Not an easy task to find a good video of this exercise. What I like about this video is he has nice co-ordination between the hips and knees and he has a sensible toe turn out – and he is looking straight forwards.
This exercise does work the inner thighs more than a standard squat does. With the toe turn out, the bottom gets a squeezing too. But the best benefit comes from its positive effect on the SIJs. Problems here are usually characterised by a pain across the hip bones themselves, just above the juciest bit of the bottom.
- Stand with the feet wide – just outside shoulder width – possibly a little wider than in the above video.
- Turn the toes out – or not – according to your personal hips. The knees should track effortlessly over the toes. It is only too easy to turn the toes out too much. Deal with your hips, not a ballet dancer’s ideal.
- Start with body weight and work in front of a mirror. Carefully observe your legs and hips as you go up and down – don’t fuss about anything else at this point. Look for any strange little wiggles in either upper leg or maybe the hip. The other thing that can sometimes happen is a subtle shift towards one side, especially as you go up. Any of this is a most helpful warning light that something is not aligned well and needs attention to rectify it before it develops into an injury.
- If this is all OK, instead of using a dumbbell, get a broom handle or long stick and place that across your upper back, well below the neck – on top of the sort of horizontal line of bone that sits part way down the shoulder blades, called the spine of the scapula.
- Shoulders back, elbows forwards, hands as close to your head as is reasonably possible. This all helps keep us upright and the upper back muscles engaged.
- Now try the squat, still keeping a careful check on the smoothness of the leg movement.
- As you begin the movement, simultaneously the hips move back and down as the knees move forwards and up. Yes, move your knees forwards, then you’ll keep them healthy since this engages all the quads and not just the outer ones.
- Go as low as you sensibly can, at least thighs parallel to floor, or slightly lower. A wide squat will not go as low as a normal width squat.
- At the top fully straighten the legs. If you are very flexible and tend to push your knees too far back, then do not lock out the knees. Otherwise, provided you give your inner knees a squeeze, fully straighten your legs.
- This exercise can be done with a dumbbell, but if the dumbbell is very long, it will hit the floor before you hit the bottom of your movement, so either hold a dumbbell in each hand or turn the dumbbell side on. If you choose to hold a dumbbell, keep your shoulders well back, since holding a weight between our legs encourages stooping and rounding of the shoulders as well as leaning forwards too much. Instead of holding the dumbbell between the legs, it could be held across the top of the chest. Now you’ll stay upright!