A common squat technique may help you lift more weight – but it can also screw you in the long-term
You feel like a hulking beast when you squat. So why do you look more like Daffy Duck? The tendency to turn out your feet to 15 degrees or more during the exercise—or duck squatting, as people in the fitness industry like to call it—is a common occurrence at the gym, says Kelly Starrett, D.P.T., author ofBecoming a Supple Leopard and creator of MobilityWOD.com. But that may cause problems in the long run for the majority of guys, claims Starrett.
“When your feet pass the 12-to-15 degree range, you start to lose hip function and your femur—or thigh bone—starts to externally rotate,” Starrett explains. “Biomechanically, you’re putting your lower joints at risk of injury. Your knees begin to wobble and your arches collapse. Your knees and Achilles are vulnerable to tears.”
Now, the benefits may outweigh the risks for certain people. For instance, if you’re a powerlifter that’s trying to break records or your end goal is to build as much muscle as possible, turning your feet out may help you stack more plates on the bar, Starrett says. In the end, that’s what matters.
But if you’re only squatting to enhance your performance outside of the gym—to become more athletic or to build a lean, more muscular physique or to keep up with your kids—then you shouldn’t allow your feet to go out past 12 degrees, according to Starrett. You might be able to squat more weight, but you’re doing more harm than good in the long run.