It’s something that you’ve definitely thought about many times before, “Can Your Squat Stance Be Too Wide?”
The squat is typically viewed as the King of Lower Body Exercises.
Therefore, regardless of your physique goals, it makes sense to squat.
However, there is often much confusion as to exactly how wide your stance should be.
Plus, I know that many people worry that their squat stance may actually be too wide.
But, then again, is this actually a thing?
Allow me to explain what you need to know about squats and the width of your stance.
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Can Your Squat Stance Be Too Wide?
Yes, your squat stance can definitely be too wide. However, the width of your stance will largely depend on factors like your anatomy, muscle strengths and weaknesses, and joint mobility. With that being said, there are certain cues that will tell you whether your stance is too wide when you squat. These include, feeling a tightness in the hips, knees collapsing inwards, falling onto the insides of your feet, and swaying forwards and backwards.
1. Your Anatomy Determines the Width of Your Squat Stance
The most common form cue for squats is that you’ll typically want your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width.
Plus, you’ll also want your toes to be pointing out slightly.
However, in truth, this is simply a starting point, and should really only be used as a test.
The reason I say this is that we’re not all built exactly the same.
Therefore, what appears to be a perfect squat stance for one person could be terrible for another.
So, whilst I agree with the “slightly wider than shoulder stance”, you may need to make adjustments based on your anatomy.
The most obvious of these is how wide your hips are.
So, someone with fairly wide hips will be able to squat more efficiently with a slightly wider stance.
Whereas, someone with narrow hips will be better off with a narrower stance.
The best way to test what will work for you is to start with the slightly wider than shoulder stance and perform a bodyweight squat.
You can actually also do this with an empty barbell.
Now, as you squat down you’ll want to go past parallel without falling forwards or backwards, plus you should feel the movement in both your quads and glutes.
If this isn’t the case then you can shift your feet slightly wider until you find your sweet spot.
2. How to Tell if Your Squat Stance is Too Wide
Now, there are of course certain ways to tell if your squat stance is too wide.
And usually if your stance is too wide your body will have to compensate in some way.
Okay, I’ve mentioned that a wider stance will be required for those who have wider hips.
Plus, a wider stance is typically used by those who have mobility issues.
Basically, the wider your stance, the less depth you’ll be able to achieve with your squat.
So, ankle mobility isn’t so much of an issue with a wider stance.
With that being said, the first thing you’ll feel if you’ve gone too wide (even for someone with very wide hips) is a tightness in the hips.
Next, if you notice that your knees are collapsing inwards you would be better off using a slightly narrower stance.
The exact same can be said if you find that you are falling onto the insides of your feet as you lower yourself.
And finally, if you find yourself swaying forwards and backwards your squat stance is too wide.
So, if any of this rings true for you it’s time to use a slightly narrower stance.
3. How to Tell if Your Squat Stance is Too Narrow
You can of course have a squat stance that is too narrow.
Once more, this is typically decided by the width of your hips, although a narrower stance will generally mean that you have much better ankle mobility.
However, that’s not to say that you can’t go too narrow.
One of the most obvious cues that you’re using a stance that is too narrow is that your lower back rounds as you lower yourself.
Admittedly, this is a cause for concern for many of us, so this may also point to a lack of hip mobility.
Furthermore, if you find that you can’t activate your glutes when you squat, it’s likely that your feet are too close together.
Finally, if you seem to be falling onto your toes as you lower yourself, once more your squat will be more effective with a wider stance.
4. Reasons to Use a Wide Squat Stance
I will say that it’s not completely cut-and-dry when it comes to the width of your stance.
And this also takes into consideration the width of your hips.
However, there may be occasions when you’ll want to use a wider stance.
I’ve already mentioned mobility issues, and a wider stance will mean that you won’t require as much depth in your squats.
So, if you’re someone that has ankle mobility issues then a wider stance will definitely help.
However, you’ll need to ensure that your feet remain turned outwards 15-30 degrees.
There is a tendency to turn the feet even further outwards when you use a wider stance to squat.
But, this can lead to some of the problems I’ve mentioned above, especially in terms of your knees collapsing inwards.
I will also say that the wider your stance, the sooner your adductors will be fully stretched.
And many people do feel adductor soreness when they squat, although they typically mistake this for their hamstrings.
With that being said, one of main things about having a wider squat stance, and something I know will interest many people, is that you’ll activate the glutes to far greater effect.
So, if you really want to get your glutes fired up when you squat then widen that stance.
Is Your Squat Quad or Hamstring Dominant?
5. Reasons to Use a Narrow Squat Stance
Just as you may wish to widen your squat stance for a variety of reasons, the same can be said for narrowing it.
In fact, a narrower squat stance appears to be becoming much more popular in the modern day and age.
And this is even true amongst competitive lifters.
Firstly, the narrower your stance, the further you can typically go below parallel.
So, if ankle mobility is an issue, you’ll definitely want to avoid having your feet too close together.
With that being said, a narrower squat stance certainly takes a great deal of stress off the hips.
Therefore, if hip mobility is an issue for you, try to squat with your feet closer together.
Plus, the closer your feet are together, the more you’ll activate the quads.
So, if your aim is to truly work on quad development, a narrow stance squat is what you should be doing.
So, I hope you understand that your squat stance definitely can be too wide.
You’ll generally notice this if you feel a tightness in your hips, plus your knees or feet collapse inwards, or if you sway back and forth.
With that being said, there are times that you may wish to use a slighter wider squat stance.
This is especially true if you have ankle mobility issues and you wish to activate the glutes more.
Then again, if you have hip mobility issues and you wish to activate the quads more then you should opt for a narrower squat stance.
How would you like to potentially pack on 14lbs of lean muscle in the next 60 days? Plus, how would you feel if I told you that you only needed 3 exercises to do this (and squats happen to be one of them)? If you want to discover more then check out the Anabolic Aftergrowth Workout Program.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.