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Wide vs Close Stance Squats

I know that virtually every powerlifter practices wide(and I mean wide) stance squats. I am trying to make a transition to a wide stance, but I just don’t feel like I have any exposive strength out of the hole. My medium/closer stance enables me to move much more weight. Should I still try the wide leg style or just stick with what works?

This is an awesome question.

I too have been trying to make a transition from a narrower stance to a wide stance in my squat approach. I had been going slightly wider than shoulder width and had decided that maybe 3" - 4" more on each side (30" total) would be better suited to heavier loads due to the torque adavantage, however, I get stuck at the bottom for a split second too long and lose total momentum.

I am 6’ so I am thinking maybe I should go a little wider–also I think maybe my hamstrings might be coming into play a little more than normal in this wide stance and should be perhaps hitting them a little harder with some assistance exercises. Currently I am trying one legged hyperextension (4 x 6 - 8 w/ about 20%1RM of my squat) in addition to lunges.

Any other help in this area would be much appreciated.

LIFT

Normally, you will move less weight in the closer stance. But it allows for more recruitment of the quads.

It sounds like you may be weak in the posterior chain (especially hamstrings) if you find that you have no power out of the hole when squatting with a wider stance. Either that, or you’re just not comfortable with the wider stance and not executing the squat properly.

[quote]Nate Dogg wrote:
It sounds like you may be weak in the posterior chain (especially hamstrings) if you find that you have no power out of the hole when squatting with a wider stance. Either that, or you’re just not comfortable with the wider stance and not executing the squat properly.
[/quote]
It’s probably a little of both. I think I will get more comfortable as I keep practicing, however, what sort of posterior chain exercises would help with sqautting at a wider stance?

Deadlifts, stiff-legged deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, good mornings, glute-ham raises, reverse hypers, one-arm swings, snatches, cleans, etc.

Also, your technique will change when doing a wider squat. So, if you’re used to squatting almost straight down and up (with more focus on the quads with the close stance), then you’ll need to begin to get comfortable squatting with your feet wider apart and beginning the squat by pushing your hips and glutes back and out. It’s hard to explain in writing, but if you ever see some of the videos of powerlifters squatting, you’ll see that they squat back, not down. It uses all the muscles of the posterior change with much less recruitment of the quads.

I have made the transition to a wider stance, and believe me it works in time, you just need to make sure to get your posterior chain up to snuff.

The best excersizes are Glute Ham Raises and hypers is you have the machines, but also you could do Romainian Deadlifts, Pull throughs, or Dimel Deads.

I’ll second what the others said about taking time to adjust. One thing that helped me was squatting off a low box for a while. This really adds power coming out of the hole and ensures that you’re sitting back far enough. Personally, I don’t squat off a box anymore unless I think my form is suffering and need to get the feel of “the groove” back.

I’ve been making this transition too. Ditto all the stuff about the posterior chain motions. I have also been using a bit of a duck foot stance(Toes pionting a bit outward), and just for getting the form down, pausing at the bottom, having a spotter check it, then moving the weight. This reduces the amount of weight used but has definitely helped the form. Also doubling up a band and placing it around the knees, then setting my stance and doing reps with no wieght.

you didn’t say if you were box squatting or free squatting. It’s next to impossible to learn the correct form AND develop explosive hip strength out of the hole without a box. squatting on the box is imperative especially when transitioning. Also, i second what everyone says about strengthening your posterior chain. It’s hard to sit back and not fall backwards when you have weak hamstrings.

Thanks for the feedback guys. I’ll spend the summer making the adjustment to wide stance. It will be a shot to the ego having to lower weight, but it should pay off!!

[quote]nolecat wrote:
I know that virtually every powerlifter practices wide(and I mean wide) stance squats. [/quote]

I don’t know what the majority practices with, but if you check out the USAPL and you will find that in competition the vast majority use a medium stance. (Check out Captain Kirk, squatted 1000 in single ply gear, deep, with a medium stance). I’m not sure whether this is a flexibility issue, or an issue with not having a monolift.

[quote]nolecat wrote:
I know that virtually every powerlifter practices wide(and I mean wide) stance squats.[/quote]

no they dont

[quote]Nate Dogg wrote:
Normally, you will move less weight in the closer stance.[/quote]

That is an incorrect statement!

A narrower stance produces a higher rate of force production. A force production mat will validate this as will a vertical jump(VJ) max. If you choose a wide stance for a VJ, your force production is significantly less. This is why Olympic Lifter use a narrow stance in their pulls and their squats.

So why do Powerlifters use a wide stance you ask…I think the reason is a lack of flexibility myself. To reach the necessary depth, they need to widen their stance because of the tightness in their hips (both internally and externally).

If they couldn’t use a wide stance, they’s simply toppel over because their hip inflexibility would cause their back to lean forward which would cause the bar path to be at or in front of the toes, and when the bar path is that far forward, you fall forward.

So you’re wonderring where I’m going with this, and the answer to the question is that the stance you use is more a product of flexibility than anything else. If you’re hips, hamstrings, and ankles are tight, you should look at a wider stance, ie. shoulder width or possibly further. If you have propper flexibility and can maintain propper spinal angles, then a narrower stance, ie. hip width or slightly wider would be more biomechanicly sound as well as structuarly more powerful.

Remember that going wide also activates the hips more, find a stance that is comfortable enough. If your sticking point is getting out of the hole, I’d say you start doing some pause squats and some posterior chain work.

I think a definition of “wide” and “narrow” would be helpful here…because I think some people may be getting the wrong idea.

For the original poster, the best thing for you would be to get your form checked out by stronger lifters. It’s hard to tell anything until we see you squat. Buckling the knees, not keeping a tight upper back, not pushing out on the abs, etc. could all cause the problems you’re having. We just don’t know.

I definitely feel stronger in the narrower stance. So if flexablitiy is the isse with heavier loads then is there ways to improve this to not have to go any wider than I already am. I recently had knee and ankle surgury (had a rod shoved thought my patella to fix a soddy, broken leg and screws put in my ankle) and find it very uncomfortable to go low in a wide stance.

I am going to experiment with this until I find a solution that works for me but need to know the variables involved with all aspects of the lift.

Flexability, posterior chain and core strength…is there anything I am missing?

Dominator-
Regardless of force plates, etc, the vast majority of the strongest squatters in the world use a wide stance.
It has nothing to do with hip tightness.
It is a question of whether your primary power comes from the quads or the posterior chain - hamstrings glutes spinal erectors.
It has been shown that the posterior chain can be stronger. The sit-back wide stance squat is the technique of choice for the 1000 lb squatters.

Consider also that the posterior chain is primary to athletic activity.

[quote]Dominator wrote:
Nate Dogg wrote:
Normally, you will move less weight in the closer stance.

That is an incorrect statement!

A narrower stance produces a higher rate of force production. A force production mat will validate this as will a vertical jump(VJ) max. If you choose a wide stance for a VJ, your force production is significantly less. This is why Olympic Lifter use a narrow stance in their pulls and their squats.

So why do Powerlifters use a wide stance you ask…I think the reason is a lack of flexibility myself. To reach the necessary depth, they need to widen their stance because of the tightness in their hips (both internally and externally).

If they couldn’t use a wide stance, they’s simply toppel over because their hip inflexibility would cause their back to lean forward which would cause the bar path to be at or in front of the toes, and when the bar path is that far forward, you fall forward.

So you’re wonderring where I’m going with this, and the answer to the question is that the stance you use is more a product of flexibility than anything else. If you’re hips, hamstrings, and ankles are tight, you should look at a wider stance, ie. shoulder width or possibly further. If you have propper flexibility and can maintain propper spinal angles, then a narrower stance, ie. hip width or slightly wider would be more biomechanicly sound as well as structuarly more powerful.[/quote]

wow, that’s pretty much a bunch of bull shit. I completely understand why olympic lifters and vertical jumpers would go with a close stance because you can start much lower and generate more force from the bottom but this is NOT applicable to a competition squat!! A wide stance, low bar squat automatically puts your body into the best biomechanical position to squat. It has nothing to do with flexibility. What you said about hip flexibility is closer to the opposite of what is true.

Do this for me ok? Spread your feet out wide, close to 2 times shoulder width point your feet straight forward, try to push your knees out and squat to parallel. Most people are not able to get to parallel like this because the hips can’t get to parallel with no weight. So you DEFINITELY need hip flexibility to squat with a wide stance. I won’t even go into the fact that the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back are bigger muscles and have a much greater strength potential.

in your wide stance you shouldn’t be able to break parallel without weight. I’m usually about 1-2 inches above parallel. I wouldn’t do too many heavy wide squats in training they’re tough on your hips. You could try incorperation a speed squat day into your workout to work on form and build your hips without killing them. Also do a lot of goodmornings.

I injured my hip using a sumo stance on deadlifts and ever since then I can’t seem to use any wide stance for squatting or deadlifting. I just don’t have the stability or power with the stance anymore. The injury is a torn labrum (spelling?), which I believe to be the cartilage that surrounds the ball joint.

It doesn’t seem to make quite as big of a deal for me in deadlifting (I can just use conventional stance) but for squatting it is frustrating because I can’t really do any sort of box squats. Is there any alternative method to performing some of the speed squats and box squats where I don’t need the wide stance? Are the box squats not necessary if I am not using the wide stance? Exacerbating the problem of not being able to squat wide is that my weak point for my legs is my quads, and they are recruited more with the narrower stance. Gaahhh! Help please.

Thanks,

Sensless