Proper squatting forms the basis of any performance system and is essential to meaningful function as an athlete and a human — which includes the elderly (might need to scale though, bro). As an athlete and as a practitioner who treats fellow CrossFitters frequently, one of the things I love is the emphasis on the squat pattern. But with high squatting volume in any performance system, we need to ensure it’s reproducible.
Finding the Best Squat Width
So how do we determine best squat width for depth and performance (and to help prevent hip pain and butt winking)? “Shoulder width” is often used as a general rule; however, that differs for each individual. Many times we just start with a random width and that becomes the default. However, factors such as motor control of the entire system (particularly the over-extended spine), hip and ankle mobility, and individual structural differences in acetabulum and femur alignment all influence squat width and depth.
The sooner the femur runs into the pelvis, the less depth you’ll achieve and squat numbers will plateau. But you don’t need an x-ray to determine how you should squat.
I like this test (originally from Dr. Stu McGill, spine biomechanist) as a screen for new lifters, for those who are having hip or low back pain, and for athletes whose squat numbers are plateauing.
Watch the video: