Last Update  On January 2, 2012
Wide Stance Squats Vs. Close Stance Squats

by Vladi /Franky/
"What's better for quadriceps hypertrophy - wide stance squats or close stance squats?"

Close stance hands down. Why?

When you use a close stance it's like performing a close grip bench press - the quadriceps /triceps if its bench press/ takes the beating while the hip musculature - glutes, hamstrings, adductors, lower back performs less work due to the lever of the body. In other words the wider your feet are the less quadriceps involvement there is and more hamstrings, adductors, glutes (mainly) activation there is during the squat.

At the bottom of a wide stance squat the adductors (inner thighs) are stretched a lot more compared to a close stance squat and they help on the way up. The same goes for the glute musculature. Of course when you perform close stance squats the adductors are still involved but you can greatly reduce their help by using a closer stance.

On top of that when your perform close stance squats you will naturally go deeper which means greater range of motion as well. As you know - the greater the movement the greater the exercise. If you want to hit quads definitely
go for deep close stance squats.

"Hmmm...but Louie Simmons says there is no change in quadriceps activation and involvement during close and wide stance squats? U MAD NOW?"

This is not true. There is a big difference between close and wide stance squats when it comes to quads involvement. Just perform some close stance deep high-bar squats and then try some sumo powerlifting squats to parallel. Then report back how it feels on your quads. Like I said it's like a close grip bench press. The narrower the grip/stance the more triceps/quadriceps there is. When you take a close stance you take stress off the adductors and place it on the quads. On the other hand the wider the stance  the easier and more natural it is to “sit back” during squats which also equals more hip activation.

"Ok. I guess this means that the wide stance squat is better for adductors and glutes, right?"

Absolutely. Using a wide stance will increase the active flexibility of your adductors and will hit your hips harder. Also if you are trying to develop enough flexibility for side splits and stuff the sumo wide stance will provide faster results than stretching but try to avoid too much work because the groin muscles are notorious for the soreness they can cause. It's not very pleasant.

"Hmm...bro but what about joint stress? What's easier on the joints?"

It depends. When you perform an extremely wide stance squats there will be a lot of stress on the adductors and the knees. That's why some pain and knee ligament stress will occur. The reason for this is that the wider the stance the more chance there is for your knees and feet NOT to track. If your knees and feet do not track perfectly during a squat some people may get injured. At the same time using too close stance may cause quite a bit of knee and hip flexors stress as well.

Conclusion: Wide Stance develops glutes and adductors while a close stance squat places more stress on the quadriceps. Avoid excessively wide or close stances in order to prevent knee or hip injury.
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