Last updated on October 30th, 2022 at 08:07 pm
Anyone else wondering, “Why Are My Hips Uneven When I Squat?”
There’s nothing worse than aiming to hit a big squat set, but then noticing that your hips are decidedly lop-sided.
You know for a fact that this shouldn’t be the case, and there is also the potential for injury.
So, why exactly is this happening to you?
And what should you do to fix it?
Allow me to reveal all.
Why Are My Hips Uneven When I Squat?
There are various reasons why your hips are uneven when you squat. The most common is generally that you lack hip mobility. That being said, you may also have a specific muscle tightness or weakness, which is holding you back, e.g. quads, hamstrings, glutes, quads, hip flexors, etc. Therefore, it makes sense to work on your mobility, as well as reducing the weight, so that you can concentrate on relearning perfect squat form.
You Lack Hip Mobility
So, the most obvious reason why your hips are uneven when you squat comes down to mobility.
And this will more specifically be a lack of hip mobility.
Now, this could actually simply be down to you not performing specific mobility drills prior to attempting a full range of motion squat.
Then again, your lack of hip mobility could unfortunately be a more permanent issue, which is typically caused by poor posture.
Firstly, I’m sure you understand the importance of warming up prior to squatting, and every other exercise for that matter.
However, 5 minutes on a treadmill followed by a few sets of half squats with a warm-up weight simply isn’t going to cut it.
Realistically, you’ll get the most benefit from squatting with a full range of motion, as an average recreational lifter.
So, in order to achieve this you’re going to need to open your hips up, as well as activating most of the muscles of the lower body.
For me, I have a few go-to mobility exercises I perform prior to squatting.
I’ll initially start with spiderman mountain climbers.
However, this shouldn’t be done at pace, but rather slowly and deliberately, while holding the stretch too.
So, this involves getting into the high plank position, whereby both your hands and feet are in contact with the ground.
You’ll then want to bring your left foot beside your left hand and then hold the position for 3-5 seconds, before returning your left foot to the starting position.
Repeat this on your right-hand side.
Next, you’ll want to perform a few sets of Swiss ball hamstring curls, while ensuring that you keep your hips and pelvis high throughout.
I actually credit Swiss ball hamstring curls for helping me dramatically improve my squatting technique.
Basically, I never realised how much my hips and hamstrings were holding me back.
Finally, you can finish off with a few sets of clamshells, which once more will really help to open your hips up.
You Have a Muscle Weakness or Tightness
If you’ve followed the above mobility drills, but still find that you’re struggling with uneven hips during squats, then there are potentially a couple of other problems.
These are essentially that you either have muscle tightness or muscle weakness.
However, this doesn’t always mean that it is your hips that are the issue.
In fact, it could simply be that your hips are trying to compensate due to a tightness or weakness elsewhere.
When it comes to squats, it could be down to the major muscle groups used, e.g. quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, etc.
Then again, this could yet again be a mobility/flexibility issue, but this time in the joints, e.g. hips, knees, ankles, etc.
That being said, a fairly innocuous and small group of muscles in the human body can typically cause a lot of issues, namely the hip flexors.
In fact, for such a small muscle, the hip flexors can cause a huge amount of problems.
And not just in the gym, but pretty much in every walk of everyday life.
However, the specific muscle that is causing your individual issue with uneven hips while squatting is down to you to discover.
That being said, there is actually quite an easy way to do this.
Call in what you will, Hindu Squat, Chinese Squat, or the Third World Squat, this is a simple technique to see where potential muscle tightness or weakness is located.
This involves nothing more than dropping down into a full squat and then simply holding the position.
Now, in many countries around the world people speed their entire day in this position, and find it extremely comfortable.
But, here in the western world it’s not quite so commonplace.
So, drop down into the squat, hold for as long as you possibly can until you start to feel a tightness, or a specific muscle begins to fatigue.
Pay close attention, as generally the first muscle group that wants to “give up” is where your problem lies.
Once you’re aware of the specific muscle, you now know that you need to work on building strength and mobility in that area.
Work On Squat Form With Lighter Weights
Have you noticed that your squat is absolutely fine until you hit a certain weight?
To be honest, most people will find that their squat holds up really well during warm-ups and sub-maximal sets.
However, once they aim to hit a heavy weight specific to them things start to awry.
This isn’t actually that bad, it simply means that you may need to work your way back up to that weight again.
Let’s face facts, most times in the gym we see people using poor form when they’re trying to lift too much weight.
And let’s admit it, you and I aren’t adverse to occasionally doing this ourselves.
However, if your form starts to break down during a lift, this could be an indication that you’re trying to use too much weight.
Granted, this can also happen as you approach the end of your workout, or if you’re just generally fatigued.
So, you’ll need to determine which one it is for yourself.
That being said, I have absolutely no qualms with decreasing the weight on the bar if I feel that my form is being affected.
In fact, there’s nothing to say you have to squat heavy to get big legs.
The same could be said for any exercise, but this is even more important with squats, as you’ll typically have a heavy loaded bar over the back of your shoulders.
All it takes is one slight wrong move and you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.
So, I would suggest you leave your ego at the door, and reduce the weight until you’re squatting with better form.
If this involves squatting half the weight you were previously, then so be it.
Just remember that while progressing with heavier weights on a regular basis is the way to lift, you never want to do so until your form is absolutely on-point.
How to Get a Huge Squat With Perfect Technique (Fix Mistakes)
So, as you can see, there are numerous reasons why your hips are uneven when you squat.
However, this typically comes down to a lack of hip mobility.
That being said, it can also point to potential muscle tightness or weakness.
The best way to determine which specific muscle group is the cause for concern is by using the Hindu squat.
Basically, drop down into a deep bodyweight squat and then hold the position for as long as possible.
You’ll generally find that you’ll start to feel a specific muscle after a while, and it is here that your problem lies.
Finally, it makes a great deal of sense to reduce the weight and almost learn perfect squat technique all over again, before you decide to slowly progress to heavier weights.
I spoke earlier about how I felt my hips and hamstrings were holding back my squatting. Another fairly common issue, which I have also written about, is getting sore hamstrings whenever you squat.
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.