Colin squat

Supple Leopards VS. The World: My Take On The “Knees Out” Debate

Supple Leopards VS. The World:

My Take On The “Knees Out” Debate

Quinn Henoch, PT, DPT

Recently, on Bob Takano’s blog, there was an in-depth series of discussions regarding the use of the extreme “knees out” technique when performing the squat.  For those of you not familiar with Bob Takano, he is a USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame inductee who has coached numerous champions at the national and international level.

The debates were sparked when a chiropractor and former USAW Sports Med Chair, Dr. Brendan Murray, emailed Takano about the reasoning behind why athletes (crossfitters specifically) were shoving their knees out forcefully outside of the foot and ankle during squatting and pulling movements.  Murray was finding an increased number of injuries in his clinic, which he thought was due to this technique.  This practice was quickly attributed to the teachings of Kelly Starrett, who’s side I will refer to as, “The Supple Leopard Camp”.  The fun ensued shortly after, as this became a hot topic in the rehab, crossfit, and olympic weightlifting worlds.  The 6-part series of debates can be found here:

http://www.takanoathletics.com/blog/?p=3269

http://www.takanoathletics.com/blog/?p=3272

http://www.takanoathletics.com/blog/?p=3276

http://www.takanoathletics.com/blog/?p=3280

http://www.takanoathletics.com/blog/?p=3286

http://www.takanoathletics.com/blog/?p=3289

To be honest, I was completely oblivious to the drama until I received a voicemail from one, Russell Berger of Crossfit HQ, asking my opinion on the subject as a PT and competitive weightlifter.  It was going to be the topic on some type of Crossfit TV show or something.  I then read the whole 6 part series in my car on my trusty Iphone.  I encourage you all to take a look at the arguments and formulate your own opinion.

 The dealings with CrossfitHQ have not panned out, as of yet; so I will have to put my TV star aspirations on hold.  Regardless, I want to share my thoughts on the subject, because I am encountering many of the same issues in clinical practice.

 My goal for this article is to be as objective as possible, and by no means is this meant to be some personal attack or internet jab at Kelly Starrett or his Supple Leopard camp.  Starrett was a big influence in my decision to go to PT school, and his work has continued to influence my practice up to this point; though, my philosophies have evolved greatly over the past 3 years.  Also, I do not intend this article to be an argument for whether shoving your knees out past your feet is right or wrong.  I simply want to address specific statements that were made, because I believe they may contribute to the issues and misconceptions (key word) I see clinically.   Here go’s…

Opening Statements

“Knees out is not the same as driving hips into ground And we seem to solve knee problems.  And back problems.  In everyone.  And help set American records. And world records.” Kelly Starrett

This was Kstar’s entire contribution to the discussion.  Basically, I took this to mean,  ‘I’ve got a plane to catch and don’t have time for this shit’.  I cannot imagine how much of this he deals with on a daily basis.  So I’ll leave this one alone.  But c’mon man… You solve everyone’s knee and back problems?  That’s a damn good percentage.  I can’t wait for that data to hit the peer reviewed literature.

From this point, the minions from the Supple Leopard Camp take over the debating responsibilities.

Let’s establish one thing, with any movement the goal is to produce the most amount of torque and not allow any torsion [to] occur on a compression/loaded body.  This directly also creates positions that get rid of every single injury we have ever seen in all our athletes/non-athletes.”

–Supple Leopard Camp

The first sentence will be addressed later.  However, the proclamation that this technique, “gets rid of EVERY single injury we have EVER seen in ALL our athletes”, irritates me to the core.  Again, please publish these incredible outcomes.  There is no faster way to lose credibility than to say your shit works for everyone all the time, without data to back it up (I’m trying to stay objective, I promise).

 Regarding The Creation Of Torque In The Hips

 Let’s establish one thing, with any movement the goal is to produce the most amount of torque and not allow any torsion [to] occur on a compression/loaded body.”  -Supple Leopard Camp

and

  “During Oly- or Power-lifting the goal again is to set yourself up to produce the most amount of torque to get the bar from point A to point B.”–Supple Leopard Camp

 This idea of “torque” that the Supple Leopard Camp continued to refer to is in reference to Starrett’s book, where he frequently refers to the ‘Laws of Torque’ at the hip and shoulder.

In human biomechanics, internal torque is (Muscle Force) X (Moment Arm).  The product of these two produces a force that acts on something – in this case the femur when squatting.  I have not seen any evidence that suggests pushing your knees outside your feet alters internal torque in the hip in a favorable way, as it is explained in KStar’s book  (which is not a peer reviewed source, nor does it contain any references).  This is also a very difficult thing to quantify because below 90 degrees of hip flexion, the functions of many of the muscles that cross the hip are altered – some of the external rotators becoming internal rotators for example.1  It is fine to use these terms anecdotally, but to say the goals of weightlifting and powerlifting is to produce the most amount of torque is ambiguous at best.

 Regarding Stability Of The Hip And Spine When Squatting

 “If we want to speak anatomically/biomechanically/physiologically then we know that the hip is the most congruent at 90 degrees of flexion in moderate amounts of abduction and external rotation.  Since Oly lifting requires more depth (Ass to Ankles) then we have to get more external rotation and abduction to maintain this congruent (minimal passive tension) to maintain the stable spine and vertical torso.”  -Supple Leopard Camp

 and

 “Athletes that are squatting with toes out and knees tracking over the feet will have to find stability elsewhere (since it is not coming from the hip)”–Supple Leopard Camp

 I found no evidence suggestion that “getting more” external rotation and abduction when squatting past 90 degrees maintains congruency and minimizes passive tension.  In fact, by shoving your knees out maximally, you would actually increase ligamentous (passive) tension, and limit your ability to attain more hip flexion.  It is shown that full hip flexion (≥120°) decreases passive tension of the capsular ligaments, and increases tension in the glute max.  Full hip flexion also mechanically prepares the adductors to help with hip extension.2  So, if you are limiting hip flexion in any way, you are limiting the rubber band effect of glute max and adductors.  Where I come from, the goal of a squat is to stand up, so maximally loading the muscles that help you do that is probably a good idea

I found nothing to suggest that letting your knees track over your ankles and squatting straight down creates instability in the hip or spine.  The athlete should be able to continue flexing at the hip, while maintaining a neutral pelvis.  If they cannot, I don’t believe the answer is to tell them to shove their knees out in order to compensate (clinical opinion).

 

Lu xiaojun CHN 77kgColin squat

 

Regarding Squat Depth

 From an anatomical standpoint, it [knees out] also un-impinges the hips allowing the femur to continue flexing without running into the pelvic bowl.” –Supple Leopard Camp

and

 “When an athlete from the initiation and throughout until the bottom of the squat is pushing their knee out [he is referring to pushing the knee OUTSIDE of the foot] they are not actually creating a varus force, what they are doing is flexion/abducting/externally rotating the hip which allows the athlete to squat to depth.” –Supple Leopard Camp

 and

 “Also – putting your hip into max flexion/external rotation/abduction does create the most stable position but that does not mean you cannot squat ass to ankles, in fact it is the only way to squat ass to ankles while maintaining a stable/neutral spine, proper alignment in all joints and least passive tension on the body (which a loss of will cause torsion moments on the body and increased stress on joints)”

-Supple Leopard Camp

So in order to squat “to depth” and prevent hip impingement, one must maximally shove their knees out past their feet?  I will refer to Colin Burn’s and Lu’s pictures above.  They seem to attain proper depth without doing this.

As I mentioned before, maximal external rotation and abduction near the bottom of a squat actually increases passive tension in the hip joint by tensioning the capsular ligaments of the hip.  I am not saying this is a good or bad thing.  However, performing maximum range of motion in one plane will limit range of motion in another3,4.    So again, shoving your knees out as hard as you can, will limit hip flexion.  Maybe this is not such a bad thing for a powerlifter that only needs to squat to parallel (the pic of Dan Green below still shows his knees over ankles); but probably not so great for a weightlifter who must receive the bar in a much lower position.

dan2

 I find nothing concluding that excessive external rotation and abduction is required to avoid hip impingement while squatting, or that keeping your knees over your ankles causes hip impingement, assuming no structural abnormalities.   I find that if an athlete complains of hip impingement while squatting, it is usually the result of excessive anterior tilt; not because they fail to shove their knees out (clinical evidence only).

 Regarding Knee And Ankle Mechanics When Squatting

 “At the knee there is relative external rotation of the femur on the tibia which inherently helps stabilize the joint by placing the ACL on tension rather than a slack position.” –Supple Leopard Camp

The external rotation of the femur cited here is a subtle involuntary change that acts to unlock the knee joint so it can flex more.  It does not place tension on the ACL in a squat.  The ACL is almost completely slacked in the bottom of a squat.  It is tensioned when the knee is straight.5,6  This one doesn’t have much significance, other than the fact that it was wrong.

 “As we make our way down to the ankle we have to think beyond just dorsiflexion/plantarflexion.  What we consider here is subtalar eversion that allows the foot to stay flat through relative supination at the rearfoot and pronation at the forefoot.” -Supple Leopard Camp

 Considering eversion + supination is difficult for me.  Supination of the foot involves heel inversion.  So what I take from this – when squatting, there is relative eversion of the heel along with relative inversion of the heel.  How does the body do two opposite things at the same time???

**Public Service Announcement**

 At this point, I probably seem like an asshole that is just picking apart anything he can find.  Perhaps…  The point of my last two dissections is that using a bunch of fancy anatomical and physiological terms to prove your argument does NOT make you right.  It also will not deter people from sifting through the bullshit.  I have learned very quickly in this industry to dot my I’s and cross my T’s, and do it in a as simple a way as possible, so that it actually makes sense to people.

 Continuing on…  We are almost done.

References Cited

“Grab any textbook on myofascial meridians and understand that the body is meant to rotate and the stable position of the body is through these rotations and primarily external rotation out of the lower body.” Supple Leopard Camp

 This is the scientific reference you cite?  Myofascial meridians?  I love fascia as much as the next guy.  It’s very interesting… but it’s theory.  I can grab and read any book about astrology too; it doesn’t mean I’m going to live my life by the laws of the Aries (I had to look up my symbol, I swear).  Again, referring to this type of stuff is fine, as long as its not your only source, and you don’t make it seem like it is the accepted law of the land.

My Experience and Final Thoughts

 “I would say that there is an increase in injuries as a result of poor tech. I have seen a consistent pattern that if they had patella-femoral syndrome from squatting or pulling they push their knees out. I have seen the same pattern with low back injuries in cross fit athletes.
More telling to me is once they are out of pain I can get them back squatting and pulling quickly by changing their technique away from the knees out.” -Dr. Brendan Murray

 

This was Dr. Murray’s final word on the subject.  I have seen patterns completely consistent with this in my own clinical practice.  Several of the athletes that have come to me with hip, knee, and low back pain demonstrate an exaggerated knees-out position when squatting.  Do I have the evidence to prove that this technique is causing the pain? Nope.  Do I care to prove that this technique is causing the pain?  Nope.   All I can say is that when I have athletes demonstrate a balanced foot position and proper pelvic alignment, while allowing the knees to track naturally, it seems to improve symptoms.  With those fundamentals firmly in place, then individual tweaks in technique are implemented.  As far as my view on taking a scientific approach to this stuff, Mr. Takano sums it nicely in the last installment of the series.

I am still a fan of Kelly Starrett and the Supple Leopard Camp.  However, when you attempt to universalize a movement for millions of people, these are the types of issues that arise – misconceptions, he-said/she-said, etc, etc.  I do not hate the cue “knees out”.  It has its place for sure.  I use it, but I don’t abuse it.  Let that be a lesson for the kids.

I feel a Part 2 coming on that will be much more informative about how we go about building the squat and teaching joint positions.

-DrQuinn

References

  1. Delp SL, Hess WE, Hungerford DS, Jones LC: Variation of rotation moment arms with hip flexion, J Biomech 32: 493-501, 1999
  1. Hoy MG, Zajac FE, Gordon ME: A musculoskeletal model of the human lower extremity: the effect of muscle, tendon, and moment arm on the moment-angle relationship of musculotendon actuators at the hip, knee, and ankle,  J Biomech 23: 1570169, 1990
  1. Fuss FK, Bacher A: New aspects of the morphology and function of the human hip joint ligaments, Am J Anat 192:1-13, 1991
  1. Martin HD, Savage A, Braly BA, et al: The function of the hip capsular ligaments: a quantitiative report, Arthroscopy 24:188-195,  2008
  1. Jordan SS, DeFrate LE, Nha KW, et al: The in vivo kinematics of the anteromedial and posterolateral bundles of the anterior cruciate ligament during weightbearing knee flexion, Am J Sports Med 35:547-554, 2007
  1. Yon-Sik et al. Changes in ACL length at different knee flexion angles: an in vivo biomechanical study. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc (2010) 18: 292-297

Comments (50)

  1. Bond Girl

    Interesting stuff! It seems like “knees out” is a cue best suited to those with the tendency to collapse their knees inward during a squat (in order to get them to a more neutral position), rather than to the squatting masses.

    What would be your advice regarding squat depth for an athlete who has 40% of the labrum in one hip joint (post arthoscopic surgery for a labral tear) and whose squat has a significant difference in hip depth on each side? I assumed knees out would help with the “impingement” (per the Supple Leopard Camp), but there’s no noticeable difference.in the hip position with this cue. Should the athlete just stop squatting at the depth where the limited hip stops?

    • Quinn Henoch

      Bond Girl, that’s a tough call without assessing you first. To be safe, yes I would only squat to a depth where you are not impinging or trying to push through the limitation of the repaired hip. Work on trunk and pelvic control, and focus on spreading your toes and keeping them down throughout the duration of the squat. With those fundamentals in place, you can play with whatever knee position is most comfortable; but don’t sacrifice the other stuff.

  2. Fanfreakingtastic article.

  3. […] This is my response to a friend’s intrigue over a recent series of social media posts. […]

  4. […] Supple leapords vs. the world: my take on the “knees out” debate  […]

  5. jer

    This is exacly what happened to me, I have been crossfiting for 4+ years. I have been doing everything “right” and now its been 8 months since I have squatted weight… can’t seem to find a damn PT that knows how to fix me

  6. Ashley Young

    Anecdotally, as a physical therapist, olympic weightlifter and coach I have also seen multiple cases of knee pain with individuals who employ an excessive knees out position squatting and agree with Henoch.
    With regard to hip impingement with squatting I have found that poorer ankle mobility on the impinged side is often a contributing factor along with lumbopelvic control.
    I really enjoyed this article, if for no other reason that it provides some anecdotal support to the conclusions (re: excessive knees out squatting) I have come to over the last year.

  7. Jake

    Is this starting to sound like the hbbs/lbbs debate that has gone nowhere? As any good coach will tell you: it depends what you are training for.

    I’m no sports scientist/medical practitioner/meridian guru. But I can understand Starret et al’s goal in documenting some ‘global’ principles for optimal human performance based upon both clinical observations and anecdotal evidence, gained from a ohs and years of competing/coaching at a high level.
    That said for any rule, there are 100 exceptions aren’t there? Powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting are sports, and the squat used in each is sport specific. Sport specific movement will always deviate from global principles as the goals are different. Wanna do oly? Learn to go atg. Wanna PL? Learn to go 1mm below parallel.

    Wanna learn how to squat that will have a generally positive carry-over into a few different things? Squat like KS recommends. No you will not be performing optimally in specific pursuits like Olympic weighting or powerlifting. But you will improve across a broad range of areas. Global vs specific. What are you training for.

  8. THANK YOU

    Finally…someone that uses references and actual research to back up their opinions.

    I’m sure Kelly is a nice guy but the only reason he is known at all is because if the uneducated CF masses that swing from his nether regions.

    Does some if his stuff help? Sure. Does it help everyone? Hell No! And more to that is that most of his followers do so blindly just because – no reasoning and no critical thinking.

    Remember when he said not to ice anymore and he had more traffic and comments on his blog than ever before? Remember how many were like “oh wow I totally get it and it is now gospel” and on the other hand the professionals called him out over and over and he didn’t bother to reply? All his minions and even his wife tried to stand up to the experienced and educated but he couldn’t be bothered except to push an over priced TENS machine.

    Thank you for actually making the sheeplike think. And did everyone notice all the athletes getting into ice baths at the games? Maybe some people actually do think for themselves.

  9. […] “Supple Leopards Vs. The World: My Take On The “Knees out” Debate” […]

  10. Very wonderful article. Congratulations.

  11. […] Supple Leopards VS. The World: My Take On The “Knees Out” Debate – dsstrength […]

  12. This article would be vastly improved if you did not lump Starrett’s supporters who responded to Takano into the “Supple Leopard Camp”. From what I’ve read so far, the majority of quotes cited here are from Roop Sihota who is a doctoral candidate in PT, the other is Diane Fu.

    In general though, the Takano dialogues are great, Loren Chiu in particular. And I’m glad you posted this article.

    Anecdotally, as my hips and ankles became much more flexible over the course of a couple years, I kept cuing knees out and eventually over a long period of time I believe this was the primary cause of my acute patellarfemoral syndrome, that has kept me from squatting heavy loads for the better part of a year. I am not a crossfitter, but I do follow Kelly Starrett, Justin Lascek (who has also advocated the knees out cue for powerlifting and squatting in general, as well as creating torsion through the leg during squats).

    This is not only limited to the crossfit community, and there are plenty of astute trainees who may experience this issue as its very difficult to catch excessive external rotation unless you see an extreme example (ie someone with a narrow squat stance who pushes the knees out throughout the descent and ascent of the squat). I have trained with many excellent coaches including John Callis, Don McCauley, Rick Bucinell, and Jeff Teach who never caught this particular issue or instructed me to change my squatting form.

    • Quinn Henoch

      Chris, thanks for the feedback. I’m was well aware of who exactly those quotes belonged to. I intentionally did not post names, as calling specific people out was not my goal. It didn’t matter who said them. The statements I quoted represented a common theme that seems to be affecting the athletes that I see in clinical practice. I posted the links to the articles so that if people were hell bent on knowing exactly who said these things, they could read for themselves.

      Another premise to my article has nothing to do with knees or squats. I want to help people start to think critically about things. Learn from more than one perspective (no matter who is “right” or “wrong”), and be able to evaluate and apply valid research while doing so. This is a tall task, but I think it’s important.

      • Quinn, I appreciate that the goal was not to call anyone out, but at least to me, it came across as belittling their points. Takano’s summation was less than satisfying. His ad hoc analysis that no top lifters externally rotate like Starrett and others advocate is certainly lacking evidence, although i’m sure he could cobble something together. Many top lifters (I’m looking at the Chinese) clearly externally rotate during the ascent of the squat.

        So I have two beefs, 1 with Roop and “Supple Leopard Camp” for the prosaic and somewhat rambling biomechanical descriptions which barely examine why this technique could be causing patellarfemoral syndrome (there is some talk alluding to an imbalance between ROM of the adductors versus abductors). I’d really like to hear Starrett weigh in himself. and 2 with Takano for making this seem like such a simple, slam-dunk issue of learning “proper technique”. It’s not. A novice or intermediate trainee who is tweaking the foot angle of their receiving position or squat even to a minor degree could easily end up with this chronic pain as I have had.

        In any case, very appreciative of this article which has given me some anecdotal evidence that my diagnosis is not off the mark.

      • Hi Dr. Quinn. We enjoyed your article here on crossfit squatting. we made it a big part of our podcast dialogue and gave you great props and compliments. here is the link if you ever want to use it to help your cause. Feedback is always welcome. keep in touch. Dr Shawn and Dr. Ivohttp://thegaitguys.tumblr.com/post/95915299984/podcast-73-cross-fit-and-squatting-knees-out

  13. […] Supple Leopard vs. The World On Knees Out Debate:dss  […]

  14. George Symes

    Well balanced article (pun intended) and excellent insight for the biomechanics of squatting.

  15. As an “uneducated sheep” in the Leopard Legion, I find this article and the links attached to be a very interesting/entertaining read.

    I have never dissected a human and seen how the muscles and joints move, so the practices I follow are based on the stuff I hear that makes the most sense. (I don’t want to speak for other CrossFit trainers, but I would guess they are similar). Methods taught by people like Kelly Starrett and Carl Paoli make a lot of sense to me and seem to fit the purpose of our coaching, so we run with it and have had great results for our kids.

    Articles like this give coaches a great opportunity to look at both sides and make their own choice. But even more so, I think it is really cool that people of this stature come out in the open and discuss this stuff for everyone to see.

    I wish the major sports world worked the same way. If Nick Saban and Urban Meyer would do that, maybe Michigan would be headed to something better than the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl this year.

    Argue on!
    Chris

    • Quinn Henoch

      Chris, thank you for the comment. I am definitely an advocate for continuing to do what works for you and your athletes. Kelly Starrett’s book can be a good resource for coaches. I think what happens over time is that people misinterpret information, get a little too excited, and start to make unsubstantiated claims. This is what my article is addressing. Keep up the great work with your kids and thanks for reading.

  16. Melissa Gleissner

    I love the article, Quinn! I couldn’t agree more. Thinking critically and being able to fish through the good and bad information is of the upmost importance. I love that you included your references and are using scientific research in your explanation. Thanks for the post and I’m looking forward to more in the future!

  17. One of my coaches passed this along to me last night. Great article.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly that the “knees out” cue is lazy at best. At it’s core it’s an attempt for an athlete to engage a more posterior dominant squat. Saying “knees out” without reference to foot position seems to be the issue I see with most of my athletes. Having attended Starrett’s seminar and worked with USAW coaches as well, the common theme is an attempt for athletes with weak posteriors to maintain a foot angle less than 15-20 degrees, create an arch in their foot, AND drive their knees out as they engage their squat. The problem with a simple “knees out” is that an athlete can have their feet at a 45 degree angle with pronated arches and still drive their knees out, causing a valgus tension on their meniscus.

    2. Not sure if the author is a weightlifter or not, but distinction needs to be made in knee position of the pull, receiving position, as well as the recovery. I know for a fact that Starrett and his WL & PL gurus, Diane Fu, Mark Bell, & Jesse Burdick advocate for a the position much like the one shown in your picture of Lu. This is the receiving position. No one in all of WL (including the Supple crowd) expects a knees out position in receiving, but as you can see in the following video, Lu pulls, and recovers with the exact knee position the Supple Camp advocates. Watch any elite WL & you’ll see distinction between receiving, pulling, and squatting. Methinks you and the Leopard are simpatico on that front.

    • Quinn Henoch

      MMSCANLON, thank you for your comment. I am, in fact, a competitive weightlifter. I’ve also taken starrett’s seminar and been coached and worked along side some great minds in USAW.

      You bring up fantastic points. Analyzing the weightlifting technique of elite lifters was not necessarily the premise of my article, however. That’s a deep rabbit hole. It is a great topic to discuss though, and may be a subject in my second installment; but I would defer much of that to experts such as Takano and others. I would argue that in the Supple Leopard book, (which I own and have read), the athlete is clearly shoving the knees outside the plane of the foot in the photos depicting the receiving position of the snatch and clean and jerk.

      Having said all of that, my premise was to address specific statements, with the evidence I was aware of. I understand that people are automatically going to peg me as taking sides. I have no problem reiterating that I’m not out to prove “right” or “wrong”; but rather am seeking to mesh anecdotal evidence with validated research.

  18. […] NOVEMBER 11, 2013RYANDARKSIDECROSSFIT, KELLY STARRETT,KNEES, MOBILITY, PAIN,PHYSICAL THERAPY,POWERLIFTING, SUPPLE LEOPARD, WEIGHTLIFTING18 COMMENTS […]

  19. Quinn Henoch

    Thank you for the feedback everyone.

  20. Hank

    1) I think there needs to be a clarification in nomenclature because when compared to valgus knee, the pictures shown are all examples of “knees out” and when coaching athletes to squat valgus knee is a common problem that needs to be avoided. “Knees out” is a good cue for this.
    2) I come from a wrestling background and we have a similar struggle with MMA that OLY lifting is now having with CrossFit. We have many wrestling coaches that to this very day view MMA as the plague that will be the undoing of wrestling BUT when you look at the facts: FAR more people have been exposed to wrestling via MMA than through wrestling’s own volition. The reality is MMA is here to stay and has created opportunities for wrestlers and wrestling coaches to participate in MMA and earn a living doing what they love. CrossFit is a vehicle for OLY coaches and athletes to continue practicing their sport as well. Rather than take shots at the CF community, recognize it as a great opportunity for OLY.

    • Quinn Henoch

      Hank, thank you for your feedback. The debate in the Takano articles, that I linked in my writing, was about pushing the knees outside of the plane of the foot. The pictures I posted demonstrate the athletes’ knees tracking over the ankles.

      Nowhere in my article did I take shots at the crossfit community. I have competed in Crossfit as an athlete, coached crossfit, and have crossfit “certifications”. I also run a cash based physical therapy practice in conjuntion with a crossfit gym. I completely agree with you that crossfit has brought much exposure to the sport of olympic lifting.

    • Pat Roode

      I really have to disagree with comparing oly liftings issue w crossfit to the issue wrestling has w mma. I train w some very very high level mma athletes, grew up wrestling, coach weightlifting and have also had experience w crossfit. I canpromise you that the differences are huge.
      MMA is not “changing the dynamics of wrestling, however, crossfit IS making big changes to the way people approach weightlifting technique AND training. Especially when you add the fact that crossfit has people doing these extremely skilled movemwnts for time, which allows them to exchange regard for proper, biomechanically correct technique for one that allows these movements to be done faster and more wreckless than intended. I could go on for days about this but i hope you see my point. Again, ive wrestled my whole life w multiple time national champions and have trained for a long time w world class mma fighters. I have never seen the kind of divide you are talking about.

  21. I felt pain trying to send the knees out as it put way too much pressure on the joint and ligaments. (And yes, I stopped doing it … and my lifts and knees got better for it!)

    I say this so that there is at least one public data point that screams, “knees out did not work for me. It made my squats worse and made my knees ache.”

  22. […] article by Quinn Henoch at Dark Side Strength about the recent debate that has sprung up around knees in vs knees out in the squat. I’m very much a knees out lifter and it works well for me – my hip flexors get sore as […]

  23. You guys are making this way too difficult! EVERYONE is different and everything DOES NOT work for EVERYONE! If a movement causes pain! STOP! Evaluate and question why! Change something (angle, positioning, etc.) and then repeat movement. If pain ceases go with the tweaked version! SIMPLE! This is the #1 reason why I’m against cookie cutter programs! They do not work for everyone! It’s the most illogical concept on the planet when it comes to training/coaching others!

  24. rickard

    As K-Star states in his latest videos is that “knees out” is a cue for those who´s knees caves in when squatting

  25. Eric

    Turning your knees out at the bottom inactivates a whole group of large adductors and a few tiny muscles deep in the hip, with little leverage have to take over the burden.
    This is especially true doing a low-bar back squat.
    I just tore my pectineus and obturator externus following this knees-out crap, under an 85% load.
    Hindsight …

  26. […] forcing the knees out as far as possible as you track down, pushing them outside of the foot (see: here). Just my 2p. | Log | Pics – latest page 9 | MP Referral Code = MP606030 | Favourite […]

  27. […] of their coaching technique. I also read through Bob Takano’s blog series (referenced in Quin Henock’s article) to fully understand his input and that of the other professionals he involves in the discussion. […]

  28. […] of their coaching technique. I also read through Bob Takano’s blog series (referenced in Quin Henock’s article) to fully understand his input and that of the other professionals he involves in the discussion. […]

  29. zenmooncow

    There is so much variation in peoples hips , weight lifters having above average mobility and fancy shoes…

    Knees out is a specific corrective for a specific mobility issue.

    • Thanks for your comment Zenmooncow. You’re right, there is variation in people’s hips. Not sure where you’re going with the comments about weightlifters.

      Knees out is not specific to anything. It’s a general cue to correct a gross movement fault, in the moment that it happens. I’m not sure what specific mobility issue you can deduct from that. If ‘knees out’ is something you have to constantly tell someone, then the movement should be regressed, or the assessment should go a little deeper than simply watching someone squat.

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