How Your Anatomy Affects Your Squat

Check out the interactive model at athleticdesign.seThe squat is universally known as the king of all exercises. In spite of this, squat technique is highly variable between individuals. This is because we are all built a little bit different.

Anatomical differences, height, body weight, mobility, experience levels, muscle strengths & weaknesses etc. all affect how a person is going to squat.

If you look at the best squatters in the world, they are built to squat. This usually means that they have shorter femurs and squat very upright. If you’re reading this, you probably not one of them.

The femur bone AKA the thigh bone often has the biggest influence on what your squat will look like. The Quadriceps/Thighs are the prime movers in any type of squat.

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Why Squatting With Long Femurs is More Challenging

Short vs Long Femurs Squat

In general, a taller person will have a harder time squatting to depth but their relative limb lengths will have an even bigger impact.A tall person with longer legs will have an even harder time squatting than a tall person with shorter legs.

Increased Range of Motion

Two people can be the same height but have different proportions. The person with longer legs will have an increased range of motion in the squat. HIs/Her hips, knees and ankles will have to move through an increased range of motion to perform the same movement.

Increased Mobility Needs

Since the range of motion is greater, the mobility requirements will also be greater. We can try to change our squat stance width but this increases the mobility requirements elsewhere. Because most of us are sedentary, developing mobility to squat deep takes a lot of time and practice.

Forward Lean

If a person has long legs, his/her torso will be relatively shorter. In order stay balanced, the weight has to stay directly over your center of balance, which is the middle of your foot. Because your knees and hips are so further away from your center of balance, you have to combat this by leaning more forward just to stay balanced.

Most people with long femurs, especially beginners find it difficult to stay balanced because they try to squat more upright. If he/she squats with too much of a forward lean, the barbell might roll up on their neck.

How to Squat Deeper With Long Femurs

If your goal is to squat deeper, you will have to squat as upright as possible. The more forward lean you have, the harder it will be to hit depth.

Squat With a Wider Stance

 

Squatting wider does 2 things:

  • Reduces Dorsiflexion (Ankle Mobility) requirements
  • Makes your legs ‘shorter’.
  • Makes you squat more upright
  • Creates more space for your body to squat

When you squat wider, you’re artificially making yourself shorter. This can be seen when you film yourself from the side. You can clearly see that the apparent length of the femur is shorter with a wider stance. Because of this ‘shorter’ femur, your ankles will have to

If you squat too narrow, your knees will need to travel further ahead, thus increasing your dorsiflexion requirements.

Be careful not to squat too wide though. Squatting too wide will also make it harder to hit depth because your adductors (inner thighs) will tighten.

Narrow Vs Wide Squats

Narrow Vs Wide Squats

As you can see from the picture above, the wider squat makes my femurs shorter when you view them from the side.

Solution: Find a stance that feels most comfortable.

Use Squat Shoes

Squat shoes with a help reduce the dorsiflexion demands. This allows your knees to travel forward without your heel coming off the floor. This will allow you to squat more upright and deeper.

 

Squat Shoes Vs Flat Shoes Chucks

Squat Shoes Vs Flat Shoes

As you can see from the picture above, my squat shoes allow me to squat deeper by allowing my knees to travel further and stay more upright.

Recommended Squat Shoes

I have uses all of these shoes myself. They’re all great for the price. If I had to pick 1, I’d go for the Nike Romaleos.

Adidas Powerlift 2

Nike Romaleos 2

Adidas Adipower

Pendaly Do-Win 

Summary:

Squatting  to depth is more challenging for taller lifters and lifters with longer femurs because

  • Increased Range of Motion
  • Increased Mobility requirements
  • More Forward Lean/ Less Upright Back Angle

Solution

  1. Squat Wider to create more space and make your legs ‘shorter’
  2. Use Squat shoes to reduce mobility demands.

What has worked for you? Leave a comment down below!