Stick Your Butt Out for Great Squats and Deadlifts


Squats and deadlifts are essential lower body exercises that should be in just about everybody’s strength training program.  They’re both fantastic strength builders that work lots of muscle and compliment each other nicely.  Although they stress different muscle groups, they require the same motion to be done well – sticking out the butt.

I’ve discovered that sitting back into the hips is not something people are generally comfortable doing, but it’s critical in these two exercises.  Moving from the hips shifts some weight towards the heels for better balance over the entire foot and sets up good joint alignment for smooth form.

Check out the sequences below of a stiff legged deadlift and goblet squat.  The middle picture shows the key motion:

Deadlift Stages

Stiff Legged Deadlift

Goblet Squat Stages

Goblet Squat

The big difference between these two exercises is that the Deadlift is mainly a hip exercise, whereas the Squat uses knee motion as well.  Deadlifts = big hip hinge.  Squat = smaller hip hinge, then sit straight down.  Despite that distinction, without sitting back into the hips, both of these exercises go right off the rails:

Deadlift Wrong Total

Deadlift without enough hip motion

Goblet Squat Wrong Total

Squat without enough hip motion

You can see how the low back or knees have to make up motion when the hips don’t move enough. As always, being forced into bad form like that won’t produce great results and usually leads to pain and injury.

If you have trouble with the hip hinge and sticking your butt out, here’s a practice exercise to help you get the feel of it:

Waiter's Bow

Align the dowel on your spine holding it with one hand behind your neck and the other at your low back.  The dowel should stay in contact with the back of your head, your upper back and your tailbone while you bow forward.  The only way to do this right is to stick out your butt and hinge at your hips.  This is a great warm-up to help you groove this critical move.  Don’t lose contact with the dowel and avoid excess arching in your low back.

So, do your squats and deadlifts…and do them great by sticking your butt out!

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Michael Bento is an Advanced Trainer at the Clubs at Charles River Park. He holds a Masters degree in Human Movement and is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and Performance Enhancement Specialist.

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