How to Squat: The end of the “Squat Debate”


I am pretty weary of the “squat debate” that has taken place on the internet recently. I think the points of contention that are generating blog posts ad nausem are pretty petty and small. So this post can serve to end that debate, and we can move onto better topics.

The problem, with the debate, is that internet trainers are talking about “a lift” and not a movement. If we were actually talking about the movement of the squat, we wouldn’t be saying stuff like “knees out” and “wide stance” or “oly stance” (ugh, writing oly hurts me a bit).

No, if we were talking about the movement of a squat, we would be talking about stance and mechanics that would allow us to do it across disciplines, and in broader uses like resting in a squat, and the other popular use for a squat stance (insert poop joke here).

The video below is a framework for how we teach a squat, not the back squat, the front squat, the goblet squat, etc. No we are not teaching a lift, we are teaching a movement, and that’s where most people are getting it wrong.

*This is also a perfect way to squat if you are an Olympic lifter, there is immediate carryover from one lift to the other.

  • Dan

    Hi Wil,

    Good video. I’ve been olympic weightlifting for about a year (strength training for a while before that) and have always had a hard time keeping a vertical torso when back squatting (front squatting isn’t so bad) even when wearing weightlifting shoes (adipowers). I don’t believe this is due to a lack of core strength or poor ankle mobility but due to less than ideal levers. My femurs and torso are about equal length but I believe my shins are quite short in relation – this causes me to lean over considerably to keep my balance while squatting. I can goblet squat perfectly because the weight in front provides a counterbalance. When I put 5-10lb plates under my heels while wearing adipowers, I am able to keep my torso much more vertical when back squatting. So do you think I need a shoe with a higher heel or might there be something else going on I’m not considering?

    Thanks and go Hoosiers!


    • Dan- Good question, I do think that my proportions make my squat capable of this sort of stance and position. I would have to see video of each, but it stands to reason that if you can front squat with a vertical torso, back squats shouldn’t be too far off. I definitely present an idealized squat (with no torso movement), so in practical application the back squat may look a bit different, but the intent should be the same.

      • Dan

        Thanks Wil! Could I send you a video or some photos for your opinion? If so, where would I send them?

        • reach me on my contact form up above and then I will reply back and you can attach videos.

  • stefanie

    Thanks, Will. I have been struggling with keeping my torso upright during back squats and, after watching your video, I checked and found that it’s also almost impossible for me to do even an unweighted (air) squat without my torso falling pretty far from upright. Perhaps not surprisingly my squat is quite weak (about equal to bench and about half of my deadlift). Obviously I need to work on the movement.

  • I like the thought behind this of looking at the movement rather than the lift. I too get a bit tired of all the different squat debates out there. I’ve been trying to improve my own squat as well which has shown me just how tight my hip flexors are so that’s something I also need to work on.

  • tennesse Brubaker

    .Great video.How would you differentiate a lift from a movement? I so envy your hip mobility, the depth in the squat demo was prime.(injuries have robbed me of mine…lol)

  • chasecarlson34

    I think I’m starting to need some knee sleeves and was wondering your opinion on these? http://www.weightliftpro.com/#!weightlifting-gear/c1vit