Fix the Most Embarrassing Squat Mistake

Stop the Hip Shift

Ever feel your hips shift over to one side when squatting, like on the way down, the drive up, or both? This might occasionally happen with PR attempts, but you need to fix it if it's a regular pattern.

Sure, you can get away with it for a while. But if you keep hammering bigger numbers, eventually something is going to give, and you could end up with a nasty strain or injury. To prevent this, fix the hip shift and keep everything as stacked as possible. Here's how.

Your First Step

First off, get used to filming your squat. You may not realize the shift is a big deal until you see yourself doing it.

Record a few warm-up sets and at least your last two working sets to see where you leak energy or where your technique becomes compromised. Using this info, you can adjust your programming to suit your individual needs.

Sometimes an old ankle or knee injury that never completely healed could be enough to make your body shift. Because these are things that happen gradually, a lot of people just don't have an awareness of it unless someone points it out.

The Next Step

Assume the 90/90 position. It's important to do this quick check before getting bogged down in any 30-minute warm up.

Think about your squat. As you go down, the heads of your femurs rotate in their hip sockets. You want an adequate level of internal and external rotation in each hip. Both hips should be relatively similar.

If one hip is worse than the other, in either internal or external rotation, then that's your issue: your hip joint literally can't move the way it needs to. So as you squat, it requires you to shift for you to achieve depth.

Your aim is to sit on the floor with your legs bent at 90 degrees at the hip and knee: one leg going straight out in front of you, the other perpendicular to the side. Your front leg is open, testing your external rotation, and your back leg tests your internal rotation.

Then switch your hips to the opposite positions. You're looking for any differences in either range. Notice your ability to stay sitting up and pay attention to your comfort level. If you have a hip shift, you'll probably feel yourself struggle a lot more on one side than the other.

Now Take It Further

The great thing about the 90/90 position is that you can improve your hip health just by sitting in it. Try some of these variations that'll help you to spend more time in the 90/90:

  • Reduce the 90-degree angle, bringing your feet closer to your body.
  • Move your torso to different positions.
  • Keep your heels on the floor, rotating from side to side.
  • Swap your legs from side to side. For a challenge, try not to use your hands!

The 90/90 position is not advanced flexibility by any means; it's just what the normal person should be able to achieve. Really, it's just sitting on the floor, which shouldn't be a big deal.

You don't need 300 drills that bore your face off. If you suck at something that should be simple, you keep practicing it until you can do it. You don't shy away from it and look for more complicated-looking exercises you can already do.

I've met people that could do glute medius activation exercises for hours yet couldn't sit up in the 90/90 position at all on one side. Ultimately, it was the time spent just sitting and working on it that made the difference for them.

Some lucky people will try this test, notice a difference, and progress quite quickly over a couple of sessions, but change will likely take a few months.

Reduce your squat weights while you work on your 90/90, because doing great accessory exercises is pointless if you just go back to squatting sideways. Continue to film yourself as you improve your mobility. Make sure you're integrating your better movement with your strength training.

Remember, if your hips can't move like hips, then your ability to do fun stuff will be limited.

Tom Morrison is a British weightlifting coach, martial artist, and CrossFit trainer and competitor. Tom works with athletes on prerequisite movement capabilities for optimal strength, performance, and reduced risk of injury.  Follow Tom Morrison on Facebook