and save your joints.


Then it must be your form. Your glutes are weak and/or your abductors are tight.

As said a video would be helpful.

Work on strengthening your hips.

Single-leg leg presses

I’ve heard the term ‘spreading the floor’ during squats thrown around a bunch of times… is this a conscious effort to widen the knees, or is it about pushing horizontally outwards without moving the feet, like on bench press where you can ‘push’ out or ‘pull’ in?

I know what you mean by knee bowing in. It happens when I don’t “spread the floor.”

it’s similar to the benching concept that Polquin recently discussed in one of his articles. You’re trying to keep your feet stationary and push outward to activate the hips more.

It’s just like when you try to spread the bar benching to activate triceps.

It’s a hard concept to actually use, but when you think about it enough you’ll just do it eventually and it becomes second nature to have killer squat form.

Allow me to once more pimp the Chuck Taylors like I always say in squat threads. They should friggin’ pay me.
They’re great if you’re squatting wide and help with the spreading the floor thing, they grab on most floors and won’t roll over when you try to spread.

My understanding is that this is a sign of weak hamstrings relative to quad strength…

[quote]georgeb wrote:
I find that in my last 1-2 sets, or when I go heavy, my knees have a tendency to move in towards the middle. I’ve tried correcting this by focusing on spreading the floor with my feet, but I still find myself letting my knees come in. Any ideas?[/quote]

I’ve read the responses, and here are my thoughts:

I have the same problem with my right knee. It moves in if I squat heavy. My hams, abs, and lower back are very strong, but my quads are weaker. I attribute this to a old football injury.

That said, the advise that seems most relevant to me is the single leg presses and the widened stance.

Do you have any old injuries that might be affecting your squat?

Does anyone else have input on why I’ve got this problem with my right leg only (assuming you don’t believe it is injury related)?

Don’t spread the floor, instead push your knees out the whole way through and you will naturally spread the floor anyways.

i’ve heard that putting a mini band around the lower part of your quads when you’re doing you’re build up sets helps b/c it naturally forces your knees in and you have to give a hard effort to keep them in line. good luck

Might be a case of a weak glute medius. Try having someone press in on your knees while squatting with just bodyweight. This will teach you to fire the glute medius properly. Shouldn’t take much pressure from the partner just enough for you to need to correct the problem.

As the above poster said, get some bands and place them around your lower quad, just above the knee and focus on pushing pressure out against the band.

Don’t do this on your work sets. Practice this with lighter weights or with the band only until you get the hang of it. Then you can do it with a little heavier weight. It will not only help to build strength, it will teach you how to properly fire these muscles during the lift.

You can get bands from the elite fitness site. They come in different strengths, the mini or average bands should work fine since you have to double them up to get the proper length for the exercise.

Take care,


Thanks for all the input. For the guy hawking the all-stars… that’s what I use.

I don’t have any major leg injuries.

As for glute-strengthening, what do you suggest? I could put some good mornings into my program, but any specific suggestions? Also, if you guys want to evaluate the program I’m using now, it would be awesome. Maybe there is something that could be creating imbalances.

I’ll also see if I can’t get a video up. I have one from the side, but I will get one from the front so you can see my knees.

Day 1
Full Squat 4X5
Standing Military Press 4X6
Barbell Row 4X6
Leg Curl 2X6
Leg Press/Calves 2x10
Dips 2X10
Abs 4X8

Day 2
Deadlift 4X5
Chin-ups 4X6
Bench Press 4X6
Rope Rows to neck 4X12
Lunges 2X8
Back Extensions 2X8
Biceps 2X8

I alternate between days, taking weekends off.
Day 1, off, Day 2, off, Day 1, weekend off
Day 2, off, Day 1, off, Day 2 weekend off

Try adding some pull thru’s, reverse hypers and/or glute-ham raises! You have quad and hamstring work for the lower body, but nothing really for the glutes, other than the squats.

The problem is that I lift in a univerity gym… the only thing out of those I could do is the pull throughs. (And I thought pull throughs were for your hamstrings…) Any other ideas?

[quote]cap’nsalty wrote:
Don’t spread the floor, instead push your knees out the whole way through and you will naturally spread the floor anyways.[/quote]

This is what I do. Works great for me.
Also, pull-throughs helped my squat out a ton. And Chuck Taylors.

It has been interesting for me to read these responses. I have some teen lifters who we train that have now gone on to college.

They video workouts and post them on the internet so we can give them feedback on form, etc.

A tall, relatively lanky lifter who is, interestingly, a solid squatter and puller came into town last week to do a meet.

He has not provided video of his workouts over the last couple of months.

His knees came in significantly on all three squat attempts. He has not had this problem since he was a newb.

Because he has nobody to help him with gear, he competed in belt and wraps. I think this is an important piece of information.

Here are some observations:

  1. He has moved his stance out too wide. He has neither the abductor nor the overall QUAD strength to to come out of a below parallel free squat with that stance. Particularly in the absence of a squat suit.

  2. His posterior chain, and total strength, based on my observations this weekend, have actually come up quite a bit. He is squatting more upright than he used to, and his pulls looked great (he is built to pull conventional).

However, he somehow got it into his head that he lacks flexibility so he needed to widen his squat stance to get depth.

I am having him do four things.

  1. We are making him, despite much protest, move his stance back in 3-4 inches.

  2. He will perform front squats immediately after his back squats, and pick a weight that is moderately challenging for 3 sets of 8 reps. Ass to grass, no belt. He has been slacking on these, and in the meantime, I have a 153 pound 17 year old who is eating his lunch on this movement despite a lower total.

  3. We will be bringing wide stance pull throughs and mini band abductors back into his routine, following the front squats. (He does not have access to a seated abductor machine.) 3 sets of 15.

  4. He is a conventional puller. He will now perform wide (just far enough from the plates that he can rep without smashing his toes) sumos, with moderate weight for 3 sets of eight, immediately after his conventional pulls.

That is it. I hope this helps.

I’m confused apw, why would the inability to come out of a below parallel wide stance indicate a quad weakness? I’m pretty sure that’s a function of glute and hip strength. And secondly, wouldn’t bringing his stance in require even more quad strength?