Ah, the humble squat: how can such a simple move require so much technique? Keep your chest up. Get your butt down. Shift your weight to your heels. The list of do’s and dont’s goes on and on and on.
For the most part, these tips are valid – good form equals good gains, after all. But there’s one rule that’s been drummed into gym goers that’s worthy of forgetting: never let your knees extend past your toes.
For context, this first came to fruition after researchers back in 1978 established that keeping your shins as vertical as possible would lessen the pressure placed the knees during a squat. Then, another study in 2003 backed this up, reporting that knee stress increases 28 per cent when they venture past the toes.
But here’s the thing: all bodies are built differently. Peeps with long legs or particularly small feet, for example, would have a harder time pulling this off. And for others, it could actually lead to injury (i.e. those who lack hip or ankle mobility.)
Instead, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends focusing on maintaining even contact with the ground through the balls of your feet and heels. Think: hinging at the hips as you drive your booty backwards. The idea is that you target your butt muscles while allowing the knees to bend naturally – as little or as far over your second toe as they want to go.
So, next time you’re planning to include squats in your sweat sesh, experiment to find out what works best for your body.
And remember, sometimes rules (just like knees) are meant to bend.
This article originally appeared on Women’s Health Aus