Who’s wondering, “Why Do My Knees Cave in When I Deadlift?”
We typically associate the knees caving in with barbell squats.
However, some of you may notice the same thing happening whenever you deadlift.
You definitely know that your knees should remain in a fixed position, but you still struggle to stop them falling inwards during deadlifts.
So, what exactly is going on here and how can you fix this?
Allow me to explain.
Why Do My Knees Cave in When I Deadlift?
The main reason that your knees cave in when you deadlift is because you have weak glutes. The gluteus maximus, which also happens to be the largest muscle in the human body, provides the required power to externally rotate the hips. You should also place your feet approximately hip-width apart, and have them either pointing straight ahead or slightly outwards. By having too wide a stance your knees will automatically cave in as you attempt to lift and lower the bar. You should also push your feet into the ground, as opposed to pulling with your arms. Furthermore, your knees caving in can also be a sign of weak adductors.
1. You Have Weak Glutes
The glutes obviously play a major role during deadlifts.
In fact, you should mainly be using your glutes and hamstrings to lift the bar from the floor.
So, it makes sense that if you have weak glutes this will affect your deadlift.
And weak glutes are definitely the number one reason your knees cave in during deadlifts.
The largest butt muscle, the gluteus maximus, is responsible for external hip rotation.
So, when you lift a heavy barbell from the floor you require a great deal of power from the glutes to ensure that your hips rotate outwards.
Without this external rotation of the hips you’ll have to rely on your lower back to lift the barbell.
And I’m sure that you don’t need me to tell you that the last thing you want is to apply a huge amount of stress to your lower back during deadlifts
Furthermore, if your hips aren’t external rotating, your lower back will bear the brunt of the load, and your knees will automatically cave in.
So, it’s probably time to work on your glute strength.
You can work on any number of bodyweight or resistance exercises.
However, I prefer a nice healthy dose of bird dogs, clamshells, hip thrusts, kettlebell swings, etc.
Basically, anything to get the glutes activated and stimulated.
Plus, a personal favourite for me, usually performed as a lower-body warm up is monster walks.
Monster Walk Exercise Demonstration
2. Your Stance is Too Wide
Something else to consider is the width of your stance.
When it comes to the traditional deadlift you’ll want to maintain a fairly narrow stance.
You should have your feet approximately hip-width apart.
I see far too many people adopting a squat-style stance when it comes to performing the deadlift.
Basically, if your feet are too wide apart there is the tendency for the knees to cave inwards.
The best explanation I’ve heard for stance width is to have your feet the same distance apart as you would for a jump squat.
You wouldn’t place your feet in a barbell squat stance when doing jump squats.
The aim is to provide yourself with some form of stability and a good centre of gravity.
And the same can be said when it comes to deadlifts.
This also ties in quite well with glute strength, or weakness, as the case may be.
When you perform an exercise sumo-style, typically squats and deadlifts, the aim is to train the glutes to greater effect.
So, in reality you’ll need fairly strong glutes to lift a bar from the floor while in a sumo stance.
Therefore, if you find your knees are caving inwards during the traditional deadlift, take note of how far your feet are apart.
I would also say that you should ensure that your feet are either pointing straight ahead or turned out ever so slightly outwards.
Even if your stance is the correct width, having your feet turned inwards will have an impact on what your knees do during deadlifts.
“How To” Deadlift
3. Push & Screw Your Feet Into The Ground
Staying on the subject of feet for a moment, they have a far more important role to play than simply how far apart they are.
The deadlift is typically viewed as a pull exercise, although I actually like to perform it as a push exercise.
What I mean by this is that I literally try to push my feet into the ground in order to activate my glutes and lift the bar from the floor.
I typically perform deadlifts as though I am leg pressing the floor.
So, imagine there is a leg press plate on the floor and you are trying to push this away from you.
Additionally, you’ll also find it helps to “screw” your feet slightly outwards.
You won’t actually move your feet and once more this will require some form of visualization.
It’s much the same as if your feet were buried in sand and you try to turn your feet slightly outwards.
As I say, you should do this without actually moving your feet, but this will help the hips to externally rotate, while also activating the glutes.
So, you will be stimulating all the right muscles in order to perform a deadlift and this should stop your knees from caving in.
4. You Have Weak Adductors
I’ve mentioned that the main reason your knees cave in during deadlifts is due to weak glutes.
However, weak adductors may also play a role.
The adductors play a major part in squats, and the soreness you feel in your adductors is often mistaken for your hamstrings.
RELATED====>Why Are My Hamstrings Sore After Squats?
With that being said, the adductors are also involved in deadlifts too.
The adductor muscles are part of the hips, located on the inner thigh, and are most commonly associated with bringing the thighs together.
But, a weakness in this area of the body could see your hips straining to rotate externally when you deadlift.
And this of course will cause the knees to fall inwards.
In truth, not many of us specifically focus on training the adductors.
Nevertheless, they play a huge part in both squatting and deadlifting.
So, it makes sense to train the adductors separately if you regularly perform the “Big Lifts”.
A couple of great exercises for adductors are wall sits and squeezing a medicine ball between your thighs.
Plus, the adductors are once more used during sumo variations of both squats and deadlifts.
So, I trust you have a better understanding of why your knees cave in when you deadlift.
As I’ve mentioned, the main reason for this is that your glutes are weak.
Basically, your glutes don’t have enough strength and power to allow the hips to externally rotate during deadlifts.
You should also be wary of foot placement and aim to push your feet into the floor in order to raise the bar.
Additionally, weak adductors are another reason that you can’t control knee movement when you deadlift.
Hi, I’m Partha, the founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I’m someone who’s been passionate about exercise and nutrition for more years than I care to remember. I’ve studied, researched, and honed my skills for a number of decades now. So, I’ve created this website to hopefully share my knowledge with you. Whether your goal is to lose weight, burn fat, get fitter, or build muscle and strength, I’ve got you covered.