Don't Wink At People in the Gym

"Butt wink" means that your tailbone tucks under in the bottom of your squat. This can be very subtle or quite a dramatic tuck.

Butt Wink

Your spine bending in that way whenever you have a heavy weight on your shoulders is not a good thing. It's one of the leading causes of disc problems and injuries.

In a lot of cases it's not a mobility problem; it's actually a squat technique issue. If you're so focused on relaxing your hips in order to get a low squat, you're missing the point of correct bracing technique. Trying to reach a full depth squat without bracing properly is a recipe for disaster.

The cue of sending the hips "back and away" can be very dangerous if misinterpreted. A better way to think about squatting is to focus on what your core is doing and to pull yourself down using strength, not relying on flexibility.

Your goal should be to own every position that you do. If your spine feels strong you'll have access to the true power of your legs. Try this the next time you're squatting:

  1. Keep your lower abs engaged as you would when you're correctly doing a plank.
  2. Pull yourself down with your hips while maintaining that plank feeling.
  3. Pause in the bottom and make sure you're still active. It should almost feel like your hips are "tighter," but this is actually a stronger position.
  4. Drive back up by imagining you're pushing the ground away and keep your shoulders as upright as possible.
  5. Repeat with different squat depths and different levels of tension.

Record yourself from a side view to check for any extra movement around your lower back and pelvis for your varying depths. Think about which of these positions would be safe to load up and which would not.

If you can't squat correctly with an empty bar, you're just not ready add weight.

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