3 Cues to Stop Using with the Squat

The squat is one of the exercises in the strength and conditioning, physical therapy,  and performance worlds that can be a valuable part of any well developed program.

It can be used to train pure strength, power, athleticism, etc.  It is not an exercise that is mandatory to have in a program, but it can be a good “go-to” exercise for a bilateral knee dominant movement.

Over the years, there have been cues used to help athletes and clients improve technique, decrease pain, and improve performance.

Since learning how to squat myself, I have found there are some cues that need to stop being used or be used less.

Here are 3 cues to Stop Using with the Squat:

Cue #1: “Knees Out”

The cue “knees out” can be an effective cue to help those who squat who have a tendency for their knees to go into knee valgus.


But, this cue can be overused and the extreme opposite can occur where the knees are too far outside of the feet.


A good cue instead is to “Find the Outside of the Heels.”  This can place the lower body in a better position instead continuing to instruct someone to drive their knees out.


Cue #2: “Arch Hard/Big Arch”

This is another cue that is used for the position of the back, specifically, the low back.  Unfortunately, this can put most athletes in a poor position when squatting because of the excessive lumbar spine extension.  In turn, it can put an athlete into anterior pelvic tilt, decrease the amount of space for hip flexion and can affect mechanics as well as depth for the squat.


Instead of instructing someone to arch hard and in turn, putting them into a poor position, try stacking your body.  As shown in the video below, stack the shoulders, spine,and hips directly above and below each other. By doing this, you place your body in a better position to move and squat.


This can help with issues at the thoracic spine, lumbar spine, hips and knees.  By stacking your body, you are delegating load and stress better throughout the body versus distributing it unevenly.

Cue #3: “Sit Back”

The cue “sit back” has been used for some time to encourage athletes to avoid forward weight shifting.  This is understandable, but cueing someone to “sit back” can over correct and sometimes create another issue where the athlete is sitting back “too much.

In a box squat,

This can be an effective cue to promote a posterior weight shift and decrease stress on the knees in someone dealing with knee pain or in a rehab client.

But, in order to promote a good squat pattern, “sitting back” can affect the normal squat pattern.

Instead of using the cue “sit back”, I like to use “sit down between your knees and feet.”  By instructing someone to do this, it can help promote a proper squat pattern.



If you are using the cues mentioned above and you are still seeing a squat that you don’t like, try using these 3 cues instead to help clean up a squat pattern.

Andrew Millett