I have been following Starting Strength for about a year and a half. I squatted 3x4 @ 285 lbs today. I was doing 5x5 sets, but read a suggestion on here to reduce to 3x5, and I immediately noticed an improvement (I could increase my weight, which had plateaued). Now, when I can do 3x5 to my satisfaction, I add more weight. I keep my feet slightly pointed out and about shoulder width apart.

Anyway, for the longest time, I have noticed a tendency in my knees to come together as I come up out of the squat. There's no pain or anything, that's just what they tend to do. Is this ok or something I should fix? If I should fix it, how? Deload until they don't come together anymore?

  • 3
    When you say you've been following Starting Strength, do you mean the book or some other source? The book is clear about being 3x5 instead of 5x5 (though I made that mistake too for a few workouts), and talks about knees caving in. How often have you been deloading? Dec 13, 2012 at 2:32

1 Answer 1


Ideally, your knees travel out directly in the same line as where your toes are pointing, and your toes should be pointing out at somewhere between 20° and 45° from a line drawn perpendicular to your torso straight out in front of you.

If your knees are collapsing in, yes, it is poor form. It indicates that you have relatively weak leg abduction. (Remember, abduction is any movement that draws a body part away from the center line of your body.)

Collapsing knees are bad form; a little bit is not particularly dangerous to you, BUT strengthing those abductors will improve the total strength in your leg by efficiently using all muscles. Definitely work on keeping those knees out over the hips. Also, try mixing up your stance by going a few inches wider than you usually do, and you will find that you're getting more glutes and more inner leg muscles into the action. Which is a good thing - because ONLY the squat can really tax these muscles.

Collapsing knees also tend to happen in conjunction with weight too far forward. As you collapse in, notice that you tend to pitch forward. Try various mental cues to fix this, such as, "Sit back", and "Squeeze out". Practice impeccable weight-in-heels form with your warmup sets and try to carry it into your work sets. If you can't do the exercise without knee collapse, then maybe you should take off a few pounds - or stay put for a week.

  • Thank you for the suggestions. I will experiment with stance and shifting the weight back, and I will report back with my results!
    – northben
    Dec 13, 2012 at 2:36
  • Agree with everything here! Another cue is to think of moving the bar in an imaginary slot that extends vertically above your midfoot.
    – user4644
    Dec 13, 2012 at 2:44
  • I have been trying to keep my knees apart with limited success. I will try reducing weight next.
    – northben
    Dec 27, 2012 at 14:32
  • masonk, I don't understand about shifting the weight - isn't the bar always going to be directly over my feet? Else what would counter balance it? Or do you mean I am leaning to far forward at the bottom of my squat?
    – northben
    Dec 27, 2012 at 14:34
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    Your center of mass will be directly over some part of your feet or else you'll tip over. But it could be in the balls of your feet or it could be in the heels of your feet. It should be over the arch of your feet, slightly towards the heels rather than the ball of your feet, and it should be that way the whole time. The correct amount of lean is the amount of lean that causes the bar to travel in a straight line up and down over the arch of your foot slightly further to the heel than the ball. Usually the mistake is to take the weight in the balls of the foot.
    – masonk
    Dec 30, 2012 at 23:45

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