How to Avoid Leaning Forward on Squats

Image Credit: Wanna be Big.com


A common error on the Squat is to lean forward. Check the picture above for an example of a Squat turning into a Goodmorning. Leaning forward is bad. This article will teach you how to avoid leaning forward on the Squat & why.


Why is Leaning Forward Bad?
You should avoid leaning forward on the Squat for the following three reasons:

  • More stress on your lower back.
  • Less efficient use of your hip muscles.
  • Increased risk of bending your lower back.

Leaning forward isolates your lower back: the Squat becomes a Goodmorning. This puts more stress on your lower back. The good way is to use your hip muscles, including the glutes, which are your strongest muscles.


Why You Lean Forward On Squats.
Beginners lean forward for different reasons than intermediates & advanced athletes.

  • Beginners: your hips raise faster than your shoulders.
  • Intermediate/Advanced: you’re not using your glutes.

If you don’t use your glutes correctly, you’ll try to get the weight up using your lower back by leaning forward. This increases the stress on your lower back which gets all the load. Meaning increased risk of lower back injury.


How to Fix It?
Several ways you can avoid leaning forward on the Squat:

  • Push From the Heels. This shifts the center of gravity to the back. Curl your toes up if needed & push upwards, not to the front.
  • Look Forward. Your body follows your head. Never look down. You risk pushing to the front rather than pushing upwards.
  • Squat Wider. Opening your stance allows your hips to go deeper more easily than when using a narrow stance.
  • Stretch Hips Muscles. Stretch all muscles of the hip: Hip Flexors, Piriformis, Psoas, Adductors, Glutes, Hamstrings, etc.
  • Chest Up. Make a big chest & lift it up. Tighten your upper-back, try to touch your shoulder-blades. Your chest must stay up at all times.
  • Bring Your Hips Up. Lockout the weight by bringing your hips up. Squeeze your glutes hard. Do glute activation work if needed.
  • Lower the Weight. Often the weight will be too heavy. So you’ll lower your hips less & your torso more to try to break parallel. Watch your ego. Weight increases must be the result of strength increases, not of more advantageous technique.
  • Front Squats. If you can’t stop leaning forward, try Front Squats for a while. You can lean forward on Front Squats, but less than with Back Squats: the bar will fall out of your hands.
  • Practice. Good technique comes with practice. Squat a lot, especially if you’ve been leaning forward for a long time. Get some weight off the bar, relearn to Squat from scratch, you’ll reap the benefits afterwards.

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