Push The Knees Out In The Squat? Maybe.
Pushing the knees out in the squat does not directly contribute to standing up. It’s a measure to correct or prevent knee valgus and forward leaning.
Standing up is achieved primarily with knee and hip extension, and secondarily with some hip adduction and ankle extension.
That pushing the knees out doesn’t make you stand up is easily demonstrated by sitting into a squat and pushing your knees out—you won’t move up a single inch no matter how hard or far out you push.
However, there are two reasons to actively push the knees out in a squat.
The first is to either prevent knee valgus in an athlete for whom this is a known problem, or to correct valgus as it’s occurring—pushing the knees out maintains or re-establishes the optimal leg orientation.
We’re not pushing out for the sake of pushing out, nor are we pushing the knees outside the feet; we’re opposing or correcting an unwanted inward motion to keep the thighs aligned with the feet.
The second reason is to correct forward leaning. If the knees move in, the hips move back and the chest moves forward in response—in other words, it causes you to lean over more than wanted.
Pushing the knees back out into the correct position helps allow you to bring the hips forward again to re-establish the upright posture needed to push through your sticking point.
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