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Wide Stance Hip Thrusters

Knee valgus is a common squat issue, particularly with new lifters. The knees tend to cave in as the lifter ascends. I’ve talked about this a lot, and the catastrophic effect it has on your squat form. I’ve been working with lifters on technique and strengthening approaches to help correct the issue.

When it comes to hip extension, the glutes and hamstrings are the monster movers. We don’t think about the adductors (muscles that adduct the hips – pulls knees in). The adductors’ primary purpose is hip adduction, but they are also extensors, and get involved in driving your hips forward as you rise from the ashes known as your squat. When you think about it this way, it makes sense that when the adductors are engaged in the squat that they have a tendency to pull the knees in.

How do you address this issue? 

Balance. Balance the engagement of the adductors with engagement of the gluteus medius. The gluteus medius is also a hip extensor. Additionally it helps externally rotate and abduct the hips (knees out).

I’ve been working with a lot of abduction in mobility and warmups for squats, but being a powerlifter, I thought ‘why not find a way to put a heavy load on the abduction movement?’ 

Cue the hip thruster (and my lifters’ middle fingers). The hip thruster is like a leg press for the ass. You can load it up with weight and still have relatively low impact on the rest of the body. Now shift to a wider stance. This shifts the emphasis from the gluteus maximus to the gluteus medius – the target muscle group to correct knee valgus.

My rules for hip thrusters:

  • Proper execution of a set ends with you rolling into the fetal position with baseball sized cramps in your glutes; with the wide stance the baseballs should be in your gluteus medius.
  • Hip thrusters are a high volume, high weight lift; I’ve found sets of 10-15 reps with weights similar to your deadlift working weights to be very effective.
  • Make sure you’re getting full hip extension.
  • Instead setting the bar in the crease of your hips grinding on your hip bones, set your hands on the bar and push it down slightly to rest on the meat of your quad…it’s much less painful.


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