Squat depth is a touchy subject. On one hand, it’s hipper than ever to hate on lifters for doing too-heavy quarter-depth squats. But on the other hand, if that lifter decides to drop a few plates and go to full depth, he’ll get even more criticism to go along with his DOMS.
Tell me if you’ve ever had this shouted at you: “Go lower. Lower. Whoa—butt wink!”
What is commonly known as “butt wink” refers to the moment at the bottom of a squat when the pelvis begins to rotate backward and slip under the body. You’ll also hear it referred to as “posterior pelvic tilt” or just “pelvic tilt,” and when it’s severe, it can be bad news for your lower back.
You can see people do everything they can to avoid butt wink. They start their squat with crazy overarched backs, most commonly. Or they pull out of a perfectly good squat at the slightest sign of pelvic tilt, beat themselves up about it, and try every obscure assistance exercise that’s ever been mentioned in a forum post.
It’s time to set the record straight. Yes, it’s important to achieve good levels of flexibility and joint integrity, particularly if you’re moving heavy weights in a complex movement like the back squat. But, just like passing the knees over the toes, pelvic tilt has gotten blown way out of proportion. It’s a question of degrees and personal build—and sometimes, the exact things you do to avoid it can make it worse.
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