Why You Should Vary Your Back Squat Stance:
The back squat is one of the most popular exercises among bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts. But, it seems like many people don’t know how to properly perform their back squats correctly. A few years ago I was working out with my friend Mike, and he told me that he had never been able to do a proper back squat because of poor technique. He said he would have gotten injured if he hadn’t been there to correct him.
I asked him why didn’t he tell me?
And he replied “I thought you were going to say no.”
So, here are some reasons why you should vary your back squat stance:
1) You may not be able to lift as much weight when performing a back squat with a narrower stance than usual.
If so, then you need to increase the load or decrease the reps.
2) You may be compensating for other weaknesses in your lifting.
For example, if you have weak hamstrings, then you may want to try a front squat instead of a back squat. Or if you have weak glutes, then you might want to try a Bulgarian split squat instead of a conventional back squat.
3) You could just enjoy the novelty of doing something different!
(And yes, I am aware that this last reason is not really applicable to everyone. But it is still a good one!)
If you are looking to increase the load that you can handle in your back squat, then I would strongly recommend using the wider-stance variation. This is because a narrower stance increases shear force on the knees. As you move from a shoulder-width to a narrow stance, the stress on the knee increases by 40%. And we don’t want that!
However, if you are looking to hit the glutes and quads from a new angle, then you may want to try a narrower stance squat. But, you will probably not be able to resist the bar as much. This can be a good thing for people who find themselves leaning forward excessively when they back squat. It can also save the knees for people who have knee issues, but only if used occasionally!
Now, I am sure some of you are thinking that you shouldn’t back squat at all. You might have read an internet article by a “strength coach” who believes that all you need for fantastic gains is the barbell row and nothing else! I don’t know about you, but I want to be jacked as hell, and for that I need to squat, bench and deadlift! If you want to improve your strength and size, then you are going to have to use a wide variety of exercises.
Remember, it is better to squat with a wider stance in order to lift heavier weights. However, it is not necessarily bad for you to use a narrower stance if you are looking to emphasize glute and quad development.
No matter what you do, just make sure that you maintain great form with whatever variation you end up using!
P.S. If you want more information on how to perform the back squat, then feel free to check out this article I wrote last year: “How to Back Squat: Step-By-Step Guide.”
P.P.S. If you are looking to take your strength to the next level, then you may be interested in my latest eBook, “Unbeatable Strength.” I spent the last year and a half creating it, and now I am finally releasing it to the world!
This book includes ALL of the knowledge and lessons that I have learned since I started studying strength training. And I am not just talking about simple information like proper form.
I will teach you how to build strength in the most efficient manner possible. If you want to know everything that I know about strength training, then check it out here.
Sources & references used in this article:
A biomechanical comparison of back and front squats in healthy trained individuals by JC Gullett, MD Tillman, GM Gutierrez… – The Journal of Strength …, 2009 – journals.lww.com
How to squat? Effects of various stance widths, foot placement angles and level of experience on knee, hip and trunk motion and loading by S Lorenzetti, M Ostermann, F Zeidler, P Zimmer… – BMC Sports Science …, 2018 – Springer
The lumbar and sacrum movement pattern during the back squat exercise by MR McKean, PK Dunn… – The Journal of Strength & …, 2010 – cdn.journals.lww.com
Muscle activation in the loaded free barbell squat: a brief review by DR Clark, MI Lambert… – The Journal of Strength & …, 2012 – cdn.journals.lww.com
The back squat: A proposed assessment of functional deficits and technical factors that limit performance by GD Myer, AM Kushner, JL Brent… – Strength and …, 2014 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov