Squat Stance: One Size Does NOT Fit All

by Dr. Erienne Low

The squat is a fundamental CrossFit movement that we encounter daily either in our workouts or our functional daily activities. It is vital to our everyday living. So how should we be performing the squat? Why does my squat look different than my partner’s squat? How do we optimize our squat? The answer is, it depends. How we should squat depends heavily on our anatomy and, as we know, not everyone is built the same.

Every person’s anatomy is slightly different from the next. This means that every person’s squat looks slightly different than the next person’s squat. Take, for instance, leg length. If someone has a long thigh bone compared to the rest of their body, chances are their trunk leans forward at the bottom of a squat to keep balanced. And that is OK! However, my long-legged friends can try to widen their stance a bit to help keep their chest more upright at the bottom of their squat.

Another difference is hip alignment. Some people have a more forward-facing hip alignment. They will feel better with a more narrow stance. Others have more of an outward hip alignment. They will feel more comfortable with a wider stance with their knees really pushing out in the bottom of their squat.

Finally, the long bone (femur) can have a twist in it. This is called version and can either be forward or backward. Those who have a forward twist (anteversion) will feel best with a forward-facing toe while those who have a backward twist (retroversion) will favor a toed-out stance.

Now, shy from getting an x-ray, how do we figure out our anatomy and, therefore, our squat stance? Experiment! See which combo of stance width and amount of toe-out gives you the most free-feeling squat. You may be surprised to discover that how you have been squatting perhaps isn’t where you need to be!

If you are looking for more specifics, check out my video post coming next week! I’ll show you how you and a partner can find your optimal squat stance.