Why Do My Squats Lean To The Side? Find Out Here
Do you ever find that when you’re doing squats, they tend to lean off to one side instead of staying upright?
Unfortunately, our bodies can naturally become asymmetrical over time. Because of this imbalance in the body, weight shifts easily and can cause the squat form to be increasingly uneven or lopsided.
In this blog post, we’re going to investigate why this happens and discuss some tips on how you can prevent it so that each rep looks nice and even! Read on for more information about how you can make sure your squats stay balanced and help give yourself a better overall workout!
Why do my squats lean to the side?
There can be many different factors that contribute to why your squats lean to one side. Some of the most common reasons include bar placement, which is a big factor when it comes to squat form, if the bar isn’t centralised then that could cause the weight to shift off centre, as well as muscle imbalances or compensating muscles which can limit your ability to keep your body symmetrical while squatting. If one side of your body is stronger than the other, it can cause you to lean in that direction when squatting or doing other exercises, which can cause muscle imbalances. If the load is heavy your body may also compensate by relying on the more dominant side to complete the lift. Your grip position can determine how balanced the bar is being held, if it isn’t gripped symmetrically, the bar will lean. If your feet are positioned incorrectly you may find that you tend to lean in one direction or the other. Mobility issues can seriously compromise your squat form, as it will reduce your range of motion when doing the exercise. while having a pelvic twist, weak stabilizer muscles, previous injury and a lack of awareness can all be responsible for leaning when doing squats.
Leaning while doing squats can be very frustrating, as you aren’t able to get the most out of the exercise, let’s now look at reasons it might be happening so you can rectify the issue ASAP…
Form and technique
The way you hold and move the bar, your squat stance and mobility can all be askew if form and technique are off. When standing before performing a squat make sure you have an even footing as this allows your legs to work in unison while keeping you balanced.
The same goes for where the bar is positioned, it should sit in line with your mid-foot, and remain there throughout the movement.
Be aware of your body’s position as you move down and up from the squat. Make sure that you are balanced and upright when at the bottom of the squat, if not readjust until you can feel tension on both legs equally.
Keeping the bar steady with a straight bar path is essential for maintaining total control and balance throughout the movement.
The squat has a lot of moving parts, if any of these parts are off, then it can cause you to lean one way or the other. Check each part and make sure that it is correct.
If you are using too heavy of a weight, your body may naturally try to compensate for the load by relying on the more dominant side. This can cause unevenness in your squat form as one side is being tasked with more than the other.
To prevent this from happening, make sure that you know your max lift and only go to that weight. If you find that one side is stronger than the other, make sure to focus on strengthening the weaker side with exercises like lateral lunges and chained squats.
Plus, if the load is heavier than you can realistically lift, don’t be afraid to drop the weight and focus on proper form until you build enough strength for heavier loads.
For many, it’s a natural temptation to lift increasingly heavy weights, yet doing so without proper form often leads to more harm than benefits.
Make sure you have a realistic fitness program that is tailored to your abilities and not anyone else that you’ve seen lifting the weight. By setting manageable goals and sticking to them, you can make sure that your squats are not only effective but also safe.
The bar placement is a key factor in squat form. If the bar isn’t centred as you lift, it can cause you to lean in one direction or the other.
Make sure that the bar is placed correctly and maintain good control of it throughout the movement. This means keeping your wrists and elbows tight and locking them into place for the duration of the lift.
Finding the most comfortable place to rest the bar might take a few attempts as it will be different depending on your body and height, but once you find it makes sure to keep the same position every time.
Generally speaking, most people find the best placement to be across the back of the shoulders, but it may vary depending on your body.
There’s nothing worse than a heavy barbell digging into your back as you squat, not only is it uncomfortable but it could also cause your form to break down and lead to injury.
It will also take your mind off of the primary muscles that should be working so make sure to get the bar placement right first.
Your grip position can have a major effect on how balanced the bar is, so make sure that you are gripping it symmetrically and evenly with both hands.
If one hand is positioned higher than the other or they are at different distances from your body, it can cause you to lean one way or the other.
Your grip position should also be strong enough for you to control the barbell as it moves up and down, but not so tight that your shoulders are tense or your wrists are uncomfortable.
Practice gripping the bar until you find a comfortable yet secure position that will keep it balanced throughout the entire squat motion.
If you don’t tend to grip the bar symmetrically on both sides, it could be due to having limited flexibility on one side. For improvement, you must stretch and develop mobility on the weaker side.
By doing mobility exercises such as foam rolling, stretching, and active release techniques, you can improve the flexibility of both sides and make sure that your grip is even when squatting.
If your body has an imbalance between two sides, naturally when doing a squat, your body will try to protect itself by leaning away from the weaker side in order to compensate.
This means that if you have weaker muscles or less developed muscles on one side, your body will try to protect itself by shifting the weight onto the stronger side, leading to an asymmetrical squat form.
It’s important to identify any imbalances that exist and then work at correcting them with targeted exercises and stretches.
Focus on strengthening the weaker side with exercises like lateral lunges and chained squats, which require you to actively use both sides of the body so that your muscles can become more balanced.
By having symmetrical and even strength on both sides of your body, you will be able to keep proper form when squatting and perform the exercise with greater control and stability.
The way your feet are positioned when squatting can also have a big effect on how balanced the weight is.
If you tend to place your feet too far apart or not far enough, it could cause the barbell to lean in one direction or the other and throw off your form.
Make sure that you find a comfortable and symmetrical stance when squatting, with your feet flat on the ground, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
If you can’t maintain balance in this position, try varying how far apart your feet are or finding a different type of squat that works better for your body.
How your toes point can also affect your squat form. While some people find it comfortable to keep their feet pointing straight ahead, others might benefit from pointing their toes slightly outward.
Experiment with different stances and foot positions until you find one that allows you to keep the bar balanced and centred as you move through the squat motion.
By making sure all of these elements are correct, you can avoid having your squats lean to one side and ensure that you are performing the exercise with correct form.
If you are having trouble keeping the bar in a central position when squatting, it could be due to mobility issues.
If you have recently recovered from an injury or have limited flexibility on one side, it can affect how balanced the bar is when you are squatting.
The muscles will be tight after an injury and this can cause your body to lean in one direction when squatting, leading to an asymmetrical position.
Having a limited range of motion on either side or weak flexibility can cause the weight to shift one way or the other, leading to an imbalance and uneven form.
To improve your mobility and symmetry, focus on stretching and targeting the muscles that are causing the issue.
Incorporating exercises such as deep squats, unilateral squats, foam rolling, and dynamic stretching into your routine can help to improve flexibility and symmetry between both sides of the body.
A pelvic twist is a common cause of uneven squat form. The hips are the foundation for our body and if we have tightness or asymmetry in that area, it can create an imbalance when doing exercises like squats.
A twisted pelvis is when the hips and spine are out of alignment, causing one side of the body to be stronger than the other. This can cause you to lean in that direction when squatting, leading to improper form.
To correct a pelvic twist, focus on exercises such as hip stretches and foam rolling that target the area around your hips. Doing these regularly will help to loosen up the muscles and improve your squat form.
To improve your pelvic symmetry, it’s important to focus on stretching and strengthening the muscles surrounding that area. Hip flexor stretches, lunges, bridges, and single-leg exercises are all helpful in creating more balance and symmetry between both sides of the body.
You may need to see a physical therapist or sports medicine specialist for more in-depth guidance on how to address any asymmetries in your hips.
Weak stabiliser muscles
Weak stabilising muscles can also cause your squats to lean to one side. These small muscles help to keep the body stable while doing exercises like squats and if they are weak, it can affect your form.
Stabiliser muscles are very important, yet neglected, muscles when it comes to workouts and should be given the same attention as other muscle groups.
Targeting these small muscles with exercises like side-lying clam shells, single-leg deadlifts, and lateral band walks will help to improve strength and stability in the area, leading to better form while squatting.
Strengthening these muscles is key to developing proper squat form and avoiding any imbalances.
Focus on building stability in these areas through incorporating strength exercises into your routine can help you maintain symmetry when squatting.
Lots of people overlook these types of exercises until they become aware of an imbalance, but by strengthening these muscles, you can help to improve your form and prevent any future issues.
Lack of awareness or focus
Sometimes, the cause for an unbalanced squat is simply a lack of awareness or focus.
When performing squats, it’s important to be aware of your body and how it’s positioned. If you are not focusing on keeping the bar centralised and maintaining proper form with each rep, then this can cause an imbalance in the squat.
To keep your form consistent and symmetrical, focus on keeping the bar centred throughout the motion and maintaining proper posture during each rep.
It’s also helpful to practice these exercises in front of a mirror or using a video camera so you can get an idea of what your form looks like from different angles.
You can also get “Bar path” apps which track your form and provide feedback after each rep.
This can be a helpful way to become aware of any asymmetries so that you can work on improving them before they become an issue.
Related: Why do squats feel so awkward?
Limb length discrepancy
Limb length discrepancies can also be a cause of uneven squats. If one leg is shorter by the smallest amount than the other, you may find that your body is more comfortable leaning to one side when squatting as it will help to keep your balance.
If you have an asymmetry in your limb lengths, it’s important to take the time to adjust your form accordingly.
You may need to use a box or step under one foot when squatting so that your lower body is symmetrical and you can maintain proper form.
It’s also important to incorporate single-leg exercises into your routine as this will help with any imbalances in the body and can help to build strength in the weaker leg.
Doing unilateral exercises such as split squats and lunges will help you to build more balance and symmetry in your lower body, leading to better form when squatting.
Not warming up
Not warming up properly before you start to squat can also be a cause of an unbalanced squat.
Your muscles need to be properly warmed up and stretched out in order for them to function correctly. When your muscles are tight or cold, it can lead to improper form and an uneven squat.
It’s also important to make sure you’re engaging the correct muscles when squatting, as this can help maintain balance and symmetry.
Focusing on engaging your core and glutes will help keep your posture upright and prevent any imbalances in your form.
Doing squats cold is a recipe for disaster, so make sure to take the time to warm up and stretch before beginning your workout.
We all also have certain muscles that take longer to respond than others, so it’s important to make sure you are taking the time to warm up these muscles before beginning your workout.
By taking the time to warm up, you can help to prevent any imbalances in your form and get the most out of your squats.
If your squat form is leaning more to one side than the other, it may be due to a number of potential causes.
Bar placement and muscle imbalances are two common culprits, but lack of awareness or focus, limb length discrepancies and not warming up properly can also be contributing factors.
By taking the time to identify the cause of your imbalanced squat, you can take the necessary measures to correct it and get back on track with your workouts.
By making sure you’re centring the bar properly, engaging the right muscles and taking the time to warm up beforehand, you can ensure that your form is symmetrical and balanced throughout each rep.
This will help you get the most out of your squats and help to keep you injury-free in the long run.
Do your squats lean to the side? Let me know in the comment section below.