T Nation

Which Squatting Style To Use?


After a nagging back injury, I’m doing the big three again. I read a lot about technique (I want to do them correctly now).

Just a couple of days ago, I was reading this article by Dave Tate, who advocated a wide stance and feet pointing forward. A powerlifting squat. Then I saw this video by Dan John (excellent vid btw):http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6529481301858251744

In the video, he teaches the olympic squat. Which one is best? I want to squat heavy weights, but safety is my main concern. I’m a bodybuilder, not a powerlifter.



follow dan john’s lead. the style that tate advocates is a very specialized way of doing the squat to move more pounds. it puts a huge load on the hamstrings and a great deal of tension on the hips. it’s not a style for everyone. dan john’s style of squatting is a bit more universal and more likely to be in line with your goals as a bodybuilder

Thanks for the reply. I have a hard time doing it the way Dan Jon does though. It feels like i’m not flexible enough.

Use them both brother they are like apples and oranges but both great moves. If one is Hard hit it even more, if one actually hurts not strain but pain dont do it


Listen to dave tate. The guys over at elitefts know alot about the big three. I reccoment a wide stance if you trying to build up the squat or if you are just trying to built muscle then get good at them both.

Every time I read a thread like this my head starts to pound.

Wake up and smell the fucking cheese people. Wide stance WPO style squats are such a new thing and have evolved as such because a wider stance lends itself better to the gear these days.

At the NERB all the WPO squatters took their stance in. This might be because they walked it out, or maybe, just maybe it’s because they were squatting in sleeves and a belt.

Look at how the biggest raw and single ply squats are done, moderately wide. We’re not talking feet at the edge of the mono, or feet at shoulder width either. There is a middle ground people.

Hell look at Matt K’s 40rep drop set on you tube. He does it raw, where are his feet?

Just because Dave Tate says something doesn’t make it so. Dave is a very good lifter and he gives a lot of great advice. But please, PLEASE stop following blindly everything he says. After all if you don’t have a GHR (and only the one he sells) then you’ll never squat big anyway so why bother even trying?

I’m not even going to bring weightlifting into this argument. To suggest that you have to squat wide to move “heavy weight” is one of the most foolish things I’ve ever heard. Olympic lifters regulary rep 600lbs wearing maybe a belt and they do it with their feet not too far outside shoulder width. I just don’t understand how people have become so brain washed that they think wide stance squats and box squats are hte only way to move “heavy” weight.

[quote]Hanley wrote:


It’s great how you get so fired up everytime this comes up. There are so many gay comments on this “strength sports” section everyday that it’s no use.

Much of what you said is true. Someone squatting without gear will need a stance that uses there quad strength a bit too, and doesn’t put too much strain on the hips.

However, for many people who start threads like these, if they have to ask which style to use its safe to say they aren’t already training with a group of lifters that know whats up.

And many people view a normal squat as being shoulder width, which is pretty damn narrow. So when people ask about a “wide, powerlifting style” i doubt they are ALL talking about out to the monolift, as most probably have never used a monolift. And while the guys at NERB had stances in a bit, thompson, byrd, siders, and smith all have stances outside shoulder width and wider than anyone that you will see in a commercial gym. Look at my homie fat scott cw squatting 955 in jackass thread in single ply; that stance is narrower than when he wears a 2 ply and briefs, but basically the same as when he squats raw.

So what I mean with all the shit i typed is you hear wide and think out to monolift, while many newbies hear wide and think a bit outside shoulder width.

i agree with you in principle hanley, too many people blindly follow these guys without really taking the time to understand what they are about. though i think simmons has said himself that you should train with a wide stance and then move your feet in for competition. i have a lot of respect for tate/westside/simmons as they have helped improve and shape powerlifting and i have borrowed a lot of their ideas for my own training, but anyone who isn’t a geared competitive lifter needs to understand that much of the style of training they promote is for a very sport-specific goal.

If you are coming back from a lower back injury, you need to be really careful about your lower back rounding at the bottom of your squat.

Watch the Squat Rx videos I made - you don’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) do all of the exercises I threw into them, but you definately should pay attention to the parts where I talk about form… I’ve had back troubles in the past and starting back squatting w. overhead squats always seemed to be a great way to limit the loads and demand perfect form - something to consider if your shoulder strength and flexibility is up to the task.

Front squats don’t allow you to “cheat” using your back, so I think it would be nice for you especially after coming from a back injury.

I don’t see why people view using the back in squatting as such a negative thing sometimes. The guy wants to squat heavy weights, so why not do the appropriate work to rehab the back and then do plenty to strengthen his back and abs so they aren’t as vulnerable to injury.

I don’t see why people would wanna do overhead squats. I guess for an olympic lifter because you gotta have the flexibility and skill of that movement( i don’t know shit about olympic lifting though)? But why do a movement when you can’t really use much weight because you are so limited?

And the dude is a bodybuilder, so i don’t see overhead squats really doing much for building a lot of muscle. There are easier ways to learn good technique.

What do you mean by “using the back”, exactly? The reason I ask is that your lower back should be in an isometric contraction throughout and flexion is something to be avoided.

Of course he has to do lower back and ab work as part of rehab - that goes without saying…

Using the OHSQ as a proprioception exercise is a great way to come back to heavier back squats IMHO… No one said “Do OHSQs they’ll make you huge!”. There ARE other ways to learn good technique, but I can’t think of any other squat variant that DEMANDS razor-sharp technique to the extent overhead squats do.

I’m referring to the other guy who said to do front squats because you cant cheat and use your back. A forward lean is gonna happen in a back squat and isnt bad, just keep a tight arch.

I hear what you are saying and although I brought up the overhead squats, my point about just getting the back/abs strong for squatting and pulling was directed to all who talk about regular squats easily fucking up the back.

I do see your point about the overhead sq as a tool to rehab back. Zercher sqs could serve a similar purpose. Seems like learning this move because of flexibility, balance, awkwardness may be a bit whereas learning to properly squat isnt that difficult. But not trying to argue, as your points are all good.

The whole wide/close argument is moot anyway since all he’s asking about is safety. A Powerlifting squat and an Olympic lifting squat have more in common than not…you still follow the basic rules of no back rounding, no knees too far forward, head up, etc etc.

I think he should take a weight w/ each version and see how your body holds up. If your serious about the big 3 then you find a way to strengthen your weaknesses and train through any discomfort. Try both wide and close and see what you like.

Since training at Westside for the past few weeks, I have been ordered to bring my stance in a bit to keep my hips healthy and get more leg drive. It’s working. The only thing that is new for me is how hard I have to arch to get perfect form.

Vogelpohl teaches are hard arch in the back at the bottom of the squat which is maintained throughout the movement. This beats the shit out of your upper back if your not used to it. But low and behold my lower back is stress free, where it used to be super tight after workouts.

I just watched a russian squat 1155 close, w/ gear w/ a very bent over stance. So who the fuck realy knows right!

[quote]vandalay15 wrote:
I’m referring to the other guy who said to do front squats because you cant cheat and use your back. A forward lean is gonna happen in a back squat and isnt bad, just keep a tight arch.[/quote]

Yeah, a forward lean is gonna happen, and it ain’t bad at all (I never said back squats are bad). However, forward leaning can make your legs work less but make your back work more.

Furthermore, a back squat places more pressure on your spine than front squats. From a rehab standpoint, it would be nice to minimize pressure to the spine, although not eliminate it.


thank you for that link man. that is SO basic and SO correct. that’s a thing to follow.

he said how to determine your stance width. jump in the air 3 times … kind of the same as dropping from a pull up. you will land in close to optimum position. it may not feel comfortable to squat to the bottom tho. push your knees out with your hands like he shows …

wider, narrower and other types of squatting variations are only to get you through plateaus when/if you are about to hit those, but only if your "technique is correct (you have done the movement pattern thousands of times)

people tend to forget the basic as if they are too good for those. then they get injured… tho i have seen very few videos/articles where the very basic things are exaggerated and explained to full depth. it’s always the new, “better” method…

Thanks for the replies everbody. You are right, I’m not training with powerlifters (I’m the only one who squats/deadlifts in my gym) and I rely on the internet to learn more about technique. The deadlifting articles by Cressey are really helpful, too.

As for the low back injury: I’m doing lots of rehab. And now I’m feeling that it’s the right time to start squatting / deadlifting again. I’ve been front squatting with light weights up to now.

I tried both methods yesterday. Squatting with a wide stance feels better, although I used to squat with a narrow stance before my injury and never had any problems. I really think I’m not flexible enough to go as deep as Dan John wants me to:) My lower back starts to round if I go too deep (with a narrow stance). This shit sucks.

check out squat rx on youtube.

there are some exercises to increase flexibility.

Will do, thanks.