T Nation

Squatting: Knees Past Your Toes


I know it's kind of a mantra - never let your knees pass your toes. I've also been told not to worry about it too much, or not at all. Who to believe?

Well... my squat numbers have always sucked (especially compared to my deadlift). Back squats seem to take a real toll on my lower back, too (I've injured it in the past), so now I'm working on front squats which still make my lower back feel achy but not 'injured'.

Anyway, I figured my knees were traveling past my toes. I shot a vid today to confirm it. My knees aren't bothering me from it, but maybe that's just because I'm pushing pussy weight (155 in the attached vid).

So, anybody want to comment on what you can tell about my form? I'd love to get my squat in check... it's the one lift that really makes me feel weak.



Going below parallel with a relatively close stance, it is simply not possible to squat without your knees going past your toes.


Looks like a pretty good squat. Maybe some rounding for a front squat here and there but nothing major.

I think when that rule started it was for people that were obsessive and doing it with a wider stance. After all are you saying a person with size 18 shoe is allowed to push their knees out 7 more inches then a size 10?


That 'rule' is a myth because it doesn't take into consideration how differently we are all built physiologically- with differing limb lengths, some peoples' knees will naturally push further past their toes as they squat deep. There's nothing wrong with knees past the toes as long as your weight is still centered on your foot and not on your toes.


It's by and large used as a justification for people to quarter squat.

Judging from the video, your past back problems may have been due to a lack of hamstring and hip flexibility- you're getting some lower back rounding on a couple of the reps. Not a terrible amount by any means, but you were also front squatting rather than back squatting.


I don't really think that applies at all to close, raw squats and it hardly applies to wide raw.
But in equipped wide squats, ideally your knees shouldn't come forward at all; you should be breaking at the hip and sitting back, which makes it look like your knees/shins don't move at all.


Cool, thanks for your input, guys. My center of gravity stays around the middle of my foot, and I try to drive up from the heel, but as a set wears on, I might rock onto the ball of my foot a little, but that's about when I will end the set. So my form doesn't look too bad, huh? That's good to hear.

Hopefully I can keep hammering at it and my squat will be more in tune with my other lifts. Any other advice is obviously welcome!



You sir, need to try wearing clown shoes to squat in. Perfect form every time.


Form is okay from what I can tell.

Knees going past toes does not cause injuries in my experience. But rocking your weight forward, onto your toes, to try to get out of the hole (a common problem in ATG squats) can lead to a multitude of problems. Just focus on staying tight and keeping your weight centered over your in the hole and you should be able to deliver optimum power and avoid injury for years to come.

Good luck.


I'm no expert, but have you tried playing around with the rotation of your feet? I've found that turning them out a little bit and pushing my knees outward throughout the lift really helps make the lift feel more solid and comfortable. I suspect it has something to do with having long legs proportional to my height - and since you're a couple inches taller than me you probably have similar leg length.


True! True!!!


You need to sit more into the hips, and less into the knees. You initiate with the knees and not your hips.

You pelvis also rolls under when as the end, so I would try to work on that. Don't go as low, or try to get some more pelvic control. read up on how to do that.

So my advice try sitting back first instead of down.


Worst front squat advice ever.


Try walking up a flight of stairs without your knees going past your toes...
you really can't.

I won't comment on powerlifting type squats, but if you are going to full squat, it is okay if your knees go past your toes as long as your weight is more towards your heels, rather than the ball of your foot. Actually, I prefer more towards the heels.

However, when you are squatting (and I understand how with ATG squats, one does not necessarily "sit back"), you are initiating the squat by pushing your knees out in front. YOu should be initiating with the hips moving towards the rear (although this will be subtle with OL ATG front squats).

Check out my vid: p.s. you don't have to do the little rocking motion I do, that is just how I do it!


But it's generic!! How can htat be bad???????!??!?!??


Hahahaha I do have small feet.

Even sitting back with a stance just outside shoulder width my knees go past my toes - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuQPi1g-z-g

Should I quit squatting?


If you want to split hairs - it appears you break at the knee before breaking at the hips. Not by much. Your form looks good. I have the same problem and have been working on breaking at the hips first. My form is better and my numbers are going up. For me it is more of a "cue" than anything else. When I think about breaking at the hips first it feels like my hips and core are more stable and give me a stronger platform to push from. Previously I felt like I was just a little too far forward and was wasting energy in order to keep my balance.

The knees past toes thing is crap if you ask me.


lol if he takes that the wrong way and leans back he will end up on his back.


There's an article somewhere in the archives that mentions a study where they analyzed the forces on your knees and hips when squatting. They found that when they used a board to keep the knees from going pass the toes in a full squat it did reduce the force on the knees by like 20%, but the force on the hips went up by more than 1000%.