I found out that I had been doing the squat wrong, and I looked
into your site for reference on how to do it correctly. All the
sources that I had previously looked up said that I should keep
my knees behind my toes and squat down with the weight on my
heels. However, when I read your squat
analysis, it said, "Contrary to propaganda, prominent
weight training authorities demonstrate the squat with the knees
flexing forward at the same distance as the hips flex backwards"
and "If the knee does not travel forward during the barbell
squat, the quadriceps muscles are not significantly exercised."
I had been told that squatting with the knees protruding out
in front of the toes could put too much pressure on the knees
and end up damaging them. To make sure that I'm not misunderstanding
the article, am I supposed to keep my knees behind my toes (therefore
having more weight on the heel of my foot) or have them travel
more forward (therefore putting more weight on the ball of my
foot)? Also, some people told me to keep my feet parallel during
the exercise, but I couldn't find anything on it in the barbell
squat instructions page. Does it matter?
You read it correctly. If your knees are healthy, your knee
can safely travel slightly in front of your toe provided you
warmup, progress systematically and allow for adequate recovery
between workouts. This technique allows for a more balanced distribution
of torque forces between your knee, hip, back, and ankle.
If your goal is to handle as much weight as possible, such
as a powerlifter and you are less concerned about knee extension
strength or quadriceps development, you can consider the powerlifting
style squat which targets the glutes and hip adductors. With
the powerlifting style squat, depending on your biomechanics,
the knee may not need to travel as far forward as it does with
Perhaps, in opposition from what you have been taught, with
either form, keep your center of gravity between your forefoot
and heel, distributed equally through the entire foot.
You can keep your feet parallel, if you prefer a relatively
narrow stance. I would recommend your feet angle out a bit as
shown in the diagram on that same page, particularly if you have
a slightly wider stance. Just keep your knees orientated the
same directions throughout the movement.
As you can see there are several options. Your form should
ultimately reflect your personal training goals and individual
When experimenting with altered form, it is safest to begin
with a relatively lighter weight on your first workout, then
increase your resistance progressively each workout, until your
workout weight is determined. This will permit adequate adaptation
and will allow you to maintain better and more consistent form.
Also see Adaptation