The Butt-Wink and Squatting
Alright, so my buddy posted a video of him going ass to grass front squatting at #205 for reps. Now, I know that he’s been slowly getting back into lifting so I commended him on the effort but I noticed a pretty extensive butt-wink. I’m a coach, I couldn’t help it.
He asked a few questions on the matter to see how he could fix the problem and squat deep, with weight, for reps (how many people do you know that genuinely want to increase their squat depth?). Anyways, I refreshed my knowledge on the matter and decided it would make a good post. I’m not the first, second, third or maybe even one hundred and thirty fourth person to write about butt-wink but this is the first time I’ve written on it so boom.
What is butt-wink? This is when the pelvis “tucks” and posterior tilts during the bottom of the squat. This causes the lumbar spine to enter into flexion which, under load, is not ideal and can create low back pain.
Why do I have butt-wink? A majority of problems lie with your hips’ own anatomy. Once the femur flexes as high as it can, the only way to go deeper is for the pelvis to round underneath the spine and you lose a neutral spine (assuming you had one to start with).
Additionally, folks may have tight ankle dorsiflexors (tibialis anterior, extensor hallicus, digitorum longus) which prevents the knee from moving in front of the ‘system’ which decreases maximal hip flexion. Look to other muscle groups contributing to the core. Is your core strong enough to support the load and stress? Do your glutes fire correctly to ‘snug up’ the femur to the hip? All of these things contribute to a deeper squat.
How can I improve butt-wink? Alright, here we are, the multi-million dollar question! First, pick your parents very carefully. Second, I would suggest strengthening the core because this will not only help the squat but deadlift and bench as well. Then, focus on ankle mobility. A very common problem with many folks’ squats so I can more or less globally suggest ankle mobility. Incorporate into your program some glute activation exercises like frog pumps, standing glute squeezes, hip thrusts. Practice squatting with light weight. Practice makes perfect.
Oh so you want to know what my squat looks like? Well I’d be happy to divulge. These pictures are from the third or fourth set of 4 reps last week. I believe I was at #255, so about 85% 1RM.
So, take a look at each picture. On the left I am at parallel and I can draw a straight line right up my back, through the barbell and through my head. A fraction of a second later, my hips dip so that I can get an extra inch and make a convincing argument that my hips are below my knees. However, the connection is lost somewhat and you can see my hips tucking down and away from my hips.
I would say that I have a minimal amount of butt-wink, however, I am using a low bar position with quite of bit of forward trunk flexion. This makes it harder on a coach to tease out technique versus dysfunction (y’all should have figured out it was low bar given the fact that I drew the tibia angle).
My issue is in a) core stability and b) ankle mobility. I know that I’m lacking in each department and that becomes overwhelmingly apparent when I front squat. Correcting both those issues may resolve my minimal butt-wink. Below are some videos from around the web that highlight some of the solutions I discussed here. I hope you all enjoy!
Gentilcore, vertical paloff press: https://youtu.be/GgOa24EoFBA
Cressey, rollouts: https://youtu.be/Gg4o745td04
Starrett, ankle mobility: https://youtu.be/_Gwgm3s2EQ0
Contreras, frog pumps: https://youtu.be/HyCiZVMMDW4
Alex Burtch, M.S., CSCS