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Eliminating Butt Wink In Squat Movements

In the realm of strength training, the squat reigns supreme as one of the most fundamental movements. Yet, achieving proper form can be tough, especially when it comes to how the squat is initiated. One commonly seen error is the tendency to start with an anterior pelvic tilt, inadvertently setting the stage for what's known as "butt wink" at the bottom of the squat. This is where the hips move from an anterior pelvic tilt to a posterior pelvic tilt at a point in the squat where you ideally want the hips to remain stable.
In this blog post, we'll explore why starting with an anterior pelvic tilt can lead to the butt wink and how mastering the hip hinge is the key to squatting with confidence and safety.

Understanding the Cue: "Break at the Hips"

"Break at the hips" is the foundation of any successful squat or weightlifting movement. (yes, even your deadlift set-up). It involves initiating the movement by hinging at the hips, allowing the glutes and hamstrings to engage before descending into the squat. Unfortunately, many individuals initiate the squat incorrectly by allowing the pelvis to tilt forward, leading to an anterior pelvic tilt. This faulty movement pattern leads to a less efficient movement pattern and places excessive stress on the lower back.

The Connection Between Anterior Pelvic Tilt and Butt Wink

An anterior pelvic tilt occurs when the front of the pelvis rotates downward, causing the lower back to arch excessively, and reducing the space in the joint to accommodate a deeper squat. While this may initially seem advantageous for achieving a deeper squat, it sets the stage for the butt wink—a posterior pelvic tilt at the bottom of the squat where the tailbone tucks under and the lower back rounds.

The Risks of an Anterior Pelvic Tilt:

Compromised Spinal Stability: 
Initiating the squat with an anterior pelvic tilt destabilises the spine, increasing the risk of injury, particularly to the lower back. This compromised stability can lead to discomfort, strains, and even disc herniations over time.
Butt Wink Formation: 
An anterior pelvic tilt alters the pelvic position, making it more challenging to maintain a neutral spine throughout the squat. As a result, as the individual descends into the squat, the pelvis will move into a posterior tilt to facilitate a deeper squat, leading to the butt wink.

How Proper Initiation Prevents the Butt Wink:

Maintains Spinal Alignment: 
Breaking at the hips ensures that the spine remains in a neutral position throughout the squat. By engaging the glutes and hamstrings from the onset, individuals can better control their pelvic position, minimizing the likelihood of the butt wink occurring.
Balanced Muscle Engagement: 
Initiating the squat with a hip hinge promotes balanced activation of the posterior chain, including the glutes and hamstrings. This balanced muscle engagement helps stabilise the pelvis and control the descent, reducing the risk of compensatory movements like the butt wink.

How to Initiate the Squat Properly:

Set Up Correctly: 
Start by standing with feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out. Engage the core muscles to maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.
Hinge at the Hips: 
Before bending the knees, initiate the squat by pushing the hips backward as if reaching for a chair behind you. Allow the chest to drop forward as the hips move back to allow you to keep the core braced and the weight evenly distributed through the feet.
Bend the Knees: 
Once the hips have reached their furthest point back, begin bending the knees to lower the body into the squat position. This will allow the barbell to remain over the midfoot for the duration of the squat. Aim to keep the knees tracking over the toes without collapsing inward as you move through the full range.
Maintain full foot contact: 
As you ascend from the squat, focus on driving through the entire foot(not focused on heel drive or on the toes excessively) to return to the starting position. Maintain control throughout the movement and avoid overarching the lower back.

Lets see that in action with a Front Squat demonstration using the correct hip hinge movement:

Conclusion:

Achieving a proper squat starts with mastering the initiation phase of the movement. While an anterior pelvic tilt may seem like a shortcut to greater depth, it often leads to compromised spinal stability and the formation of the dreaded butt wink. By prioritising the hip hinge and "breaking at the hips," individuals can establish a solid foundation for their squats, ensuring optimal spinal alignment, stability, and safety throughout the entire range of motion. Remember, a strong and safe squat begins with proper form from the very first movement.

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Happy Lifting!!

JQ



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